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|Sunday, July 01, 2007|
These days, you can’t go online without encountering a blog. The user-generated websites, typically a series of journal-like entries listed in chronological order, turn political gaffes into big news stories, help new writers land book deals and display a glut of personal information. But blogs aren’t strictly for hobbyists. Many businesses are using the online forums as marketing tools to accomplish a variety of tasks, from shaping a company’s image to testing the viability of new products.
Also think about what you want to say and how you’ll say it, now and years from now. Some of the most successful blogs provide fresh insights and, most importantly, relevant information. Posting that kind of material may require going well beyond promoting the company line. “Companies think they should be out there in blog form, so they take material that may not be pertinent and just shove it out there,” says Mike Heiser, president of YRG Communications, a Portland marketing and communications agency. “When material is pushed out like that, it sits, nobody posts new stuff, and the blog dies.”
Heiser frequently recommends blogging to clients because of the “communities” that form online. In lieu of traditional one-to-one marketing, blogs can reach a large group of people who share common interests. And thanks to the comment feature that most blogs employ, one-way dialogue is replaced by informal discussion — a valuable environment for taking the pulse of new ideas or products long before release dates.
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