Some people would say it’s a fairly simple question to answer. What is a Blog? Is it a Bulgarian log? Perhaps it’s the next letter along from ‘A’log? What ever you thought it was at the start of reading this, hopefully by then you will know a bit more about what blogs and blogging is.
If we want to go right back to the very beginning of it all we have to head back to 1994 when it is widely accepted that the first bog was created by Swarthmore student Justin Hall, Links.net. It was a basic site where the author could post his thoughts to the world. In fact it has not changed much in the years since its inception and you can still visit Justin’s writings in its form today. Making Links.net the oldest blog in history to date. It wasn’t until 1997 that the term “Weblog” for “logging the Web,” was uttered by another online writer Jorn Barger. finally this was shortened to the term we all know today “blog” by the programmer Peter Merholz.
Blogging has become one of the most widely accepted and used internet presences of our time, with current estimates of up to 200 million blogs currently. One popular blogging platform WordPress, which is a service that allows people to create and host there now blogs (in fact just like this one!) states it has, “409 million people viewing more than 15.5 billion pages each month.” Just on those figures alone you can get an understanding of just how powerful a medium blogging has become in the fabric of social media networks.
But where does this all fit in the world of business? Can a blog be a business and can blogs or blogging help businesses? To answer the first question first. Undoubtably a blog can be a business. From the inception of the internet and the rise of the ability to post ones thoughts on a blog. There has been people who have gained huge audiences for their writings, some have already been business people in the example of Seth Godin. While others have turned their blogs into their business and reinvented their lives completely, such as Leo Babauta. A massive step forward for all of this to be possible was Google’s creation of AdWords in 2003. This allowed anyone to place advertising on their site through Google’s platform and potentially monetize their writing and audience.
It was obvious by now that blogs could be a business and with this several new companies were formed. In 2002 Gizmodo is launched and later that year Gwaker becomes the internet blog of choice for gossip. And in 2005 we see the birth of the online news blog Huffington Post. All of these business have gone on to become more than just simple blogs and now spread themselves across technology, news and human interest. But what hasn’t changed is the post and comment style of blogging itself. It is this ability to connect to so many people in an intimate one to one nature that makes blogs an appealing outlet for businesses to give their voice into the world-wide web.
This leads us to the next question, should your business blog? Like all things in the world of social media networks and the internet, just because it is there does not necessarily mean that you should use it. As with all other businesses decisions there needs to be a strategy and a plan as to who to use a blog to help your business. A blog is really another part of your marketing mix. It may be functional and information. It might be personal and candid. It may even be offbeat and irreverent. But it should always reflect the values of your brand. Blogs like other forms of social media networks create a unique opportunity to connect with your customers, add to your profile to attract new business and influence others. The company Priceonomics consistently creates a stir with its blogs to its customers, with titles like “Are one star reviews for assholes.” Equally however a company can do itself real damage if it fails to understand the power of a business blog. Just posting press releases no longer cuts it in todays rampant social media world.
Hopefully now you know a little more about where blogs came from, what business can do with them and maybe even something you want to blog about yourself. So don’t just sit there…Blog!