The truth is, not all businesses need to have a blog. Blogevangelists might have you believe otherwise, but there are always enthusiasts that make blanket endorsements for up and coming technologies.
The back and forth between blog pundits and critics reminds me of all the noise people used to make in the mid nineties about web sites. There were as many critics on the need for a web site then as there are about blogs now. Half of all SMBs still don’t have web sites today, but does anyone question the value of a web site?
Blogs are tools. People are keen to criticize things they don’t understand. Most people that blog don’t understand the potential uses of blogs and RSS, let alone blog critics.
Steve Rubel made some great points about the value of a business blog recently:
- Significant competitive advantage -you could become the loudest voice in a channel where your competitors are absent
- Press and consumers read blogs – either willingly (RSS/bookmarks) or unwillingly (Google); like it or not they influence purchases
- Blogging aint going away. The conversation is going to go on without you. Be there or be square
- Blogs are a cost-effective marketing tool that helps smaller and mid-sized companies generate more attention. Just look at Stonyfield Farms.
Applications for blogs as marketing/communication tools:
- Blogs are a great content management systems. With customization of templates, the line between web site and blog is blurred. The end user doesn’t care.
- Most blog software automatically offers an additional distribution channel through RSS feeds. The use of blog software for company press release archives, newsletters and articles makes it easy for consumers and media to subscribe.
- A blog can gain visibility on both traditional search engines as well as the blogosphere. In fact, blogs are ideal for search engine visibility. Bring together fresh, themed content with proper HTML structure, lots of links and proper keyword usage and you have a search engine traffic magnet.
- Need proof? Search for “marketing blog”. This blog is #1 on Google, #2 on Yahoo and #1 on MSN.
Does your business need a blog? Maybe, maybe not. IBM thinks so. Blogs are tools. Tools are only as good as the person using them.
The number of blog consultants and blog coaches popping up also reminds me of the number of web designers that appeared after FrontPage and similar WYSIWYG HTML editors became popular. Blogs like web sites, are easy to set up. Generating measurable results with a blog is another matter.
If you need help deciding whether there are worthwhile applications of blog technology for your online communications strategy, pick a blog consultant that can demonstrate experience, not just a collection of self-edifying blog posts.