The Future of ‘Blogging’

Photo Credit: Amanda Gravel

These are notes for a talk I am preparing for a 8 September opening keynote in Tallinn, at the Tallinn Blogfest conference. I was asked to think about the future of blogging as a marketing & communications tool.

Blogs are communication tools and they are just one component of your organization’s communication strategy.

You might be surprise in knowing how many companies don’t actually have a communication strategy or don’t even realize they need one. What they feel is the desperate need for a blog. The ‘new’ shiny object that they have to have in order to claim “We are 2.0!”. Non sense.

Can we anyway still call it blog? The term “weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997. A type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary. In 2002 I started with a definitely unattractive HTML page that I used to update like an on-line diary, then the first platforms came around (I fell in love with wordpress) and from simple text we have gone a long way.

Video for everyone with youtube, micro conversation with twitter, stream with friendfeed, ‘everything’ with posterous, now on the go with audioboo….uppsss maybe better say with an iPhone.

During the last decade we built the infrastructure for a digital world that today has barriers at the entrance that are zero or close to zero for everyone on global scale. We don’t even need computers anymore. We can rely on mobile devices that are hundreds times faster and more powerful that the terminals we were using when we first started to talk about blogging.

We are living in a mobile age. 2008 over 1.000.000.000 people have access to the internet of which 600.000.000 have access through their mobile devices. This year we reached 4.000.000.000 mobile phone subscribers. Long story short, if you are not mobile you are less useful.

We are living in a share economy. Yes I said “share” and I add to it a word that not everyone still likes to associate to business… “free!”. Free is not evil at all. No matter how good is your product, service, project. If you can’t communicate it effectively to your consumers or partners, well it’s worthless. Today we can share and spread brilliant ideas all over the world with few clicks. “Free” opens up a wide range of business opportunities. The Pareto principle applied to the online world. Ever heard about the 80-20 rule? Share 80% of great content for free and get 20% of great business. 90% of my clients come from the 80% I share everyday online.

Can we still talk about blogging? Is it still just about blogging?

It’s not. It’s about a mix of tools/channels that helps companies building dynamic relationships with customers, employees, shareholders, influencers of other key audiences. Even Obama recognizes that, in the same way a blog can’t survive on just one post a day, a presidency can no longer survive on one message per day or one press conference per year. Instead, you have to turn on a fire hose. You just need to think about the latest generation of mashup, web applications that combines data and/or functionality from more than one source, to understand that what we used to call ‘blogging’ is evolving taking new forms and shapes.

We are starting to see platforms and services that are mashup themselves. Think about what this new generation of services can represent for individuals and organizations. Think about what it can be used for from product launches to charities, live events, press releases, clarify misunderstandings, customer support, the possibilities are endless and are all gone way beyond the simple ‘blogging’ concept.

If there is one thing that hasn’t change that is honest communication. Especially if we look at blogs. Blogs are personal for nature. This means: no to ghost-blogging and no to any other kind of non-transparent communication practices.

“I understand that I’m sharing ‘for free’ with the entire world… so what’s the ROI?”

  • media: interest: clicks, mentions, views, (outputs…)
  • relationship: offline/online (important but harder to measure… through surveys, personal interviews, etc.)
  • results: business results (how many people came to your event, showed up and bought a product, etc.)

Stop doing dump mass marketing capitalism and start doing (also thanks to these new tools/channels) more intelligent engaging with a community that expressed interest in working with you.

Andrea

5 thoughts on “The Future of ‘Blogging’

  1. I liked your point about a lot of companies not knowing that they need a communications policy. I think that’s pretty typical of what I see.

    It’s like someone said to me the other day, “We have a great website but don’t do any PR”. A website IS PR !!

    I think part of the problem is that talking about communications doesn’t sound like talking about sales or doing business. Communications strategy doesn’t seem to have enough clout to it.

    Personally, I think it’s imperative to value communication. It’s getting harder to do business with the emergence of the global economy. Businesses need to know how to talk to customers, potential customers and even their own employees.

    Blogs (and social media) are great tools for developing conversations.

    • @Jon: Talking about business and communication you actually touch a very important point.

      Business and communication objectives are both necessary, strongly connected but not equal. In fact it’s extremely important not to confuse the two (if you want to succeed of course ;) ). Unfortunately for too many of the people sitting in the “we don’t need PR” audience this concept it’s often obscure and difficult to grasp.

      Thanks for your contribution Jon, always a pleasure to join the conversation with you.

      Andrea

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