The first blogs also represented what I think of as a 1:n style of communication, with a single author putting posts out for the world to read. This has changed somewhat over the years as comments and ratings were introduced, with more scope for the audience to respond to the author, but blogs still seem much less collaborative than something like a wiki. They’re more of a communication tool.
As I see it, businesses can benefit from blogs in three main areas: branding, marketing/connecting with customers, and sharing knowledge internally. As with any time we bring up categories like this, there’s no particular order and there are overlaps – especially between the first two areas. I’d like to give my thoughts on each one before talking a little bit about businesses’ use of blogging alongside other social media.
Blogging is a great opportunity to present a human voice behind the business. People (myself, at least) can be cynical about ‘we care’-type marketing that tries to make us feel like we’re friends with a corporation. A blog, on the other hand, has more potential for two-way communication. If commenting is encouraged, and comments are responded to, a blog can go a long way towards making the business seem less faceless.
If a business manages its blog well, I think there’s a lot of potential to generate goodwill among the readers. This goodwill comes in handy when something goes wrong – if a trusted voice from within the company responds sincerely to a PR nightmare, customers will be more likely to forgive.
Marketing/connecting with customers
Blogs can be useful marketing tools as well, serving as a low-cost way to grab people’s attention and promote the company. As I mentioned before, there’s a big overlap with the branding; any promotional material is associated with the brand, so voice, passion and so on are still important. The difference in my mind comes from
Internal knowledge sharing
Blogs from different departments and subject matter experts can be useful for sharing knowledge within a business. Posts that focus on areas such as HR
Other Social Media
Promote blog on other social media that might not support longer posts, eg to Facebook and Twitter followers