Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Succeeding in the Blogosphere

There are a number of recent reports that shed light on what’s going on in the blogosphere and how to succeed there, especially for business bloggers. Time to take a look and try to bring some of them together.

Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008 surveyed bloggers themselves as well as analyzing its own stats. The stats on the number of blogs make it clear that the blogosphere is huge and active. A lot of blogging is personal, but business blogs are quickly assuming a prominent role in the communications strategies of companies large and small. This chart shows some of the downsides for the business blogger, but the outcomes are generally positive and include industry and enterprise visibility. That should encourage employees to blog.

The report also makes it clear that products and brands are important subjects of posts for both personal and business bloggers. The degree to which bloggers consider blogs an important and valid source of information is striking. Ok, they are biased, and you do have to consider the source of your information before deciding to trust it. People are, for better or for worse, placing considerable trust in the information they acquire. More about that tomorrow. The report has a lot of information; it’s worth a read.

How do businesses make the blogosphere work for them?
Two recent studies from Compendium Blogware provide strong recommendations.

The first is a whitepaper about blogging for search. The rules for making your blog posts visible in search results (organic results are the most effective, good news for those who can’t afford a lot of PPC) are the same as they are for web sites. You just have more control over how you do it on a blog. The basic rules are to use keywords in post titles and content. Links can be helpful. Keeping content current, while not eliminating the old, is an advantage of blogs over websites. Blogs need to be active and they need clear focus. I’d add that tagging can be very useful in bringing in traffic through search.

Why is that traffic so important? It’s the best acquisition method, bar none. It brings unique new visitors to the blog and site. The other whitepaper uses Marketing Sherpa data to look at the critical relationship between blogging—to acquire new potential customer contacts—and email for ROI—read that conversion. That relationship alone is enough to encourage corporate blogs, although it’s important to note that acquisition of potential customer contact information doesn’t happen by accident. It has to be carefully designed into the overall communications program. The report points out that there’s also a benefit in terms of content. The business has to produce a lot of content for its blog. Using content wisely between blogs, email, and dynamic site content can leverage the value of that content.

The value and credibility of traditional advertising approaches seems to be on an irreversible downward slide. The value, credibility and consumption of user or employer-generated content are all on the rise. What marketer doesn’t want to take advantage of a more cost-effective channel of communications that has greater credibility with the target audience? That’s the value of business blogging in a nutshell.

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