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Blogs – A New Communication Tool That Is Growing in Popularity

What are Blogs?

Blogs are collections of articles, ideas, news, facts, opinions or inspirations that are “posted” on the internet. They are usually structured, organized by category and are updated often, if not daily. The owner of the blog is able to control the content.

The term, which stands for "Web log," was coined in 1999 and has caught on like wildfire. There are now about 4 million blogs on the Internet.

Blogs & Your Business

So how could blogs fit into a business? They provide great supplemental content and direct attention to areas of your business that you want to feature or highlight. Use it as a unique, informal way to:

  • Communicate with colleagues, partners, suppliers, existing or potential customers
  • Showcase industry/company news, introduce new products or services, marketing promotions or provide tips
  • Establish a company or individual's reputation or brand
  • Improve operations (e.g. project management or tech support knowledge-sharing)
  • Demonstrate expertise
  • Establish competitive differentiation
  • Simplify and accelerate the publishing process

You direct the content but let your readers guide you. You will also need to establish when you will post more articles and adhere to it. Let your readers know what to expect and when to expect it.

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Enormous Marketing Potential

Blogs are highly strategic, here-to-stay desktop tools. Think of the potential for your e-newsletter strategies:

  • Articles within newsletters can be linked to a blog, extending life and creating a massive conversation.
  • You can offer a bidirectional forum to customers to get true, personal opinions on your products and services.
  • Company experts can start a blog and become industry experts, helping your company edge out competition.
  • You can layer your blog with editorial controls!

Creating a Blog

There are numerous online tools that can be used to create a blog. You can use an html editor, such as Dreamweaver to create your posts. The content is then sent via FTP to a web server.

If you are unfamiliar with html editors and using FTP programs, then there is free software on the Internet to create and post your blog. A couple of popular web-based tools are Blogger at www.blogger.com or Silkware at www.silkblogs.com.

When you set up a Blog you select a template that will house your information. Once you have the Blog set up, you can post whatever information you like.

Reading a Blog

  • Use your standard browser and post comments on the content of the Blog.

  • Use a RSS (real simple syndication) reader program. You can subscribe to whichever blogs that you want to and they are available immediately in the reader. Using an RSS reader allows you to have all of the blogs that interest you in one place and you don't have surf all over the Internet to read them. A free reader can be downloaded at: www.rsspublisher.com/.

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Benefits and Advantages of Blogs

1. Easy to maintain and easy to start

If you don’t know html to set it up, using a template from one of the many tools available online makes it easy to start. You just post your info into the template.

2. Post as often as you like

Post as much and as often as you like.

3. Highly interactive

Posters get to see the results of a post immediately as the post appears simultaneously after posting. Blogs may also use a “TrackBack” system that allows the visitor to see who has written the original post and any other entry concerning it. The system works by sending a 'ping' between the blogs, and therefore providing the alert. Blogs can also alert you when new or updated content is added.

TrackBack typically appears below a blog entry and shows a summary of what has been written on the target blog, together with a URL and the name of the blog.

4. No lists to maintain, or spam filters

Email spam filters do not block Blogs because they are not an email communication. E-mail delivery of newsletters and e-zines has become difficult with the advent of spam filters. Blogs are not delivered, and therefore, no methods of defeating filters are needed, and no "non-deliverables" occur.

5. Number of blogs you create is limitless

You can make as many Blogs as you like on any subject.

6. Search Engine Friendly

Search Engines are constantly "searching" for new content and blogs fit this perfectly because of the constantly changing content that appears daily on blogs. There are numerous websites that act as "blog search engines". Be sure to submit your sites to these websites to increase your exposure. This will also help with your page rank. Below are some of the places to list your blog:

Blog search engines: www.blogstreet.com
Globe of Blogs: www.globeofblogs.com
Blog Universe: www.bloguniverse.com
Blogs Canada: www.blogscanada.ca/directory
Blog Search Engine: www.blogsearchengine.com

7. Economical

Since no lists are maintained, there are no list server costs. Blogging software and blogging services are also very reasonably priced. Some blogging services charge others to "read", while others charge writers to "write", but overall the monthly charges are rather minimal either way.

8. Educational

There are such a variety of informative and educational blogs available now that a search for any subject usually turns up hundreds of offerings. For a view into popular blogs of many categories, just visit: www.blogit.com.

9. Syndication

Syndication is a great way to ensure that your writing and your views are exposed to as much of the general public as possible. Syndication is many times included in blogging services now, and this has drawn individuals to the art of blogging continuously. For an example of a blog service that features syndication, please visit: www.typepad.com.

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Elements to Be Successful

To be successful, Blogs need to contain the following elements:

  • Compelling, well-written content. No one, either online or
    Offline, wants to read material that is poorly written, difficult or boring to read.

  • Updated material. Just as in newsletters or e-zines, if
    material is not updated continually, then the audience
    eventually dies.

  • Rousing topics. Topics of interest to a wide range of readers
    succeed more than topics that appeal to very few, or are rather
    dull topics.

  • A nice layout and visual appeal. A blog is akin to a Web site
    for written materials, and just like in the design of a Web
    site, every care should be made to have the blog be visually
    appealing and friendly to visitors.

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