What is a blog, you ask? Short for “Web Log,” it’s an increasingly popular way to self-publish online. You can actually syndicate your articles, making this a great way for experts to showcase their specialized knowledge.
Think of a blog as a form of an online journal, with frequent postings and observations on items of interest. Most blogs focus on a narrow subject area, which is ideal for experts. Hyperlinks to articles, websites and other blogs make this a very interactive medium that encourages audience participation.
The Pew Internet Study estimates that about 11% of Internet users – translating to 50 million people – are regular blog readers. Technorati, which claims to be the authority on what’s going on in the world of weblogs, tracks almost 42 million blogs.
Lawyers are active bloggers. According to an online survey conducted by Blogads.com late last year, 6.1% of bloggers work in the legal profession futmax.org. The Litigation Section of the American Bar Association discovered that the majority of section members surveyed read at least one blog regularly and almost 20% publish their own blog.
The best way to understand a blog is to look at a few. The Google Blog has a very simple appearance. By contrast, some blogs in the legal market can be very sophisticated, like E-Discovery Law offered by Preston Gates & Ellis LLP or the ERISA Blog maintained by The Law Office of B. Janell Grenier. Law Professor Blogs offers a rich network of links to law blogs maintained by legal academics.
If your business could gain a direct connection to individual customers in the largest customer pool on earth, informing and relating personally to each of them through a medium centered on your business, wouldn’t that be great? Better yet, what if it was free of cost except for the time you invest? Not only is it possible, for many businesses, Blogs have proven to be one of the most powerful ebusiness-customer communication tools capable of producing just that. For this reason alone, at least considering a blog as a strategy for your business should be a priority. Communication and efficiency both stand to benefit.
Bloggers are often likened to preachers or evangelists, which compares favorably to the weak communication loops that are typically problematic between many businesses and their clients. Honest and balanced timely customer feedback can be elusive even with focus groups. The delay in a company reacting to a small problem may allow that problem to gestate into something much larger. Blogging is a savvy way to make up for input gaps from customers by allowing for real-time, voluntary responses from individuals who are enthusiastic about your business or field. This may come in the form of thoughtful suggestions or criticisms of existing aspects of your business that enlighten you to improvements, which you may never have considered. The connection between yourself (as the blogger) and your customers is comfortable and informal, allowing for a conversation that is personal and intimate. As a result, your clients and advocates can respond with no pressure with friendly conversations that you never would have had time for in person.
Business blogging can create buzz that is humanized with one tool and also boost the efficiency of your business in other ways. Insofar as marketing and advertising, a blog has several of the qualities of an internet campaign or other profile-booster. It can compliment (or even serve as) your website, which makes it easier for search engines to find your business. Blog service providers are constructed to be search engine-friendly, and the more sites your blog links to (or that link to your blog), the more traffic your website is likely to attract. Because blogs deliver all of the news of your business in a concise form, it can also serve as an e-newsletter, which can be subscribed to or syndicated with RSS. By making your business available on new syndicatable fronts, your business can attain a frequency and reach with a new level of targeting for business prospects.
Another aspect of the blog that many executives who have turned to blogging espouse is the self-examination of your business that occurs when you blog. The business blogger is compelled to crystallize, organize and define every aspect of the business, both for themselves and for others. In doing so, not only can your business become more refined, it can also “know itself” better. To compliment this, a blog can also be made to work internally (known as an intra-blog) as well as externally, operating as an inter-office communication tool that offers many advantages over e-mail. Best of all, by making communication readily available to anyone with an Internet connection, your business can position itself as a leader in its industry. Additionally, even if your business website is lacking (or if you don’t have one at all), the icing on the cake is that blogs organize information in a way that is easy to read and while remaining attractive to the eye.