TECH NOUS Welcome to the Blogosphere

Business consultants are doing it. Journalists are doing it. And now an increasing number of corporate companies are doing it too – creating their own web log (or ‘blog’ for short) and realising the benefits of presence in the ‘blogosphere’.
Blogs are said to have originated around the end of 1997 when certain Jesse James Garret, editor of Infosift, began compiling list of other websites like his while surfing the net. That list was shared with friend and posted on another site, then similar sites began sending their URLs to add to the list. community was in the making and blogging was born.
A blog is personal journal or diary published on the web. Blogs frequently include philosophical reflections, opinions on the internet and social issues, and provide log of the author’s favourite web links. Blogs are usually presented in journal style with new entry each day. They are much more structured than chat-rooms, and the blogger is totally in control of the conversation and what gets posted.
Blogs also act as filter for people looking for information on particular topic or niche, according to Stephan Spencer, managing director of Netconcepts. His advice to companies is to carefully assign people to be their official bloggers – people with interesting personalities, good writing skills and who exercise sound judgement.
He believes corporates should take serious look at blogging, and the sooner the better.
“A blog gives the ability to provide special inside view of an organisation – putting human face on what many regard as ‘faceless corporations’. This is critical in an age when people are desperate to do business with people,” he says. “It’s also an opportunity for people to let their hair down little and provide an opinion, rather than just stick to the official PR line.”
Spencer says companies with blogs are more likely to be picked up by other blogs (in much the same way as the media spreads hot stories). Therefore, for example, if details on new product are posted out to the immediate blogging community, there’s good chance it will get good coverage.
Another reason to jump on the blog-wagon is the fact that the major search engines tend to give blogs high rankings. So if you’re having trouble getting your website connected – start up blog.
While you’re at it, you might like to try ‘podcasting’, an extension to blogging which involves posting audio files (conversations, interviews, music etc) which subscribers can download to their computer, MP3 player or iPod for their listening pleasure any time, any place.
‘Moblogging’ is another trend for blogsters – posting pictures to blog for sharing. You might snap some photos on your camera-phone at trade fair for example, then post them to your blog via mobile email.
Spencer predicts that blogging will eventually become so ubiquitous that you won’t be able to tell the difference between blog and website – blogs will be compared to websites in much the same way as colour television can be compared to black and white.
As for the importance of having corporate blog – Spencer cites the fiasco of an American company whose bicycle lock product was the subject of ‘blog storm’. Because the company had no bloggers with credible voice in the blogosphere to respond to the bloggers’ concerns about the lock’s security, the negative word-of-mouth continued to escalate and spilled over into the traditional media, resulting in product recall costing around third of the company’s annual revenue. What price to pay.

How to Jump on the Blog-Wagon
Smart tips for new bloggers from Stephan Spencer, managing director of web design, website optimisation, email marketing and e-commerce consultancy Netconcepts.
• Write blog posts as interesting links augmented with your own brief commentary. Use conversational tone and let your opinion shine through.
• Encourage audience participation by allowing readers to comment on blog posts.
• Update your blog frequently – aim for at least few posts each week.
• Use blogging service or software.
• Provide multiple paths to your posts – offer search engine so people can dig through old posts and categories to see all the topics that interest them.
• Register with blog directories and participate in blogger communities.
For more ideas go to Spencer’s blog

Glenn Baker is regular contributor to Management. [email protected]

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