Mention the word “blog” to people when explaining how they can utilize the Internet for their organization and you will often be greeted with immediate resistance. “Why would I want to do that?”, “I’m not that type of person.”, “What does that have to do with my business?” are common responses. Many people’s exposure to blogs has come through the media’s coverage of them with their explosion earlier this decade. Knowledge of blogs from a television news report on political blogging in 2004 does not cover the usefulness of blogging in 2009.
For some people blogging still has a connotation of political rhetoric and people describing every mundane detail of their day. It is seen as a personal hobby, like chat rooms, where people make connections on the web. The term blog, contraction of web log, is very generic. For me it is simply defined as an ongoing communication tool with your site visitors. It may be personal, on a specific topic, or for communication with customers and potential customers. Blogs are powerful because of the surrounding technologies. Feeds and subscriptions allow updates to be pushed to interested parties, creating a stronger connection between your site and its visitors. I use feed subscriptions to receive all kinds of information, from news and sports to notification of version updates on software. It has changed the way I consume information on the web and stay in contact with web sites.
If you are averse to the term blog, call it whatever you want. It can be called news, articles, essays, opinions or anything else you want. They key is producing content that matches your position. This may be updates on what you are doing, new products, statuses, opinion pieces or helpful articles. Blogs are to be written informally, providing a personal connection with the person on the other end which gives small organizations an advantage over large corporations. As much as I try to explain blogging (or creating new content regularly) I don’t think people really understand them until they spend some time on the subscription end. So get a feed reader and subscribe to some feeds on topics you like. Many people are afraid of the technology or information overload. Understand that you have the power to control the flow of information, just unsubscribe to feeds or skip over articles.
After you see first hand how pushing information through feeds changes the whole dynamic of the Internet and you are serious about wanting to blog, go read Merlin Mann’s article on what makes a good blog and listen to his series on CBC Radio’s Spark program on how to blog.