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More on Social Media: Blog Basics--Part 1

By: Michael Bleau

Friday, October 01, 2010
 
Frequently, I’m asked just how ‘social’ manufacturing companies should become, to which I reply, as much as the market will bear. If there is value to what you have to say, then say it or someone else will take the lead from you. Corporations are getting into blogging and leveraging social media outlets. While still only a fraction of their media spend, the growth trend on blogs continues to be positive.

When well executed, this type of website enhancement can be used to educate consumers, create excitement about products and services with customers and grow your direct e-mail lists. They also can be used internally to communicate company news to employees.

Establishing a blog for your business is another means of pushing fresh content to prospects while building search-engine relevance for your company’s website. In the coming months, we’ll cover other social media options, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Types of Blogs

To borrow from Wikipedia, a weblog is a web application that contains periodic posts on a common webpage. These posts are often but not necessarily in reverse chronological order. Basically, if you publish written content on a periodic basis, a blogging software package simplifies your publishing workflow. There are a few variations to this, including podcasting (which has nothing to do with Apple Computer’s iPod products.) Podcast means playable on demand, where the author posts audio and/or video streams.

Video blogging, sometimes called v-logging or vidblogging, is simply a video webcast. A great example of a promotional vidblog, for the perfect blend of b2b and b2c customer targets, can be found at willitblend.com. Audio and video blogs are more advanced and require some additional software, skill and effort, but each offers subscribers options in terms of how they like to consume content. In either case, a written form of the blog is always recommended as a part of a search-engine optimization strategy. To learn more about being a search-engine-friendly blogger, Google “how to optimize your blog for search engines.”

Blog Hosting Options

A quick way to launch a blog is to use a hosted service. There are many hosted options that offer simple to use, customizable blog sites, including TypePad, Blogger and LiveJournal. You have the option to link to these from your company’s website and they typically offer a simple interface for posting content. Many allow you to customize the layout and masthead so that the blog can seamlessly look like a part of your website. Such services are managed for you, so you don’t have to deal with IT issues and you can start posting within minutes of signing up for an account. Many of these services are free, but some may charge a monthly fee. A risk with using some services is that they own the content you post, and should they elect to, they have the right to remove content or take down your blog.

If you maintain your own web server and want complete control of your blog installation, you’ll want to consider a self-hosted package. Some popular choices include Movable Type, WordPress (used by PMA) and Textpattern.

Next month we’ll dive deeper into blogging, covering content, frequency and promotion. MF

 


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