Blogging as a Marketing Stategy
A research paper made by the Matri-6 Group
Under the guidance of Ms. Salma Angkaya
BA 180.1 THX2, A.Y. 2008-2009
University of the Philippines, Diliman
This research paper is about the blogging technology. Definitions of blog and blogging are supplied in the first few sections of the paper. A brief history of the industry, both in the global and in the Philippine context, is also provided. There are many kinds of blogs that exist in the blogging community. However, the researchers focus only on the applications of blogging in the business industry. This is discussed on the main section of this paper labeled as Blogging in Business. This section is divided further into three subsections which discuss three main issues about blogging in business. The first subsection talks about how blogs are promoted so as to encourage more readers, the second focuses on how products and services are advertise on blogs so as to persuade more buyers, and the third discusses how businesses make use of blogs as their main marketing channels through the so-called ‘Corporate Blogs’ so as to take even greater advantage of the widening internet users’ circle, many of which are prospective customers and buyers. An assessment of the industry is provided after the main section. The researchers then conclude.
In the beginning, there were only fliers, posters, and TV ads. Companies and businesses scramble to get costumer attentions and keep business relations intact through visible marketing strategies. But that beginning, was years ago.
Originally, blogs or weblogs were referred to as online diaries. They were, for years, attached to personal properties and teenage fancies. However, as the Internet grew, the reason for excitement also did. It was a reason of exuberance for most people especially those who have technology running through their veins. The Internet, or specifically blogs, have been penetrated and have been utilize by many persona. And this does not exclude the business sector.
Background-wise, the blog was never thought to be a corporate thing –until now. These online journals are quickly developing its pace to catch up with the needs of the business community. It was unimaginable in the sense of the personality it projects but creativeness took over and nothing was doubted to be wrong.
Blogs are great tools for use in businesses. Whether used as corporate journals, bulletin boards, administrative tools, or sources of research, the blog’s versatility offers a number of functions which entrepreneurs should find appealing. Their informality and ease of use make them engaging to those who have discovered them. Their currency makes them another source of information as we seek answers. Their ability to spawn discussion from one blog to another make them excellent tools for hearing the different sides of the story and for encouraging participation in the discussion.
The phenomenon is now so widespread that there are several books on how to blog as well as a few that discuss how blogs are changing our culture. Clearly, the blog is a milestone in journalism and media history. Individuals and/or groups are empowered to publish their ideas at a very low cost.
II. DEFINITION AND DESCRIPTION OF BLOGGING
The word “blog” was derived from the fusion of two words, “web” and “log”. A blog is an online journal where the owner (blogger) can post entries in real-time (blogging), virtually to keep its public viewers updated. Taking the form of a diary, the latest entries are posted above the older ones. The blogger can post his entries in text, graphics, audio or video format or combinations of these. The most essential part is having a tool where the viewers can leave a comment to the blogger and the blogger in turn could reply to it. Blogs can be owned by only one person or by a group of people, for which there could be a number of contributors. Maintaining a blog is easy because the blog hosts that dominate the web today, whether free or paid, as Blogger and Blogsavy respectively, have automated the process of posting one’s entries unlike in the past, when long and tedious HTML editing was required. A format called the RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) revolutionized blogging. Using XML (Extensible Markup Language) code, the readers do not need to visit each site for them to stay updated of the blog contents.
There are different types of blogs existing today, as classified by the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies of the University of British Colombia. The most popular kind is Personal Blogs which serve to record the blogger’s personal life and random thoughts. Another is Political Blogs which include links to news articles and the blogger placing his opinions on current issues. These are sometimes used by politicians for their campaigns. Corporations also take advantage in blogs. Some of them have set up business blogs, sometimes called niche blogs, and hire writers to market their product. Other than documenting personal experiences, blogs can function as ‘discussion communities’. A mother blog might be the kind of Topical Blogs that revolve around a specific subject and suggests an idea to its subscribers. Under this, we have Health blogs that let people impart their views on certain health issues. It enables patients to receive comments from actual medical doctors. We have Literary Blogs which contain information on literature such as updates on published works and book reviews. For travelling enthusiasts, there are Travel Blogs where they can show how their trips came about through text, photos, and maps, to help and guide future travellers. Research Blogs, also known as K-logs (knowledge logs) are where scientists, professionals, or students share findings and developments about their field. Lawyers and law students make use of ‘Legal Blawgs’ to talk about matters and cases concerning the law. In the academe, there are Educational Blogs which aid students and teachers, keeping track of their classroom activities. There are no limits as to the number of categories of blogs. As developments in the blogging world continue to advance, there would surely be a lot of innovations in the utilization of blogs.
