If you mention the word blogging to most people, their reaction is likely to be either that blogs are for tittle-tattle and inconsequential stuff, or that they serve little purpose.
That’s especially true in a business context. So what do we mean by blogging? What sort of blogs are we talking about here? Well, certainly not the typical ones that tend to grab all of the attention: the slanderous diatribes, the gossip columns or the politically-motivated rants. Yes they may be the most prevalent, but they aren’t suitable for business. Most businesses wouldn’t dream of considering outsourcing a business blog, let alone writing one themselves. They fail to see the connection between the blog and their overall marketing strategy. The question is, are they right? Has blogging any place in a marketing context? Well, I’ll nail my colours to the mast straight away and say that it does, without a doubt.
It’s an incontrovertible fact that blogging is important in today’s society: in fact I’d go so far as to say that it’s essential.
Businesses need to martial every possible resource at their disposal to succeed, particularly during a recession. Blogging is just one of these resources. Most businesses now realise that having an online presence alone is not enough to guarantee success. Many now realise that a site will only be successful if it is truly customer-friendly, optimised for search engine visibility, and regularly updated with interesting and useful content. Interestingly, the one area of website management that some of these businesses overlook is blogging. What these companies don’t seem to appreciate is just how much a well-crafted and managed blog can do to support their company’s marketing strategy.
So why should businesses consider starting a blog? What benefits will it bring?
Access to customers.
Blogging lets executives, employees and marketers have access to their customers and vice versa. You could alternatively consider paying for expensive market research to achieve the same thing, but it won’t necessarily produce any better results. Market research has its place, but if you want to get instant feedback from customers, then a simply-crafted and thoughtful 100-200 word statement, posting in a blog is the better option. All you need to do is sit back and wait for the responses. Visitors to your site who read the blog can comment on your entry, but you still control what is ultimately published. This means that if the criticism isn’t particularly constructive, or is too harsh, or is even inaccurate, you can always delete that comment. Otherwise, you could allow comments to be posted for all to see, as is.
Strengthening a business’ visibility.
The internet is powered by search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. These engines determine which web pages will be indexed for their respective engines. Optimising a business website and increasing its visibility is the critical factor in determining the amount of exposure a website will receive from potential customers. Blogs are favored by search engines because they are frequently updated and are considered to be a very important communication tool. Many of the best blogs inform and educate and provide a constant stream of new and relevant information for customers.
Obviously it will involve a certain amount of work. It will take time and the process will need to be overseen, but it’s worth it in the end. All that businesses need to remember is that what they say on the blog will represent them, the company and its philosophy. It’s vitally important that only trusted and select company representatives are allowed to have access to the blog and to oversee its operation. The blog can then build corporate credibility and bring in that all-important intangible “goodwill” that is sought by companies everywhere.