Blogs, eh? The first thought that comes to your head when someone says "blogger" is probably and image of a bored American middle-aged mother with nothing better to do than write about her sweet sweet children (See example) or a spoilt teenage girl with a serious attitude problem (See example). Blogs do, or at least used to have the reputation of being an utterly useless waste of time. However, the infamous prestige is slowly being dismantled as increasingly many renowned and 'important' people are taking up blogging to communicate with their voters, fans, employees, team members and people interested in the same subjects (See a good example).
For a great introduction to the use and benefits of Blogs, see "Blogs in Plain English" (2:58min) on YouTube.
A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic.
The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts. As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs.
A blog can be private, as in most cases, or it can be for business purposes. Blogs, either used internally to enhance the communication and culture in a corporation or externally for marketing, branding or public relations purposes are called corporate blogs.
Tommi Rantanen describes blogging in his executive summary University 2.0 - Enhancing Communication and Collaboration in Universities as follows:
"Good blogs are updated quite frequently and every post usually includes several links to other sites, thus creating massive cross-linkages that transform the Web's structure. Bloggers usually follow other blogs and comment on them in their own writings. Blogs which have much interaction can even create a considerably tight community. Subject based blogs offer also an effective way to follow certain interest areas."
The Berkeley economist, J. Bradford DeLong, on the role of academic blogging in his article "The Invisible College" (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2006):
(Blogging) is a play in the intellectual influence game...A great university has faculty members who do a great many things - teaching undergraduates, teaching graduate students, the many things that are "research", public education, public service and the turbocharging of the public sphere of information and debate that is a principal reason that governments finance and donors give to universities. Web logs may well be becoming an important part of that last university mission."
Alexander Wilms on blogs in "The Trouble With Web 2.0 - Can it work for the large enterprise?"
"Tim O'Reilly (widely credited with coining the term Web 2.0) states that the "blogosphere" creates a structure that resembles the human brain. Expressing an idea in a single blog might not change the world, but if this idea is picked up, discussed and commented in a large number of blogs it not only gets the attention of many people - it might get enhanced, developed, refined, challenged and eventually transformed evolutionary into something that might influence the way of the world. Like in the anthill or the human brain this process is not controlled by a single instance - it is driven by the participation and cooperation of many individuals with their individual motives (see Emergence). This absence of a controlling instance allows for creativity, progress of ideas and the expression of individual opinions. The old saying that the whole is more than the sum of the parts is true here."
Benefits and different uses of blogging:
- An extremely easy and cheap way of publishing content on the web
- No HTML knowledge needed
- Blogging applications are very simple to use
- Enables direct communication to and with people interested in your thoughts
- Helps tackle the problem of email overload
- Corporate blogs enhance communication inside and outside the organization
- Different uses include for example:
- Team communication
- Leadership communicating strategic and other decisions
- A powerful tool for change management
- Teams communicating with each other
- Publishing organizational news
- Informing people for example about relevant new market trends / news
- Corporate blogs also help break information 'silos'
- People are able to access critical data and knowledge more easily
- Finding true experts of business areas (the intranet search should also cover blog entries)
- Employees establish "Weak Ties" with their colleagues (see McAfee: The Ties that Find)
- Corporate blogging can of course be conducted safely behind the firewall
- External blogs can be used for
- Brand building
- Exploiting the niches
- Media & Public relations
- Strengthen customer commitment
- Different uses include for example:
R. Todd Stevens also provides a list of "Fifteen Uses of a Corporate Blog" in his blog, "Collaborage":
- Executive Communications
- Project Status Reporting
- Sharing Knowledge and Professional Expertise
- Gathering Collective Intelligence (Marketing Campaign)
- Sharing Experiences; Vendor, Partner, or Product
- Organizational Announcements and Upcoming Events
- Sharing External Research or Information (i.e. Great Blogs)
- Connecting the Enterprise Knowledge (RSS, Trackbacks, Bookmarking)
- Collecting Feedback from Townhalls, Meetings, or Off Site Sessions
- Archiving Lessons Learned
- Spreading Enthusiasm and Generating Buzz
- Establishing Though Leadership and Professional Brand
- Drive Traffic to an Internal Service like Collaboration Services
- Demonstrating a Code of Ethic or Corporate Policy
- Blogs in Plain English - YouTube video
- 11 advantages of using blogging for teaching - Slideshare presentation
- Evidence of the Value of a Blog - Andrew McAfee
- 10 Great Strategic Benefits of Blogging for Companies
- Homework the Teacher Learns From - Actual example: value of a corporate blog, McAfee
- Businesses Embrace Blogging - Rich Karpinski in BtoBOnline (June 9, 2008)
- Beyond Blogs: What Business Needs to Know - BusinessWeek cover story, June 2, 2008
- The Ties That Find - Andrew McAfee