The Blog turned 10 this summer. Aside from disappointment that you missed the party, why should you care? Should you join scores of millions of organizations, pundits, and malcontents in creating a blog for your business, hobby, or cause?
I’ve not seen a really good definition of blog. I’d characterize it as organized web content, such as by date and subject, which is very easy to update. You as a blogger don’t have to know more than how to type or cut and paste and click a button or two. Blogs can be far more elaborate with graphics, audio, and full motion video; but in general, you need no more than an Internet connection and an idea. Far too many blogs seem to dispense with this second ingredient.
As marketers, we like to experiment. Blogs can be quick experiments. They do not require significant investment. If your blog is getting bogged down in design reviews and policy meetings, stop. Your blog doesn’t have to be ugly, but its purpose is to dispense content. As in so much of marketing, the KISS principal (Keep It Simple Stupid) applies.
What can a blog do for you? Occasionally blogs become a hit and get lots of traffic. When that happens you can profit by selling ads through programs such as Google’s Adsense. This does happen, but is as optimistic as panning for gold in your bath tub – not the basis for a business plan.
Blogging systems typically allow readers to comment, though this option can be turned off. If you enable this, a blog can be useful source of customer information and an early alert to problems. It’s also a way to engage customers, especially those who care about the product. These engaged customers could be the basis of a community of users.
Even unhappy customers have value. They could signal perceived or real problems you ought to know about, and the blog can be a vehicle to directly reach and respond to them.
Any visitor to the blog can comment, so a rude, lewd, or overly persistent commentator can be a problem. There are ways to deal with these such as moderating your blog, but they add complexity and labor to what is supposed to be an essentially simple system.
The key reason we recommend blogs is to keep adding new content to your site. Blogs are an almost spontaneous way for you to add relevant information, without another web design cycle. Indeed some blog software, WordPress comes to mind, could be used as a full blown web publishing and content management system. Having a blog can help your site’s search rankings. Because blog content can be readily refreshed and enhanced, it’s a reason for visitor’s to keep returning.
Because of their informal style, blogs can also be a window on the personality of your brand or products; and so a way to get closer to your customers. If you’ve got something to say, get a blog.