There were two newspaper articles that caught my eye this week.
One featured the ‘The Bleat’. I had written a column on why blogging was important and the Advertiser picked it up to create a piece for the business pages. It was drastically edited. I felt it sort of left the icing and cut the cake. My mother was impressed but pointed out that the man on the facing page was wearing a similar shirt to me.
The other article was on the growing number of ghost blogs. That is, abandoned blogs that died silently, quietly without a whimper.
The article however hardly failed to surprise, as the blogs quoted as the ‘Marie Celeste’ of the on-line world were from Lindsay Lohan, Melanie Griffith and Barbara Streisand.
The article went on to conclude ‘Research suggests that most ghost blogs are abandoned simply because their authors run out of things to say, have not got the time to write or have moved on to more exciting internet trends such as posting home videos on YouTube or collecting new friends on MySpace.’ (So Babs had moved on to collect friends in MySpace? And I’ll bet Lohan and Griffith are doing their best to keep their videos out of YouTube!)
I simply suspect the three examples he gave had nothing to say in the first place.
NASA has a great expression for the phenomenon. Whenever they have something that is obsolete and irrelevant and they can’t be bothered cleaning it up they simply stencil ‘Abandon in place’ on it and forget about it. The Kennedy Space Centre is littered with these monuments to a lack of sentimentality, including the Apollo 1 launch pad where 3 heroic astronauts were incinerated.
But it is not just blogs that are ‘abandoned in place’.
Most agency web sites look desolate to me – like the plaque on the side of the lunar landing module the one left behind on the dusty surface of the moon, that says ‘humanity was here, once, but they they’ve left, now.’ Even though most sites now incorporate ‘Flash’, most have not changed since the day they were posted several years ago. They are relics. Time capsules. Abandoned E-Brochures.
And although I say this about everyone else’s site, I know ours could be destined for the same fate if we don’t make a conscious effort to keep its heart beating.
Including and maintaining the blog does this.
Blogging has grown to take its permanent place in the mix of marketing communication mediums. It has matured from the on-line web logs of small interest insomniacs to become a valuable communication tool.
It is inexpensive. Most blogging software is free and only costs the time it takes for someone to engage in the conversation.
We’re using it to talk to people and provide personality, but why should you blog? Here are 8 blogging good reasons
1) Brand building by creating a buzz. A Blog is like a window that lets people look right into your business, see what you’re up to and begin talk about you in the market place. New product releases from the likes of Microsoft, Adobe and Apple are discussed on blogs long before their release dates creating palpable buzz as a launch background.
2) Improve customer loyalty by building a direct connection between you and your customer. Blogs give you the opportunity for direct and honest conversations with customers. It gives your brand evangelists somewhere to preach. It gives reluctant customers somewhere to form a relationship. And Brand Saboteurs a safe environment to mouth their gripes and grizzles.
3) Differentiation and product development. You can exploit your differences over and over again in a blog. And you can ask your customers to contribute to the development of that position by getting people freely involved in product critiques. Sun Systems in America run numerous blogs to help develop their software systems. General Motors do the same, from the Vice Chairman down.
4) React to negative perceptions and improve your public relations. Blogs are an excellent way to manage your online reputation. People are already talking about you online. A Blog allows you to be part of that conversation. Kryptonite Bike Locks found themselves in trouble in 2004. A blogger found he could pick the lock of a Kryptonite Lock with a ballpoint pen. Other bloggers picked up on the story and it quickly spun out of control. Worst of all Kryptonite had no idea what was going on. According to Jeremy Wright in his book ‘Blog Marketing’, more than 20 million people know about it in less than a week. What if they had been able to answer the problem a few hours after it had occurred – directly to the person who had noted it?
5) Position yourself as an expert and extend your influence. Blogs enable you to be the spokesperson for your industry – the Thought Leader. You can have people see your industry from your point of view and judge others by your standards.
6) Segment and target your brand influencers. Many companies run multiple blogs. Each one targeted at different groups of influences. One talking to suppliers. One talking to customers. One talking to key influencers. One talking to distributors. And so on.
7) Improve your visibility with Search Engine Marketing. Blogs give you an increased presence on major search engines. Web sites built in flash don’t offer much information to search engines. Blogs give Google and Yahoo! a deluge of words to index. By linking your site to others and others to you, you can move up the Google listing.
8) Improve your internal communication. Blogs are an ideal application for internal communications; management to staff and staff to staff. This is one of the most under-utilised areas of blogging. In any office where people are distanced from each other by time and location, a blog gives them the chance to join the conversation.
One month in, we’ve collected our first new business invitation through the blog. And as the software was free, it’s more than paid for itself already.