BLOGS, FLOGS, PLOGS AND SLOGS
I can almost hear you say, "Oh, not blogs again". They seem to be everywhere. Time Magazine nominates us all, in other words You, as Person of the Year because of all the blogs and videos (think YouTube) that we are producing. There's even a suggestion that Blogs will become even bigger in 2007. It should be noted that Blogs started as personal journals maintained by individuals on the Web. That's still by far the most common type of Blog. However business blogging is becoming more popular.
This newsletter reviews Web logs used in business blogging. If you want to survive and be ahead of the competition, then business blogging will be in your future if it is not already in your present. This newsletter sets out the ways in which your business blogging effort can be most effectively applied.
The four words of the title are all types of business Web logs. In other words, these are logs or journals that are maintained on the World Wide Web, or Internet. They all contain a major text component: that is they are documents that we can read. If the last three are somewhat of a puzzle, then it may help to realize that F stands for False, P stands for Project and S stands for Site (short for website). We do not cover here Vlogs, which stands for Videoblogs. They are usually just a frame through which a Video can be viewed. A somewhat related entity is the Podcast, which is a vehicle by which audio sound files can be heard.
Each type of Web log will be reviewed but basically in 2006 we have seen mostly examples of Blogs and Flogs. In 2007 in addition to even more Blogs and hopefully no Flogs, you will perhaps see many more Slogs. There may also be many more Plogs but since they're private, you won't be seeing too many of them. Before getting into the details, we should examine some important factors that come into play with all Web logs.
TIME, THE CRITICAL DIMENSION
Time is one of the most important parameters for we human beings. Sometimes we are stressed by not having enough time to achieve important goals. At other times, we strive hard to arrange quality time with our loved ones. .. And as time rolls inexorably forward, we may think of our mortality and of all the things we have accomplished or neglected throughout the years.
Time is indeed a critical factor. With cash or human resources, we can always beg, borrow or rent additional resources to complete our projects. Each moment of time once past is gone forever. It cannot be relived nor re-used. Every moment should be used to the full. That is why we spend so much time thinking about time.
Time is not only a measure of the duration of some event. It also can be the point in time at which something is completed. The phrase 'Time is of the essence" is often found in legal documents. Blogging software, which is used to produce Web logs, ensures that every post or entry automatically has a date/time stamp recording the exact time at which it was produced. As we shall see for some types of Web log, this is a very useful feature.
OUR FASCINATION WITH NEWS
News programs abound to satisfy our almost insatiable appetite to know what is going on around the world. This is a major reason why web blogs have become so popular. People want to tell others what is happening around them. Eager audiences scan the Web to see what may be happening that they were unaware of.
One feature of blogs that caters to this thirst for news is their ability to produce news feeds. These can be considered as alerts that a news item has been added to that blog or news resource. Such news feeds can be scanned automatically by programmes that are called news aggregators. Two of the most popular of these are Bloglines and Google Reader. Usually once per hour such a news aggregator will check a long list of news feeds to highlight any that have added new items. This provides a great 'radar screen' on which to see what is happening of interest around the world.
Most readers already will be acquainted with the standard Web logs or Blogs. Many individuals enjoy telling the world about their views and what they see around them. Blogging software such as WordPress is very user-friendly and it's very easy to set up your own personal blog. Indeed some company CEOs were early to this and write their own personal journals. This might be described as Type P blogging for Personal blogging.
Blogging is a very effective way of communicating on the Internet so a large number of companies are using the same mechanism to communicate with the world. This might be described as Type B blogging or Business blogging. If marketing is seen as a dialogue with customers, then blogging provides a great vehicle for this. Some companies have had real problems with how this is best set up. Should there be corporate vetting of content? Who is allowed to blog? In fact not getting too uptight about it seems to be the best approach. For example, under the influence of one of the early Microsoft bloggers, Robert Scoble, Microsoft as a whole has become much better at communicating with its customers.
One company, which surprisingly has had a problem with allowing such open dialogue, is Google. The corporate culture has been to discuss key questions among themselves behind closed doors. The move to allow customers to be more involved seems to be taking some time. Nathan Weinberg has raised this question in an article entitled, Can Google Get More Bloggers In 2007? Clearly the genie of open communication which came 'out of the bottle' when blogging became popular will be difficult to put back in the bottle.
Since blogs have proved to be such effective ways of communicating, it is not surprising that some corporations have pondered whether they can be used to create favourable images for themselves. Perhaps by creating blogs apparently written by people in the street expressing favourable opinions on the company, this could create a positive spin on the corporate image. Such blogs could perhaps be used to fuel positive word of mouth or buzz marketing. Corporate blogs written so as to appear to be written by others are expressly against the code of ethics of the Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Association and have been labelled False Blogs or Flogs.
Some very noteworthy companies, such as Wal-Mart and Sony, did try the Flog approach. What the Flog creators had forgotten is that the Internet is one of the most transparent channels there is. The chance of not being found out is low. In both cases, Wal-mart and Sony were found out. The negative fallout was much greater than any positive benefit that might have resulted if anonymity had been preserved. One would hope that this use of the word Flog will rapidly disappear from our business vocabulary given its sorry performance.
