What is a Blog? - An Essential PR Tool (PART 2)

January 7th, 2008 | Categories: blogs, launch, marketing, networks, social media, strategy

MegaphonePerhaps one of the most obvious uses of a corporate blog is as a PR and brand-building tool. When a company wants to let the world know about an update, bug fix, or any material change, a blog is a great place to do so. I’m not advocating against press releases - I just think there is a time and place for them.

In my opinion, press releases should only be issued in a situation of substantial change - i.e. new launch, partnership agreement, or management change, for example. Small updates and changes do not merit such treatment. In addition, press releases usually lack two-way communication, a definite downfall.

Companies can also announce special achievements, milestones, and awards on their blog. Such events don’t usually precede a press release (in most cases). What about company outings and happenings? A blog may provide an outlet to the world, informing about the inner-workings of the external facing entity. This concept of “humanizing” the company is extremely effective when it comes to building trust and loyalty. Credit goes to Robert Scoble, formerly of Microsoft, for pioneering this notion. Customers and readers are introduced to “real people” in a ”real company”. This has traditionally been condemned, as companies prefer to amplify their profile rather than diminish it. But more and more we are finding that such a strategy isn’t always the most effective.

All in all, corporate blogs (as a PR tool) are a great way to increase exposure and raise profile in a given industry. For a small investment, a company could be introducing itself to new investors, new customers, or even a potential acquisitor. Thus, it seems like a small price to pay for such huge benefits.

Do you have any stories about blogs being used as a PR tool? Have you leveraged one as such? Let us hear your stories.

What is a Blog? - PART 1

January 3rd, 2008 | Categories: blogs, launch, marketing, networks, social media, trends

Instead of spewing out another assortment of posts, I thought I’d take a step back and really mull over the concept of a blog. What is it? What does it accomplish? Why do we take the time to publish them? To many, these answers seem obvious. But upon further inspection, I think that there is more to this concept than meets the eye.

A blog isn’t a one-dimensional tool. It has multiple uses (which I will explore in later posts). But for now, let’s take a look at the definition of a blog from some highly respectable and reliable sources. 

Wikipedia’s definition:

“A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.”

Dictionary.com’s definition:

“A website that displays in chronological order the postings by one or more individuals and usually has links to comments on specific postings.”

Merriam-Webster’s defintion:

“A Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.”

Interestingly,three different sources provide three separate views, especially the last one. Here are some key points to note:

  • The most traditional source (M-W) provides the most dated definition.
  • The concept of a ‘journal’ or ‘diary’ in real life does not provide entries in reverse chronological order.
  • A blog doesn’t necessarily have to have a comment section (ala Seth Godin). Some may argue this point.

All of sudden, what seemed like a clear definition becomes unclear. From my perspective, I think that Wikipedia’s definition, although somewhat vague, provides the most accurate and safe representation. A blog is essentially a “series of posts in reverse chronological order”. End of story. Whether the blog is personal, contains numerous authors, or has a comments section is irrelevant.

How would you define a blog? What do you think constitutes such an entity?

Note: In upcoming posts, we will explore the multiple uses of a blog, as well as the underlying motivation of bloggers.

NetFlix Shifts Focus From Offline to Online

January 3rd, 2008 | Categories: launch, marketing, networks, strategy, video

NetFlix logoToday, NetFlix announced the launch of a new service that will limit its dependence on physical mail. The company plans to partner with numerous electronic manufacturers in a new initiative that will send movies from the Internet to your TV. An initial partnership with LG will get the ball rolling later this year. The service will be offered in HD and may include a limitation on the number of movies viewed per month.

Currently, NetFlix offers over 6,000 movies and television shows online for free, but this new service will extend beyond the PC to the TV. The company does acknowledge a threat from the video-on-demand space, but believes that such a system is incapable of reaching its full potential without the power of the web.

The company has ambitions to become the preeminent movie channel on all Internet-connected devices, including gaming systems, wireless devices, DVD players, and set top boxes.

I can understand the benefits of such a system for both the consumer and the company. It saves time, hassle, and money. I’m just not convinced that consumers will be rushing out to buy a NetFlix-enabled device. Having said that, I do think this a step in the right direction. However, the company will need to partner with as many electronic manufacturers as possible to really make this work. Furthermore, NetFlix will need to establish itself as the name in the space, as everyone from Apple to Amazon is jockeying for position.

As a side note, this looks like yet another hit to Blockbuster. The old-school video rental company has taken a butt-kicking over the past few years. The introduction of ‘no late fees’ did provide a bit of light, but only for the short term. It may only be a matter of time before…

What do you think of this move? Is it worthwhile or worthless?

A Look Back at My Blogging Predictions for 2007

January 1st, 2008 | Categories: blogs, marketing, networks, off topic, social media, trends, widgets

In early January 2007, I made 5 blogging predictions for this year. They dealt with a variety of issues and topics from around the blogosphere. Let’s take a look at how I fared. But first, let’s review my predictions:

  1. Perception shift
  2. Bridging the gap
  3. Deeper niches
  4. More full-timers
  5. Increase in blogging tools

(For an in-depth look at each prediction, visit my initial post: Blogging Predictions for 2007.)

So here we go…

Perception shift - Hit - Regular people are starting to associate the concept of a “blog” with something other than a personal journal, i.e. news, analysis, gossip, etc… This shift will not only help in the proliferation of blogging, but also in the understanding the current environment.

Bridging the gap - Miss - I totally missed on this one. In fact, I believe that the gap between the A-listers and ‘the rest’ is increasing in size. After all, there can only be a select few that reign supreme.

Deeper niches - Hit - This one goes without saying. As the number of blogs increases, it is inherent that deeper niches will emerge. Expect this to continue.

More full-timers - Hit - As the mainstream begins to embrace blogs as another media source, career opportunities become real. An expert voice, a loyal following, a lucrative niche, and some targeted ads are a formula for success.

Increase in blogging tools - Hit - We are definitely seeing an increase in the number of blogging tools being created. Companies are providing a whole spectrum of solutions that deal with everything from feeds, to statistics, to search, and much more.

Wow… 4/5 ain’t bad, albeit my predictions were a bit safe. None were overly risky or outrageous. As for 2008, I’m not going to make a list of predictions. However, I can say one thing for sure. More and more companies will be embracing and implementing blogs as a way to reach out to customers and create stronger relationships…

Note: In light, of my last statement, I am going to insert a shameless plug. As of now, I am going to be focusing my consulting efforts specifically on blog consulting under the name Tagzoom. Services range from blog set-up, to blog design, to blog strategy consulting, and more. So, if you’re looking to set-up a blog or are in need of blog strategy consulting, be sure to let me know. Also, please pass this along to anyone else who may need a hand. For more info, visit the Tagzoom site. Thanks for your support.

10 Web Predictions for 2008

December 31st, 2007 | Categories: acquisitions, launch, networks, off topic, social media, strategy, trends, wikis

In light of all the recent prediction posts for 2008, I present to you my list:

1. Google misses an earnings estimate; the stock drops a couple hundred bucks a share in one day.

2. An increasing number of mainstream musicians drop their record labels and sell directly online.

3. The term “web 2.0″ is outlawed.

4. The “semantic web” and start-ups in the space continue to stumble.

5. Twitter is acquired.

6. Facebook continues to set the bar and dominate the social networking space.

7. Technorati continues to suck.

8. Open ID takes off; more sites embrace the standard.

9. Google launches a job site (or acquires one… SimplyHired? Indeed?).

10. Wikipedia gains widespread credibility and acceptance.

Bonus: 37signals is acquired (long shot).

What do you think will happen in 2008? Am I on target or way off?