What will a blog do for me? (That’s the question right?)
I spent a couple of hours yesterday speaking with a roomful of lively and smart women at the Professional Women’s Network group in downtown Vancouver. Notice I say WITH not to … it was an interactive exchange of ideas, experience, thoughts and even some skepticism about blogs and blogging and the value – or the Return On Blog (ROB).
There were several women who have obviously drank the Kool-Aid – they see the value of blogs and want to learn more about how to effectively use them for their business or career. Several more seemed interested and I could see the light go on as we chatted and several others I think are still concerned about the value – and the time it takes to blog. After hearing some of their experiences with blogs and blogging, listening to their concerns and their very thoughtful questions – I realized that there is a whole topic for a blog right there. That blog will come next week.
For today, I promised to put up my speaking notes and to provide some reference points to begin checking out blogs, searching to see who is blogging in their industry and getting a feel for the blogsophere. Here they are …long-winded alert – this is a longer than normal blog – so please don’t think a) that all my blogs will be this long and b) that your blogs need to be this long. Happy reading.
Business people, from one person home-based entrepreneurs to CEOs of multinational companies, often ask me if they should have a blog – and what the benefits are to blogging. If you are wondering the same thing …here is some info that might interest you.
Think about having a blog – and of posting on other people’s blogs – as a convenient way to build relationships. It is one great big global (or local, regional or national, depending on your needs) cocktail party that you don’t have to dress up for, where you don’t need to find parking or buy a ticket to attend. And – here is the best part – you also don’t need to put up with any of the pylons or sharks that also attend these events and waste your time trying to “sell” you or “convince” you or find a way to benefit themselves without ever considering your side of things.
The blogosphere provides the opportunity to meet like-minded people, to discuss and collaborate, even to disagree or debate in (for the most part) a respectful, open and incredibly interactive environment. Blogging is much like having a great networking event, where people are pre-qualified in a certain topic before they arrive. In this blog – I talk about Public Relations and PR 2.0 (blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc.) While I don’t have many posts to my blog, I have a strong RSS subscriber list who want to see what I write about public relations. Someone with no interest in PR isn’t going to subscribe to my blog or even get past the first page of our website.
Whether you start your own blog or post on other blogs that are discussing topics you are interested in, you are expanding your network and building positive relationships within your area of interest or expertise. You are having discussions and conversations about subjects that you have knowledge, experience and expertise in. It never hurts your professional relationships to be seen as an expert. As importantly, reading what others are thinking, doing and discussing is a great way to keep up with changes, trends and new paths in your industry.
Being present in the blogosphere – as a blogger, a poster or a reader is important. The truth of the matter is, you can either blog or be blogged. If there are conversations happening in the blogosphere about your industry, your company or your customers and clients and you aren’t a part of that discussion, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. You can’t control what is said in the blogosphere, but if you aren’t out there – you can’t respond, discuss or engage in it either, and I would bet at least a few of your competitors have already joined the online conversation.
According to several surveys, there are more than 57 million blogs with an average of 100,000 more being added each day. By my calculations, that takes us closer to 70 million blogs. That’s a lot of ideas, thoughts, discussions and conversations going on. The great thing about a blog is that it can have an audience of a million or an audience of ten and it still matters.
A blog can let your clients or customers know your approach to business, it can help you showcase your expertise. A blog can be used to discuss challenges in your industry or put out questions to your readers and ask for their input. It can open up a conversation with a potential customer or client – a conversation that might not happen without a blog.
For larger companies, a blog can put a human face to an organization. It can improve the company’s reputation or perception in the industry and the community. If the CEO chooses to blog, it can create dialogue with staff, customers, strategic partners, suppliers and communities.
A blog has to be authentic, with a true voice. The marketing team can’t be the bloggers unless they are willing to drop the marketing copy and the sales pitch and engage on a completely different level with customers, clients, and others. And it’s hard to do when you have spent your life thinking, writing and speaking “marketing.” Companies don’t blog, people do.
When you hit an authentic note with your audience you will feel it. It doesn’t mean you have to put forward every little problem that your company has – it just means that your blog isn’t for “selling” – it’s for discussing, it’s for telling who you are and who the people in your company are and for being authentic and honest. But if a challenge comes up and someone asks you about it on your blog – talk to them. It’s amazing how supportive people will be if you give them the chance and are honest with them. We’ll forgive a person or a company that makes a mistake if they acknowledge it and do their best to make it right.
A blog is a direct connection to your target market. It’s a way to really talk with them and to listen to them. For years, large companies have paid tens of thousands of dollars to hold focus groups to find out what people think. Now, that conversation with consumers is at your fingertips.
I’d be interested to hear if you think it’s worth it, and if you do – to read your blogs.
Great (in my opinion) Entrepreneurial Blogs
Great (in my opinion) corporate blogs
Where Do I start? Well, at the beginning, of course.
Choosing blogging software
To get started, visit a site like Blogger.com or WordPress.com and sign up for an account. TypePad has a nominal monthly fee, WordPress and Blogger.com are free.
They’re out there talking …
Check out what is being said about you, your industry, your mother on the blogosphere.
There is so much more to talk about … We are also developing short one-hour seminars that will be held in a series over a 5-week period on PR 2.0 and using the online world to promote your business, your career, your association, your passion. Let us know what you would like to see in these seminars. We will be posting the content of the first series shortly – so send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or put post your two cents worth to the blog!
Thanks for stopping by and checking out what we have to say.