I had to laugh last week when I heard the keynote speaker at a public relations conference refer to the conventional wisdom that blogs are “so yesterday.” Maybe it’s because I spend two to three hours daily tending to my own blogs and others, or maybe it’s just general frustration with trend-chasing, but blogs are more relevant today than they’ve ever been, and they’re growing more useful as options proliferate.
The blog is the Swiss army knife of social media. Simple to use and easy to update, it accommodates every type of media: words, images, video and sound. Blog entries can be of Twitter-like brevity or can go on for thousands of words. Content can be displayed in a wide variety of formats and designs. Visitors don’t have to register to read.
Blog content is automatically syndicated via RSS feeds, making it simple for the owner to republish information through other outlets. A blog can also act as a catch-basin for the owner’s other social media activities. All of a person’s tweets, Yelps, Flickr PhotoStreams and YouTube creations can be aggregated and displayed in one place.
Content can be automatically reformatted for display on devices ranging from text readers to mobile devices. A countless variety of useful widgets can be added to entertain and inform visitors. Web analytics can show detailed information about where visitors originated, what they read, how long they stayed and where they went next. Blogs can even incorporate order forms. Last but not least, blogs rock on search engine performance.
It’s true that there are a few things blogs don’t do well. They’re not as quick and easy to update as Twitter or the Facebook status message. And they lack interactivity. While visitors can comment on individual entries, they can’t comment on the overall theme of the blog, and even threaded comment strings can be difficult to follow. There are also limits to what you can do with the simple reverse chronological format, although innovators like Brian Gardner are managing to make WordPress do things I never thought possible.
For businesses, blogs provide a critical element of control. They’re the social media equivalent of speaking to an audience. The author retains control over subject matter, tone and direction while offering interaction around subjects of his or her choosing. Businesses that shrink from the unpredictability of unmediated discussion can take comfort in the fact that blogs give them a healthy dose of control.
For business-to-business applications, blogs are the overwhelming tool of choice. That’s because b-to-b professionals often don’t have the time or patience to fill out profile forms, answer friend requests or join groups. Blogs are simply a fast and easy way to share information with very little overhead.
Blogs are the building block of nearly every form of social media. They are the tool you need to master in order to understand the rich nuances of other media that are available to you.
Hi Paul! Great article. I love how you say blogging is the building block of nearly every form of social media. May I link to this article in my blog? I’d love to highlight a few of my favorite points and will credit you and your blog. http://www.lbpublicrelations.blogspot.com
Great post. I started a blog on Solution Marketing (www.SolutionMarketingBlog.com) in February and I’ve been sharing it with my target audience using a variety of social media.
It seems like many people want to run to the latest technology like Twitter and disregard blogs because the format is “yesterday” or too long. But that misses the point entirely. Successful communication is NOT about finding the hottest or newest channel. Instead it’s about identifying the optimum mix of channels required to engage in an ongoing dialog with the target audience. Some audiences will prefer one channel to another. But others are best reached through a cross-channel strategy. There is no one-size fits all answer.
There’s still more to do but my strategy has been to cross-promote across multiple channels. So when I publish a new post in my blog, I make a similar tweet with brief commentary pointing to my blog, I list it as News on my website, and I include it in Facebook and LinkedIn as well. Each instance is uniquely tuned to the channel. But I know that at any one point in time, different people in my target audience are viewing different channels. A multi-channel strategy gets the message out in the broadest way possible. In the process, it also builds an audience in each of the channels I’m using.
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