What exactly is a blog? Every year around 30,000 people type that very question into Google. No doubt millions of other people ask the same question mentally, but aren’t that bothered to find out. Yet for businesses it’s an important question they rarely seem to answer.
Defining what you mean by a blog is essential for its success. For instance is your blog merely a soapbox where you vent your spleen? Or is your blog a means of spreading news? Alternatively, is your blog an establishment of authority? In other words, the answer to what exactly is a blog rather depends upon your strategy; and few businesses appear to have a blogging strategy in place.
Ask most businesses “why have you got a blog?” and the answer will be something like “well everyone has one these days” or “you have to have one, don’t you?”. Clearly, that’s not the best place to start. A blog without a strategy is like developing a product that you have no idea as to who would use it or why.
Let’s get the definition out of the way first. What exactly is a blog? It’s a web page. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be opinion, it doesn’t have to be personalised, it doesn’t even have to be produced by blogging software. However, the defining feature of a blog is that it is something that is regularly updated. In other words, a blog is not static, but continues to grow and develop.
More importantly, though, is your blog’s purpose. What exactly is a blog’s reason for being? That’s a much more important question to answer. Is your blog a means of providing news about your business? Is it a column providing opinion and thought leadership? Or, is your blog a means of selling products and services?
Here are six strategic uses of blogs:
- Establish authority – the “guru” blog
- Provide advice – the “helper” blog
- Review products and services – the “critic” blog
- Give news and information – the “reporter” blog
- Analyse situations or issues – the “evaluator” blog
- Sell, sell, sell – the “trader” blog
You need to define what kind of blog you want to have. Do you want, for instance, to be a helper or a reporter? or should you be an evaluator or a critic? By determining your blog’s reason for being it will always focus your mind when writing. And when you do that, it will help your readers subconsciously understand your blog’s purpose – and that will help engage them even more.
Far too many blogs mix their purposes – one day being a reporter, the next being a critic and later in the week being a trader. That merely confuses the readers. Think of it this way. One day your local newspaper reports what is going on in your region – the reporter role. The next day the newspaper changes strategy and decides it is merely going to sell, sell, sell it’s various services – it becomes a brochure. The day after that, the newspaper doesn’t report any news, but merely acts as a review of all the local entertainment facilities – it’s become a magazine. Guess what – you would give up buying it because from one day to the next you would have no idea as to what this publication is all about.
It’s the same with blogs; establish what your blog is for and it makes it so much easier for your readers to understand your purpose. And that helps loyalty.
But what do you do if you have more than one purpose? Let’s say you want to be a guru and an evaluator? Easy – have two blogs. Separate the functions into different blogs to make it easier for your readers to know where to go.
So, to answer the question, “what is a blog?”. Well, it all depends; it depends upon what you want it to be. But you must want it to be something, rather than just being anything.