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Learn About Blogs
Blogs are powerful marketing tools that your business can use to gather market intelligence and customer feedback.  
What is a Blog?  
There are many other ways to collect consumer insight, such as focus groups and surveys, but those methods are very expensive, especially for small companies. Blogs, on the other hand, are a very inexpensive form of marketing--an affordable solution that gives you and your business a way to create and sustain relationships with people.  
A blog, simply said, is an online diary where you publish your thoughts on a specific topic. It looks like a website and has its own direct link so others can access and comment on the information you posted.  
Blogs are usually written in conversational style—with an authentic style, honesty, and authority. The main purpose of blogs is to create a space for open communication. Therefore, Blogs give customers a voice in the company. Customers, who read your blog, choose to interact with you and your company. Similarly, when you decide to blog, you chose to interact online with your customers and your audience.  
Because blogs are web pages you can add pictures, video, voice files, diagrams and much more.  
Did you know?
Blogs first appeared in 1997, initially known as "web–logs", the name quickly evolved to the term blog.
The Blogging Process  
Blogs provide an environment for a genuine conversation. When you set up your business blog, readers of your blog will have the opportunity to write comments about your posts; this virtual communication enables you and your business to:  
  • Interact with your costumers and / or employees
  • Tell them what you think and what you are doing
  • Establish a mechanism for open and genuine feedback
  • Build stronger relationships with your costumers or employees
  • Turn customers and employees into evangelists for your company and products
  • Obtain knowledge from employees and costumers
  • Receive feedback about your products and services
  • Find out what your customers want
Now, let’s learn some basic but important Blog terminology that you should be familiar with.  
Blog Dictionary  
  • Blog – An online dated diary listing your periodic thoughts on a specific topic, often in reverse chronological order. It looks like a website and has its own direct link.
  • Blogger – a person who owns or writes a blog
  • Blogging – the act of posting on blogs
  • Blogosphere – The internet blogging community
  • Blogroll – A list of other blogs that a blogger might recommend by providing links to them (usually in a sidebar list).
  • Comments – are the comments submitted by readers on individual blog posts. Comments appear at the bottom of a post, with the oldest comments listed first.
  • External Blog – created to enhance external communication with customers
  • Internal Blog – created to enhance internal communication with employees, as well as across business units, teams and departments
  • Permalinks – Each time a post is added to a blog, it’s placed on the home page. At the same time, a permalink page is created to contain only that blog post and its comments.
  • Posts or entries – Each time a blogger updates the blog, he or she creates a blog post, or entry, that is added to the blog.
  • RSS – is a way readers can subscribe to your blog and access the latest updates by using a newsreader such as Google Reader. Subscribers automatically receive the latest updates via the newsreader rather than visiting your blog.
  • Search Engine – Google and Yahoo are examples of search engines. They help you find what you are looking for in the internet.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Is a non-paid service. Refers to the process of ranking high in search engines. Websites (including blogs) rank high based on the relevance of their content and it´s connection with the search phrase.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – Is paid advertising. It refers to the short text advertisements which generally appear at the top or down the right hand side of search engine results. These are often labeled as "sponsored Links" or "sponsored results".
Did you know?
Many start-ups and small companies use blogs to create an air of anticipation about their upcoming product launches.
These are few of the most popular categories of business blogs that you can use:  
Blog Category How to start?
Product Blog The blogger writes about product characteristics, technical specifications, tips and tricks, user guides, new products, future products, R&D news, and any other product enhancing information.
Company / Corporate / Organization Blog The blogger writes about aspects of the company which are directly related to its strategic goals. It is vital to keep focused and write only about important aspects of the business, but most importantly, use your company blog as a genuine, authentic voice of your company. The company´s blog is the space to write about innovation, new services, exciting news, among other topics.
News Blog The blogger shares news coverage of interest to the company’s target segment and audience. News Blogs are great to redirect people to your company’s website.
Expert Blog The blogger writes knowledgably about a specific topic, demonstrates vast expertise in a field of interest to the company’s target segment. Also a great way to redirect traffic to your business’ website.
Did you know?
One study done by public relations firm Euro RSCG Magnet shows that more than half (51 percent) of journalists use Blogs regularly for source information.
Setting up your external business blog will help you market your company. If you write frequently, passionately, and knowledgably Blogs can help you achieve your business goals:  
  1. Increase sales: you can reinforce the benefits of your products, expand on your selling points, build on your sales literature, or comment on innovative ways of using your product in order to stimulate sales
  2. Drive traffic to your website: search engines prefer “fresh” information, so if your blog is frequently updated with relevant information, the chances of improving your search engine rankings go up. Once a reader accesses your blog, you can redirect that person to your website, a place where you can initiate and/or close business transactions.
  3. Minimize marketing costs: Having your blog linked to and commented on by bloggers across the globe spreads the word quickly and markets your company. Every post adds a new page to your Web site and is another opportunity for your blog to come up as a search result without having to pay for the costs associated with search engine marketing.
  4. Increase brand awareness: of your company, products, and services. Blogs are accessible anywhere in the world, anytime, and are readable by anyone who can access a computer. The community driving the blogosphere is huge! So promote your brand by blogging.
  5. Improve customer service and support: blogs are available 24/7. You can use your blog to provide answers to frequently asked questions and to deal with product issues or general costumer concerns.
  6. Improve your corporate image: reach out to improve your image! Blogs are an invaluable tool for putting a human face on the organization. Show that you care about your customers, and be genuine. Blogs can help you build a strong and positive public opinion, goodwill, and loyalty for your products.
  7. Add value to your products and services: blogs enable a two-way dialogue with your audience. Use this feedback to improve your internal processes and the quality of your products.
  8. Influence the media and public opinion: The fact that the media is using blogs for reporting demonstrates that blogs have an enormous potential to influence the public.
  9. Build long term relationships with your customers: blogging makes your organization more porous and transparent, this helps you create loyalty for your company.
  10. Retain knowledge and talent within the organization: Blogs help you gather valuable consumer feedback and insights; they also help you foster an environment of collaboration within your company. You can use all this knowledge for product development and to improve your processes and accordingly.
Did you know?
In July 2007, the blog search engine Technorati (www.technorati.com) was tracking more than 93.8 million blogs from all over the world.
Features of Blogs  
Blogs usually have a few features that are useful to know about:  
Archives As people add comments to a blog, older posts begin to move down the list, until they finally disappear from the surface and are moved to the blog archives. Archives are easily accessible by clicking on the archives link.
Categorized archives Archives can be organized by subject. Clicking a category link displays only the posts in that subject area, in reverse chronological order.
Date-based archives Nearly every blog is archived as it’s published, by date and by category. In the sidebar of a blog, you can usually access both archive methods.
Frequent updates Blogs are usually updated a few times a week or a day.
Chronological order The most recent comments show at the top and travel down as new comments are posted. New posts are always at the top.
Branding/logo header A header at the top of the blog displays the name of the blog, often using a logo. This header is visible on every page of the blog, identifying it even to a visitor who visits one of the interior pages without first going to the home page.
Post information Each blog entry displays information about the post like the date and time the post was published, the name of the post’s author, and the number of comments on the post.
Information about the author Put together a short bio and other information relevant for readers. This information is sometimes displayed in the sidebar, or linked.
RSS feed link (Really Simple Syndication link) A blog often includes an RSS link near the bottom of the sidebar identified by a small orange icon. This link is useful for you and your readers, so you and they can follow your blog constantly without having to visit the blog several times a day.
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