III. HISTORY OF BLOGGING
Blogging, in its early forms can be traced back to 1993, when it was invented by Dr. Glen Barry when he constructed his first political blog entitled ‘Gaia Forest Conservation Archives’. Blogging was then defined as web-based commentary. In January 1994, Justin Hall, a student of Swarthmore College pioneered personal blogging by making daily dated entries in his own Justin’s Home Page. This earned him the recognition as the first blogger. A blog was called ’online journal’ in 1996. In the following year, Userland Company released Radio Userland, one of the first blogging software tools. On December 17, 1997, the term ‘weblog’ was coined. Weblog came from a Web writer Jorn Barger who catalogued the Web' by posting links on his site RobotWisdom.com about articles that he took interest in. In October 1998, Open Diary was launched as the first blog community that enables readers to comment on writers’ entries. Due to the increasing number of webloggers, Cameron Barrett, in November 1998, published the first list of blog sites on Camworld. In the year 1999, Eatonweb Portal is launched, the first portal that listed known blogs. Brigitte Eaton, the creator of the said portal recognized a weblog as a site that consists of dated entries. In the same year, computer programmer Peter Merholz declared that he would pronounce weblog as ‘wee-blog‘ then split the word in his blog’s sidebar into ‘we blog’. Then on, the term ‘blog’ was accepted as a noun, being the online journal that we know of, and as a verb, describing the act of keeping a blog.
A blog hosting service named LiveJournal was launched in March of 1999. In July, Pitas.com was created to maintain a ‘news page’ on a web site. It is the first free build-your-own weblog tool. Blogger was born in the next month, with Pyra Labs ensuring a more user-friendly set of blogging tools. In September, Diaryland which is a personal diary community, started. By September of the new millennium 2000, bloggers began Topic-Oriented weblogs and other types of blogs. In February 2003, Blogger was purchased by Google. Right now, there are still many innovations in the blogging community, and the bloggers are watching as this world wide diary keeps on developing.
The Philippines’ Blogging History
In the local perspective, Filipinos also had milestones in discovering the potentials of blogging. It was quite amazing that the first and oldest blog was created in December 1996 by Lauren Dado when she was just 10 years old. On October 20, 2000, another child named Bikoy, who now is the renowned creator of Bikoy.net had his first online journal entry hosted at diary-x.com.
PinoyBlog, a blog community portal was launched on October 2002. Afterwards, Ploghost.com became the 1st local full service Filipino blog hosting in January 2003. Topical Blogs emerged in the country as well, and the first of which (started in February 2003) is houseonahill.net of Connie Veneracion. Her blog concentrated on the subject, food. In 2004, the print media also saw the advantage of using blogs and so inq7.net set up their blog, Talking Points, in October. The company’s rival, Manila Bulletin, followed in March 2005 with their Blog-O-Rama. In November 2004, i.PH which is a customized blog product and hosting service began with its blogging system Calliope.
To advocate and deepen the citizens’ understanding of blogging, the First Philippine Blogging Summit was held at UP Diliman, College of Law on May 7, 2005. To recognize and encourage Filipino bloggers, awards were also granted in the Philippines. Towards the end of 1999, Indayworks.com won People’s Choice Award under Family and Personals category of the 2nd Philippine Web Awards. And in 2003, the Philppine Blog Awards and Philippine WeBlog Awards were launched but the latter did not last long.
