BY NADINE FISHER, M.S.
No longer do you have to rely on the media to get your messageto the crowd. You can create your own blog and communicate directly with yourcustomers and the public. Blog expert Peter Blackshaw of Inteliseek says blogsare like “megaphones on steroids.” Blackshaw recently told a groupof PR professionals: “Whether you think bloggers are crackpots or not,many consumers trust them and more than they trust you.”
What is a Blog?
A blog, otherwise known as weblog, is online diary, journal, or instant webpage.Because there are many types of blogs, it’s hard to come up with asingle definition. Blogs evolve over time but at their core they resemblea personal journal, featuring online entries with distinct chunks of information.Some blogs devote entries to a page every day; others organize entries bypersonal categories. Over the years blogs have become a popular way to keepa personal website up to date on the net. Some blogs attract a huge audience,which is why they are now considered a serious tool for product marketing.On a smaller scale, blogs can form the basis of an online community or bringpeople with shared interests together.
How Blogs Work
Blog sites work like an online diary. Entries are usually organized by date,with the most recent entry first on the page. Maintenance is simple andaccomplished by logging on to the website to add new entries which arepublished immediately with a press of the button. Most blog sites providetemplates that can be used to define style and format. These templatescan also be easily modified or changed when the mood for change strikes.For individuals who are more tech savvy, blogs can also be linked intoan existing webpage and turn it into a live community hub.
Blogs are no longer restricted to plain text. There are a variety ofmedia that can be attached to a blog. For the digitalcamera user, vlogs (video blogging) can be used to post pictures, slideshows, and short movie clips. A photo blog might use photos instead oftext to reflect an experience, trip, or other interesting journey. Audioclips or taped conversation can also be linked to a blog to replace textor to accentuate a theme or topic.
The New Breed of Promotional Blogs
A promotional blog promotes or introduces a concept, product, orservice, generating awareness and buzz by inviting consumers to connectwith company products. Marketers now use promotional blogs in text andvideo forms (vlog) to connect with audiences and create buzz. Until a yearago, promotional blogs were practically non-existent. But times have changed.Recent estimates from the Blog Herald estimate over 34 million blogs nationwide (www.blogherald.com),
establishing a new standard of blog marketing.
Editors say a big benefit of blogging is that it allows writers "to reallyhone a voice.". FromWashington tell-alls to people on the frontlines in Iraq, bloggers are jumpingon the publishing bandwagon in a trend that industry insiders say benefitsboth writers and publishers.
"Anything that helps someone who is writing come to the attention ofthe public is going to help them on their road to being published," saysRobert Miller, president of Hyperion.
For publishers, such notoriety provides a head start in attracting attention. “Thehardest thing for publishers is getting any one book noticed, out of the50,000-plus books published every year," Miller says.
A Marketing Strategy to Seriously Consider
A promotional and/or interactive blog can provide an excellent marketingopportunity for your growing business. Consider adding one to your existingwebsite or developing an online presence with an independentlypublished promotional blog. Strategically developed, your promotional blogcan connect you with a widespread and continually growing communityof potential clients and customers.
Advantages of a Promotional Blog
1. Easy to create
2. Economical – costs only your time if you are comfortable with the technology
3. No knowledge of html or other web-content code necessary for stand-alonesite
4. Easy for others to participate
5 Good medium for ongoing case studies
6. Easy to manage
7. Easy to access via the web
8. Offers a personal marketing connection
9. Can personally introduce and invite a concept or product
10. Flexible – you can import a blog into your existing websiteor use one as a stand- alone site
11. Blog postings get better search engine ratings than articles on awebsite
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Nadine Fisher is a Nutrition and Technology Consultant based in IowaCity, Iowa. She can be reached at Nadine@nutritionnetworks.com.