About 15 years ago, when the Internet first showed up at homes and businesses everywhere, websites and e-mail seemed like the best things imaginable that the Internet could contribute. Today, social networking is so huge that it’s leaving e-mail, regular blogging for business, and even regular business websites in its dust. From tiny business startups to independent consultants and mega-huge multinational corporations, businesses have adopted Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as the best way to stay in touch with their customers and with the world at large.
Still, the social media, for all their promise, can be particularly difficult for business to master. It’s difficult for them to find a way to make them pay in a tangible and measurable fashion. As many observers are beginning to notice, a new blended medium that they call social blogging may be the next stage in the evolution of regular blogging for business and social networking.
A social blog is a way to take short posts or microblogs and status updates – video links, short messages, pictures – and to communicate with those. In traditional blogging for business, the business blog sits there and expects users to come read. With social blogging, all blog updates are sent directly to followers of a business. Businesses typically use this method of communicating to stay in touch with an entire consumer base and to learn about their expectations of them and to rouse the base.
Consider the popular MyStarbucks website. When they first launched it two years ago, people thought it was going to fall flat. But the coffeehouse giant has proven itself remarkably in tune with the times. One of the website’s most popular ideas has been the one where they invite suggestions from website visitors for new menu items and ideas for store and package designs. While all of this is fairly regular stuff, they took it into social blogging territory when they brought out their Ideas in Action blog. Their plan was to take up ideas that fans of the website had made for changes they wish to see and show followers how the company was rolling with them.
Followers of Starbucks’ Twitter presence get a lot more than just information about discounts. They get information about things they would like to discuss and talk about – charity events, music events and so on. It’s something that cannot fail to get customers talking. Zappos uses Twitter to reach out to its customers with little one line blogs about interesting things they would like to know about.
Social blogging, unlike regular blogging for business, is all about bringing a blog to customers on their phones. To make that happen, it has to be really small and it has to be really regular. You could say social blogging is regular blogging, only one that tends to be very small because of the limitations of the medium. It’s a way of seeing blogging, and the social media not as two separate kinds of media but as one amorphous thing that includes everything.