From Filter-Style to Journal-style Blogs
Indeed, blogs were seen to cater to different interests as people began to discover the promise of blogging. Actually, it started off as a record of one’s personal accounts. Blogs then, revolved around certain topics then afterwards, as a medium to air political insights. Also, blogs are now used as marketing strategy and for some, a source of living. Rebecca Blood, in her blog entitled ‘Weblogs: A History and Perspective’ describes the transformation of how people perceived blogs. She remarks that back then, almost all weblogs were Filter-style, meaning, weblogs only picked the most relevant and controversial ones which readers could critique on. But in the advent of the Blogger, blogs were more of a Journal-style weblog. It is in this age that bloggers see blogging as a process of unveiling their personal interests and taking a stand on societal issues. It is through blogging that one could ‘share his world’ to others and also build his confidence in writing.
IV. BLOGGING IN BUSINESS
Blogging is a good engine for efficient information dissemination. It can be a very good channel of awareness in the virtual world. It can help people become updated and involved in the society they are in. In a sense, blogging provides an imaginary connection between people who may have not even meet each other in the real world. Businesses take advantage of these facts by incorporating blogs as their marketing strategy. How this is made possible is discussed in the following subsections.
A. PROMOTING BLOGS
There are over 50 million blogs out there (Nicholas and MacArthur, 2009). This fact poses one problem to an average blogger: How will he promote his blog. The first thing the blogger must do is to know what people do the most when they surf the internet, and that is to use search engines. A search engine is a site in the internet where, by just typing a key word in the search box, links of web pages containing relevant information are displayed. By clicking these links, a person can visit the site where the needed information is contained.
The main search engines are Yahoo, Google, and Live. They collect information from websites using electronic programs called ‘robots’ or ‘spiders’. They find new sites and content generally by following links and then reading and indexing the code which creates the individual pages. This is stored in their servers so that when a search is submitted, the search engine filters through all the relevant pages in its index and ranks them in terms of relevancy using a mathematical algorithm. The result is what we see on the search engine results page (White). For an average blogger, ranking high in search engines is a pro. The higher a blogger ranks, the more likely his/her page is visited.
Search engines use over 100 criteria to rank websites, or web pages to be precise. It is significant to consider that some criteria are more valuable than others. Those considered particularly important include the text itself, the external inbound and internal links, focus, frequency, and relevancy of the information and some key on-page elements such as the Title tag (White). It is clear then that a blogger should comply with these criteria if he/she wants to rank high in search engines. However, almost all blogs contain the said criteria; so it is best to make information in the blog relevant and worth reading.
Nicholas and MacArthur, in their book ‘Blogging for Marketing 101’, shared some tips on how to get your blog stand out of the woodwork and get noticed. These tips apply to all blogs especially business blogs. These are: 1. Get Involved. The best way to get a blog viewed and subscribed to is to join a community. Bloggers can go to other people’s blogs, comment and link back to their own blog. These are just some ways to get involve. 2. Choose Frequency. Bloggers should make sure that all their entries are up-to-date. The more they update, the more frequently internet users will visit their blogs. But bloggers should be careful not to prioritize frequency over the blog’s quality. 3. Select Topics. The blog topics must be consistent with the audience and what they want. The bloggers should choose topics that are appealing to the readers. 4. Sharing is Caring. Bloggers should encourage their readers to spread the word. Adding the ‘Most Popular Blog’ and the ‘Email This Post’ buttons at the bottom of each post is a good way of promoting a blog. 5. Personalize it. The bloggers should include a little background of themselves, where they came from and their experiences. This adds to their credibility. 6. Promote, Promote, Promote. Another way to promote a blog is to make friends with other bloggers. The best way to do this is to find the top blogs, contact its authors, establish good relations with them, and write about each of them. 7. Easy Reading. The blogger must be concerned with the comfort of their readers. The fonts should not be small because the viewers might find it hard to read it. Installing a language translator in the blogs is a good way to capture an even larger circle of readers. 8. Attract Comments. The readers should be allowed to comment on the posts of the bloggers. This is beneficial for the blogger and for the other readers as it allows them to see other people’s view of the topics discussed.
These tips not only help the bloggers encourage many readers; these are also helpful in gaining higher rank in search engines.
