BLOGS PROVIDE PERSONAL COMMUNICATION
BLOGS PROVIDE PERSONAL COMMUNICATION
I am indebted to Susan Guaneri for many of the comments and definitions about blogs given at her luncheon presentation and get-together at Career Directors International, October 20, 2006.
Blogs continue to gain in popularity. Not only do political blogs exist, but also many Web sites now include comments for participants to "blog." Everyone has an opinion. Blogs allow opinions to be expressed, negative or positive. Some companies are even finding blogs suitable for their employees to express opinions about company procedures, policies, and activities. However, a company should be warned that certain employees may use the blog to express ideas contrary to company rules and regulations.
One recent research survey defined a blog as a type of Web page: "Blogs are a type of Web page, typically created and maintained with software that allows Internet users to easily post material to a Web page, usually displaying the material in reverse chronological order with the newest items at the top" (Pew Internet & American Life Project, "Teen Content Creators and Consumers," November 2, 2005, by Lenhart and Madden). Louise Fletcher in her "The ABCs of Blogging" defined a blog as frequently updated: "A blog is simply a frequently updated Web site where the posts (or articles) are offered in chronological order (www.careershotwire.com)." Think of a blog as deriving from the words, Web log. Mollie Crie, an educator with 22 years in the classroom and teaching at Bedford County Schools in Forest, Virginia adds a little more information about defining a blog as a tool: "A blog is a Web publishing tool that allows authors to quickly and easily self-publish text, artwork, links or Web sites and other content. (Glencoeonline, Teaching Today, October, 2006, p. 1)."
Too many people interpret blogs as "digital dirt." A good blog is far from that. It is a tool to express oneself. That is often called a personal blog. It is a kind of personal diary. My.space, for example, caters to the person who likes to create a personal diary. The second kind of blog is called a resource blog. It usually provides links to help others with similar concerns. The popularity--as with all blogs--depends on how the blogger keeps up the site to help others. The expert on this blog should be friendly and compelling.
The third kind of blog might be called a thought leader. In this blog the preparer is giving the impression about some kind of theme that appeals to certain kinds of readers. The thought leader brings up an issue and asks for the implications from the blog readers. The thought leader is provoked by the discussion. The thought leader is trying to establish a connection with the blog audience. The credibility and the personality of the leader are being increased. It all depends on the tone. Ask this question as you read a "thought leader" blog: Do you know the person virtually?
So far the reader may have been led to think of blogs as only personal communications. That is not entirely true. One could create a resource team of experts on a particular subject. These experts could answer and write blogs periodically during a year or a month. Granted, they will need to mesh their styles somewhat, but each could write on a particular part of the subject that they had special knowledge about. They could, for example, create a career focus or a specialized topic appealing to a limited audience.
Companies and institutions that allow blogs from their employees should expect the sense of the company culture on the blog. Comments on blogs should be appropriate. Network links are certainly welcomed. It is an image the company is trying to portray. If the blog from certain employees is far short of conveying that image, the blog has probably failed.
A blog can have too much information, just as a Web site may possess useless data. One should be aware that companies looking for prospective applicants may peruse blogs. It is a drama you are presenting on the blog. You need a theme for your content.
Think of blogs as connections. Work on blogs by using keywords. Think of a blog as having to be maintained. People notice your credibility by how well you maintain your blog. It is not magic to create a blog. Know who your audience is. You may use a blog to advertise some of your writings, but that is not the main purpose of a blog. Create a natural blog voice; audiences know what kind of person you are. It is as if you are writing to a friend (apologies to Ernest Jacobi, co-author of On-the-Job Communications for Business, Industry, Government, and the Professions, 2d ed.). In a blog you need good, frequent content. You need to consider: "Here's this link to . . . " Blogs might take two or three minutes to compose or up to an hour or more. To write an effective blog, one should jot down on a notepad ideas that might be used on an upcoming entry. It might be an incident from the clients you have. It might be a a question your clients had. Think about blogs as a community. Don't forget you can add to other people's blogs with comments and insights as well as establishing credibility with your own thinking.
I am indebted to Susan Whitcomb's thinking in her Blog Teleseminar, sponsored by Career Master's Institute (and others) on Janury 12, 2007, for the next two paragraphs.
Blogs can be inexpensive or free. You may choose a particular Web site (www.typepad.com)and secure a 30-day trial of the program and then pay so much each month after the trial. In the case of a more expensive system, you will be able to achieve more varied applications. For a free system, such as www.blogger.com, you will probably be able to post about three blogs a month. Before you decide on a free or inexpensive system, you should read others' blogs. See how they achieve their natural voice. See how they handle comments from the audiences. Look at the traffic patterns.
As you express your community voice through a blog, don't forget why you have considered a blog. You want regular visitors and you want want good, frequent content (courtesy: Louise Fletcher, "The ABCs of Blogging). Therefore, consider these reasons why you should create a blog:
Why do search engines love these blogs? Search engines, such as Google, are looking all the time for references to help their lurkers. You want your blog to be seen so often that you are listed high on a search engine's list as a source for immediate help.
- to demonstrate your expertise to potential clients
- to raise awareness of you and your services
- reinforce your personal or business brand
- to show clients you are up-to-date. (source: Louise Fletcher, "The ABCs of Blogging")
You noticed one of the points of the previous list dealt with branding. Somehow you want to achieve a niche or a target where you can sell your ideas or your products. You want your internal brand that will assess your values, your mission, and your differentiation from your competitors. It is a reality of how you are coming across. You come through your personality with the following idea: "I can help you with your business." That connection is all important with your brand. I know, for example, of a professional marketing woman who has established her brand as "The Horse Whisperer of Business." Anytime you need marketing help and branding you look for the "Horse Whisperer." She has parlayed her excellent program into a book on Brilliance Unbridled as well as numerous marketing seminars (Kendall Summerhawk). Branding is what you make of it in blogs. Certainly, you should decide early what kind of branding you want to promote and what kind of blog you want to choose.
Last Updated February 16, 2007
copyright (c) G. Jay Christensen, 2007