Some 73% of advertising and media executives surveyed recently said up to 20% of their marketing budgets are allocated to using and experimenting with new media platforms such as blogs. Simply stated, blogging is a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored by today's competitive companies.
First, let me answer what a blog is: A blog is a user-generated Web site where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order. The term "blog" is derived from "Web log."
So how does your company best harness the power of blogs?
Here is a list of common-use cases for any organization:
1. Corporate newsroom 2.0
Blogs make getting the official word out about your company amazingly simple. The benefits include (1) quickly giving consumers company updates, (2) allowing for open feedback with consumers, and (3) inclusion in search engine indexes, and thus possible increased traffic. Companies can even take this blog-type further by creating an online newsletter with community feedback. Another example is the Google Press Center.
2. Product blog
Provides your customers the ability to create an official community where they can give feedback on a product or service. Companies benefit by creating a central place to get immediate, honest feedback that can result in product/service improvements. Another example is Quickbook's Product Blog.
3. Developer/channel partner network
Similar to a product blog, but focused on creating a place for your channel partners to provide feedback during the product development process. The benefits are allowing real-time input from your partners as well as keeping them up to date with your industry. An example is the Yahoo Developer Network.
4. Event/promotional blog
Blogs do not need to be permament. Often, short-lived blogs are used as a central communication for an upcoming event. SoCon07—the "social media mashup of the south"—utilizes a blog to keep attendees in the know about news leading up to their big event. Another example is the Fundraisers Blog.
5. CEO/thought-leader blog
Unfortunately, most companies only consider this use of a blog. They were the focus of early blog adopters and thus set the stage for organizations considering a blog. Be smart and don't limit your blog to just the CEO. An example is Jason Calacanis of Sequoia Capital.
6. Company evangelist
Liberate the intellectual capital of your organization with a Company Evangelist blog. These blogs are typically led by company middle managers who are also embedded in blogging circles. Because these are written in a less formal manner as a CEO/Thought Leader Blog, the content tends to be viewed as more trustworthy. An example is Matt Cutts, a well-known blogger who works at Google.
7. Internal blogs
Unfortunately, you will never see some of the most useful blogs. Your team, however, can benefit by creating internal blogs to share links, collaborate and educate. Many are inaccessible, but Adobe, for example, makes a list open to the community.
So which blog is best for your company?
As with the best advice of an investment portfolio—diversify. Don't limit or constrain your blog to only one single use. Experiment with several different ones until you find one that connects best with your audience. Whatever the blog, make it a corporate initiative to get one started now.
What is clear and well-established are the benefits of blogs. For marketing, you will see improved search rankings, increased web traffic, and quick adoption into the search engines. What is sometimes forgotten, however, are the customer service benefits—any customer can appreciate honest, open communication.