Business blogs are quickly becoming the “in” thing, at least as far as corporate communication is concerned. “Blog” is short hand for weblog or web log, which is an online public diary that is updated on a regular basis.

Some web logs are updated daily, while others see updates every few hours depending on the industry and who is running the blog.

Blogging For Business

The web log is usually updated with comments, announcements, recommended links and other informative content from the owner of the blog.

Blogging has been a popular method of communication among teenagers, geeks and other extroverts for many years. The typical blog style involves unedited, informal, first person entries that are posted in reverse chronological order.

Many bloggers do not consider any detail to be too insignificant to chronicle to a virtually worldwide audience. Many personal blogs are not afraid to get really personal for their readers, talking about what they ate, where they went, who they talked to, and other seemingly mundane tidbits of information that readers are more than willing to learn about.

The blogosphere, or the world of blogging has been expanding at a rapid pace however, and is now including professional journals that are web based and designed to allow companies to reach out to target audiences in a completely new way.

Now that entrepreneurs are developing a variety of creative new uses for business blogs and corporate blogs, the technology surrounding the blog concept seems poised to become the next big thing when it comes to communicating on a corporate level, not only with employees within the company, but also customers and competitors as well.

If you are doubting the move that blogging is making from an underground phenomenon into a true, bona fide trend, then consider the evolution of blogging and how personal blogs have already become truly powerful voices and methods of communication in media and politics.

Last year, for example, a couple of high profile bloggers blasted Senator Trent Lott for giving a speech that appeared to sanction the act of racial segregation, and the fallout and publicity were so powerful, they ultimately prompted Lott to resign from his position as the Senate majority leader. Meanwhile, high traffic blogs are maintained by comedians like Dave Barry and journalists like Jim Romenesko from the Poynter Institute.

Evangelists believe that business blogs, also sometimes known as bblogs, offer similar potential to any other industry. In a few years, it is believed that we will wonder how we ever lived without business blogs and corporate blogs, according to Jim Carroll, who is a successful author and consultant.

At a recent conference focusing on business blogs, Michael Gartenberg with the Jupiter Research company said that the single word of advice for Dustin Hoffman’s character in “The Graduate” would not be “plastics”, but rather would be “weblogs” in this day and age. Blogging is opportunity, according to John Lawlor, a B-blog consultant.

So why is there so much fervor surrounding business blogs and corporate blogs? Unlike corporate websites, business blogs are extremely cost effective to launch and quite surprisingly easy to maintain, because there are so many powerful and easy to use tools out there.

Unlike spam, junk e-mail and other forms of mass communication, corporate blogs are not intrusive, because they require visitors to get to them. When a corporate blog is done right, it provides a fast and informal way for information to be shared with a variety of different target audiences including partners within the company, customers and clients, and even other competing companies.

The information that can be shared includes project updates, test results, research, product releases, news, industry headlines and so much more, and this information can be shared both inside the company and outside of the company as well.

However, it is important to know that blogs can be deceptively tricky when it comes to management. If you do not manage your business blog correctly, you could end up embarrassing yourself, boring your customers, or even alienating them.

You may also accidentally contribute to the information overload, or may end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit if you do not exercise care and caution. Worse yet, you could potentially alienate the entire blogging community if you are not careful.

Take for example what happened when Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc. tried to enlist young volunteers to plug the Raging Cow beverage on their blogs, but the effort backfired when other bloggers called for a product boycott because they were upset over the word of mouth campaign which was clearly orchestrated.

Successful business blogging, just like any other marketing campaign or initiative, is going to require that you put together and follow a strategy.

You absolutely need to be able to answer the 5 W’s regarding your corporate blog, meaning:

  1. Who is going to blog? Who is the target audience?
  2. What are we blogging for? What benefits are expected? What needs to be said? Restricted?
  3. Where will the blogs appear?
  4. When will the blogs appear? When will results be seen?
  5. Why are we doing this?

The last question here is possibly the most vital, because it will help you determine exactly what your blog is intended to accomplish. Are you looking to demonstrate the expertise of your company, or perhaps your own expertise?

Are you looking to promote services or products, or provide customers with news, updates and announcements?

Are you looking to facilitate communication or build a community? Answer these and other questions will help keep you out of trouble because you will have a clear cut idea of what needs to be said and done, and how to accomplish it.

When these questions are answered, it will keep all of the blog writers in line, preventing the wrong steps from being taken to elevate your blog to popular status.