If Flog is a word to forget, then Plog may well be a word worth remembering. This is not Plog as Amazon has apparently trademarked it to mean a Personal log. Rather it is a shorthand for Project Log.
Blogging software has a number of features that make it a simple yet powerful way in which a project team can communicate with one another. Just consider these characteristics:
- There can be multiple authors.
- Access can be restricted via passwords.
- Multiple, non-exclusive categories can be used to group all posts related to particular functions or phases of the project.
- News feeds can provide instantaneous alerts to team members when new posts are added.
- The automatic time stamping of pages provides a simple time-based documentation of the project.
These characteristics mean that Plogs can be used to create a very natural and user-friendly project management system. Their built-in timing process means they are much better than Wikis, which are another simple process that many companies are using internally.
Slogs are probably a type of Web log that is new to you. There has been an attempt to suggest a definition of such a Web log as you will find if you ask Google to define:slog. This is what you will find at the time of writing, although it may change at any time.
We have drawn a line through the Wikipedia entry there because that is not included in the current Wikipedia definition of Slog. Indeed it has not been there for at least 6 months. Perhaps prior to that someone was trying to promote Slog as the short-form for Social Log. It has a certain redundancy about it and it has not come into popular usage. So Slog seems to be clear for the moment and could be used to describe some other type of Web log.
We here propose that Slog be used as a short-form for Site Log or WebSite Log. Here it has much more potential. We'll explain by looking first at how corporations tend to use blogs at the moment. It is almost standard practice to have independent websites and blogs. For example let us look at Diesel Marketing, a premier marketing agency in Montreal, with some stellar clients such as Cirque du Soleil. They have very recently adopted a new name, Sid Lee, with an innovative website. They at the same time have introduced two associated blogs, Conversational Capital and the Sid Lee Collective. These three properties do interlink but each has its own look and feel although there are certain common features.
Launching three websites with different looks and feels may be appropriate for a company selling marketing services. They're fine vehicles to illustrate the company's versatility and creativity. However is that the right approach for a regular business.
A regular business is trying to sell a particular product or service to consumers or to other businesses. They're not in the business of creating interesting website experiences for their prospects or customers. For such a regular business, a single website can more clearly identify the company and also be the venue to catch up on latest developments. This is achieved by having a slice of the website produced by blogging software with date-stamped entries that can reflect the news the company is making. This slice is what we propose should be called a site log or a Slog. The definition of a Slog is as follows:
Such a section of the website is seamlessly integrated into the website architecture and appears as a natural part of the website. Access to it could be via a News tab or button in the website navigation menu.
The Slog is that part of the website that evolves through time. It's the reason for revisiting the website from time to time to see what's new. It should be a seamless part of the website so that there is no apparent difference in look or feel in being within the Slog or being elsewhere in the website.
In adding a Slog to a website the other advantage is that posts to a blog are much more visible to the search engines than a regular web page. A single post becomes part of a number of associated 'web pages', for example any of the relevant category pages or the archive page. Having a Slog as part of the website will make the whole website more visible to the search engines. More search engine visibility means more searchers who may be looking to purchase will find your website. More website traffic should translate into more sales.
Technically there are two ways of adding a Slog to become part of a website. A blog can be created using the same template as the regular web pages. This is the only way if the website exists already. If the total website is new, an alternative is to create the whole website within the blogging software. The most popular blogging software, WordPress, supports the creation of blog posts and of regular web pages, all using the same template.
In summary here are the advantages of having a Slog as part of a website:
- There is one single location to locate all information and latest news on the company.
- New blog posts to the Slog provide a reason for visitors to keep returning to the website.
- The associated news feed provides an instantaneous alert to customers when news items appear in the Slog.
- The Slog structure provides much increased search engine visibility thus increasing traffic to the website.
EXAMPLES OF WEBSITES WITH SLOGS
As yet, there are a limited number of websites that have been built with Slogs. Some examples are listed below. (If you have such a website and feel it would be of interest to others, please contact us with details and it may be added to the list at SMM's sole discretion.)
Websites that include Slogs
- Comtech Phones, a seller of business phones and phone systems.
- Day Trading Tutor, supporting day trading on Forex markets
- SEOmoz, Search Engine Optimization Resources
- Think Prospect, Web design services
If you are convinced that Internet marketing is important to the growth of your company, then undoubtedly you have or will soon have a website. Given the interest people have in knowing what is new and given how user-friendly blogging software is, you should also be thinking about a Web log of some kind. Hopefully Flogs are not something you would contemplate. As part of your Internet marketing program, you may be wondering whether a stand-alone Blog or a Slog will work better for you. It may take a little longer to set up a Slog rather than a Blog, but this is highly recommended. It will be one of the most effective ways of applying your Internet marketing efforts.
If you require help with this, then SMM will be happy to help you figure out your best approach. Our help can be configured to meet exactly the needs you have. Our strengths, experience and creativity can complement those of your company. So write us a Message today on what you're looking for without obligation.
Added to site 13 January 2007
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