What is a blog used for?
It was the BritMums Live! blogging conference in London and it was packed to the gills with bloggers, mainly women, and a lot of babies! Talking about family life seems to be a natural requisite to getting women to blog, but congregated in subservient and bewildered groups were a few men, two of whom nevertheless won a blogging category at the Best in Blogging (BIB) awards.
This conference gave the impression that a blog is used for self-expression, practising writing, reviewing products and acquiring a large readership. Such mind-blowing statistics were banded about that put my poor little blog to shame. Here are bloggers that seem to spend every waking moment writing (when not feeding and changing babies or collecting children from school), and this conference certainly inspired more blogging content suitably adapted to appeal to their audiences as well as the search engines.
So what is a blog used for? I have determined seven categories: self expression, showcasing expertise, reviewing products, journalism, group blogging, online marketing and monetising through advertising. In fact, because there are so many variable uses of a blog, this can create confusion and conflict amongst blogging gurus when asked why should we blog, or what methods are best, how often should we blog, blogging tactics, styles and much more.
Looking at a blog as an online diary, it lends itself to being a medium for setting the world to rights, as somewhere to collect your thoughts, aspirations, ideals, observations or whatever. Here you can truly be yourself: funny, morose, argumentative, contraversial, witty or stating the obvious, though a conversational style is best when trying to entertain your readers. It could, however, be a dumping ground for your thoughts without any consideration for your audience, as a blog is a personal vehicle for expression through writing.
A blog can contain much more material than a website, so it can become somewhere to explain more about a business, provide examples of skills, services or case studies, explore a concept in more depth or set the author up as a thought-leader in their chosen industry or niche. New entries are placed chronologically above older content, which can be suitably archived for future reference, and there is no limit to how much material can be contained in a blog.
Quite a lot of the ‘mummy bloggers’ appeared to be reviewers for brands and their new products, especially if they are child related. Businesses will value a popular blog with a healthy readership and good connections with social media, as that is how information within the posts will be presented in front of an ever-increasing audience, especially if the blog owner is pro-active in social networking and bookmarking. This concept can be extended to any prolific writer with a good presence within the blogosphere, particularly for products that may not resinate with a mother!
For anybody in the world of journalism, politics, publishing or the rest of the media, as well as having a prolific Twitter account, they should be blogging. Since blogs are an immediate method of publishing content on the web (as so is Twitter), it is imperative that those in this profession should be pro-active here if they are to maintain their finger on the pulse. The BBC website is a massive blog that is updated every second, as so are the other newspaper websites and those for the Government. Blogs provide an fast and furious medium for finding out as soon as the news breaks, or as a point of reference for past material, and all this activity stimulates an excellent response from the search engines due to consistent new content and working with trending information found via the social networking sites.
This is a great way for a writer to guest post on blogs that are popular with excellent ratings, in order to receive more traffic back to their own blogs. Group blogs excel by recruiting good content on a variety of topics, and arrange for a consistent flow of material to be ready at specific times for posting to ensure constant awareness of the search engines for ranking purposes as well as entertainment for the readership. Another version of this are the blog carnivals, which invite posts on a specific subject to be published on a particular day.
Now this is what I envisage how businesses should be thinking what is a blog used for: ideally as a hub or mothership of a social media or online marketing strategy. A blog is a fabulous medium to help businesses promote themselves online, as everything should come from and return back to it. It provides somewhere to fully explain your campaign with every persuasive technique available, something that may not be possible within the limited capacities of social networking, so must rely on drawing attention of prospective customers back to it and thence onto the website for the business transaction. Blogs are perfect for content marketing, which takes advantage of the search engine algorithms within the new SEO tactics, as well as engaging and nurturing every kind of customer the business may have.
Monetising through advertising
Those with little imagination still think of blogs in the old fashioned sense: how to make money from them. Blogs are an ideal medium for affiliates to add their adverts or banners to attract new customers or recruits to their campaigns. They do, however, rely on blogs with a high traffic turnover, and this requires the blogging owner to post prolifically using all the SEO tactics available to draw in a suitable audience for his advertisers. Unfortunately this may not result in good content, in the content marketing point of view, and also what the new Panda and Penguin algorithms are looking for, unless of course more than one author is deployed. Another thing to note is that affiliate blogs need to spread their advertising presence evenly around the blog’s theme, as multiple adverts congregated ‘above the fold’ may result in the blog being penalised by the search engines, as they deem the content to be sub-standard because of the need for a high turnover.
What is a blog used for? Being aware will enable you to chose the most appropriate function suited to your needs and use it to the best of your abilities.