Mark White in ‘Marketing with Blogs’ talked about the concept of spreading ‘welcome mats’ around the internet. ‘Welcome mats’ come in many different shapes and forms but are essentially places in the web where you invite people back to your website or blog by introducing yourself and making contact with them. It’s like a ‘doorway’ back to your site. Examples of these ‘welcome mats’ are: bookmarking articles on Social bookmarking and Crowd Sourcing sites, reference to your post from a Twitter message, blog comments you leave where your name link back to your blog, articles posted with a link in the signature file, links coming from other websites or blogs, and a lot more. In each of these cases, you are creating a ‘welcome mat’- something which provides information about you and your business, and then extends both an invitation and the means to find out more about you, via a link back to your site. Jeremy Wright in his book ‘Blog Marketing’ stressed that, “Marketing is all about visibility- making the right people aware of the right product at the right time... Marketing isn’t about individual customers. Often, it’s about creating a global message to which individual customers will respond.”
When you promote your blog, be sure that people will read what you wrote, and will have something to say about it. What makes a successful blog? According to Mark White, “A successful blog is one which fulfils the purpose and achieves the results that it was created for”. Indeed Mark White is right. What is a very well marketed blog when it only disappoints its readers once they read its content? It is best for a blogger to focus more on the content than the popularity of his/her blog. Your blog will gain its popularity in the long run once people have discovered the significance of its content. Its quality will market itself.
B. ADVERTISING IN BLOGS
One of the most popular schemes to earn money through blogging includes advertising techniques. This is also by far the simplest way to generate income effortlessly. Some of the techniques include participating in AdSense, and also finding independent advertisers.
AdSense is program presented by Google wherein advertisements are posted in blogs and the blogger gets compensated every time a user clicks the advertisements. This program is mainly popular for bloggers who prefer making income from the advertisements in their blogs. AdSense is also easy to use and very accessible to bloggers. In this kind of method, you are able to do something you truly enjoy while making income at the same time.
To be able to produce income from advertisements through Google’s AdSense, the blogger should create a blog and submit the website address of the blog as well as other pertinent information to apply for joining AdSense. Once Google approved the application, the blogger is provided a code which they can just copy and paste on his blog. Google will give suitable ads whenever a blog is visited. As much as possible, advertisements should be closely related to the content of the blog. For example, a sports ad is posted in a blog which is devoted to sports likewise a clothes advertisement is placed on a fashion blog.
The owner of the blog does have the power of which type of ads that may appear in their blogs. A blogger may or may not allow certain ads like adult materials being shown in their sites because Google will eventually filter them. Adsense is so far the most popular and widely used advertising technique among bloggers.
B.2. Independent Advertisements Aside from AdSense, one of the most conventional ways of advertising is finding independent advertisers. Though this is more complicated than AdSense, money-wise it is proven to be more advantageous in the bloggers part. Working with Independent Advertisers is quite similar with magazine advertising. You need a target market of advertisers to advertise on your blog depending on the substance of your blog. If your blog is all about traveling you will look for advertisers related to that field or if your blog talks about photography, you will try to find camera advertisers. In this case, blog readers will be persuaded to buy the advertiser’s products. The advertisers pay for the space they used in anticipation that their product or services will be bought by the readers after noticing the advertisements.
Finding an advertiser is the tough part of this method because, only few are eager to lease in someone’s blog. An advertiser has a lot of things to consider before concluding an agreement with the owner of the blog. One of these is the sum of traffic received by the blog. The traffic in a blog is the measure of how many users or readers visit the blog. Advertisers will favor blogs which has a high traffic rate because there is a high probability that someone will be interested in their product which is feasible with their business.
Aside from the traffic, advertisers also look in a blog’s substance. They will observe if the blog caters to their target customers. Focus is also an important feature advertisers look for in a blog. Bloggers should update their blogs frequently and blog interesting topics in order to entice more readers to visit their blogs.
To participate in this practice, the blogger must at least establish a “high traffic rate” in his blog so that he will easily get noticed by advertisers. In order to have a high traffic rate in your blog, you should do some promotional strategies so readers will be interested in your site. If you know that your blog is competent enough, then you are ready to file an application letter to your prospect advertiser.
