Vancouver Ecademy: Blogging for Business

This is a talk I gave at the August 18th Vancouver Ecademy meeting. I was asked to give a brief, 10 minute talk about blogging, specifically how blogging relates/impacts/etc. business. Since many people in Ecademy are entrepreneurs and/or run businesses that tend to be smaller, I focused on small business aspects.

What is blogging?

  • I don't like the term: "personal publishing" -- a really easy way to put content online, using nothing more than a web browser
  • generally, it's a reverse chronological listing of short items of content (but it doesn't have to be -- it can be long)
  • each posting has a unique URL, also known as a permalink
  • an RSS feed -- means that people can be notified when you've put up new content, as opposed to having to manually go back to your page again and again
  • having an RSS feed also plugs you into a number of tools which are dedicated to searching content in "real time" (as opposed to Google, which only indexes things in the past/after they've happened)
  • explain PubSub, "searching the future" [BM: I didn't actually get around to explaining this, and I didn't spend much time talking about RSS or news aggregators in general – check out Bloglines as an online tool for reading RSS feeds]

Why run a business blog?

  1. increase your search ranking
    • search placement has the best ROI
    • I'm the #1 hit for "technology consulting vancouver"
  2. connect with your customers
    • provides a real voice and real connection to your business -- which just happens to be online
    • having conversations (comments, links to your posts, etc.) with many more people than you could ever have in person
  3. demonstrate yourself as a subject matter expert
    • posting about things that you know, whether original thoughts, expansions of other ideas, or even as rebuttals, will establish you as a voice of authority in your community of practice
    • speaking engagements, guest authorship

Tips

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  • post often
  • link to everyone, even your competitors (the web is built on linking)
  • credit your sources (they'll find you and will likely start to follow/link to your blog if you are in the same industry)
  • take commentary in stride
  • don't post only self-promotion -- this is your voice, you wouldn't do it in person either


Some questions that I thought people might have in mind, which I pre-emptively answered.

Who else is doing this?

  • Microsoft
  • Sun
Why would I want to give away valuable information?
  • parable of two consultants
  • open-ness wins
This is only for tech companies, right?
  • that's like saying the web is only for tech companies
  • search ranking alone -- if you can type in "woodworking vancouver" and have your site come up as the #1 hit, that's valuable
There were some good questions afterwards, none of which I wrote down, but in particular I remember one asking about corporate uses of blogging. My little talk was specifically limited to giving an overview of using blogging for primarily small businesses, but here are some brief thoughts.

Blogging/personal publishing has many uses in the corporate world. First, for public use, it is another communication channel, and so definitely needs to be considered as part of the marketing mix. Internal usage of these tools can be very successfull in promoting information sharing, whether it be used for research, marketing, competitive intelligence, or project management.

Some related articles that may be of interest:

Some blogging tools:

  • Blogger: owned by Google, free and easy way to try; permanent blogs should be hosted at your own domain, since you're branding you, not Google's domain
  • Wordpress: recommended by me as the best open source, individual blogging tool if you are comfortable installing on your own web space
  • Blogware: one of the companies I am associated with (Streamline) is a reseller of this system; I believe it's the best individual hosted tool, and you can try a 30-day free trial
  • Drupal: another open source tool that's perfect for running communities or corporate intranets; my new company Bryght (launches next week!) is basing our community content hosting on this system