The payment method of independent advertising is better compared to AdSense because it exhibits higher profit. Usually, some advertisers pay a fixed amount every month to the blogger depending on their contract. This way, blog owners enjoys having more income and greater publicity for their blogs.
Bloggers make use of their blogs wisely especially for advertising are rewarded well. With just an internet connection and an unwavering passion in updating your blogs, you could be the next big thing in this blogging business.
B.3. the Pros and the Cons of Advertising in Blogs
True enough, there are a lot of advantages in this kind of gamble. Aside from its accessibility it is also very easy to learn. According to problogger.com among the top 30 highly visited blogs, all 30 of them have an income stream and only one blog had no advertising programs. Problogger.com also cited that “the most popular Income Stream on these blogs is BlogAds because 23 out of the 30 blogs have them. Some of the most popular blogs are already earning $13000 a month for fixed contracts and $500 for a classified position.
A lot of people turn into this marketing strategy because you can let it on its own. You need not to be online 24/7 just to earn income. Another thing which is highly feasible with this method is you won’t suffer any great losses. Your only capital for this kind of business is computer and an internet connection. Maybe the only loss in advertising is your time and effort. But probably, you won’t be realizing any of these as long as you love and enjoy what you’re doing.
Advertisements in blogs are also growing and increasing its competitiveness which is favorable to the bloggers. This marketing strategy is mutually beneficial to advertisers and bloggers because both of them are well compensated. This is the best time to promote how powerful and advantageous cyberspace specifically blogging is to everyone.
Basically, not everything in this tactic is feasible. There are some cons which prevent some bloggers in trying this scheme and some advertisers to go online.
Probably, a lot of bloggers get intimidated with the thought of “advertising” so they never pursue this anymore. A lot of bloggers thought that this kind of marketing is only for professional but actually a lot of bloggers who goes into the business are amateurs and first timers.
According to some comments from problogger.com “Blogs are sticky and that’s a fact. People read them everyday but it only takes them a minute at most on the average” which means that not all visitors actually ‘read’ blogs because some of them merely browse on your site and ignoring most of the advertisements.
Some readers are also hesitant to click on some of the advertisements because of fear of Trojan horses and worms which could harm their computers. With this kind of mentality, both the blogger and the advertiser will be worse off because the advertiser won’t be getting any customers and likewise, the blogger will gain a reputation that his blog might contain malicious programs that might have virus.
C. CORPORATE BLOGGING
A corporate weblog or blog is an online page where a small business or a corporation can post descriptions, commentaries, news, and updates about its products and services. It’s a website with Feedback Value that gives the clients free will to inquire and comment to the entity where they purchased a product or received a service.
There are many different types of corporate blogs, but these can be narrowed down to as either external or internal. An external corporate blog is a publicly available weblog where company officers, employees, and teams can share their views. It’s often used to broadcast new products and services, the ending of old product. It is also used to explain and clarify company rules and policies, and to react on public criticism on certain issues that involved the company and its clients. It is a window to the company’s culture and is treated as an informal public relation tool. On the contrary, an internal corporate blog is normally accessible only within a company in which only company officers or employees can view. Its main purpose is for employee participation, discussion of company issues, collective brainstorming, and update-to-date negotiations among the various sections of the company. It can also be helpful during meetings and e-mail planning in the company, especially when the people involved have conflicting schedules or are in different locations.
Currently, small businesses and corporations are taking on both internal and external blogs as major lines of communication. Of the 55% of corporations that have adopted blogs, 91.4% use blog for internal employee communications, and 96.6% for external discourse. Of the respondents to internal corporate blogging, 63% say knowledge sharing its key advantage; 33% says blogs are utilized for project management; 23% for sharing personal knowledge management; another 23% for event logging; and 20% for team management. On another side, of the external corporate blogging respondents, 61% use public blogs for personal relations and marketing; another 61% for thought leadership; over 30% say for their CEO; and 35% use blogs for regular customer and partner communications.
The 15 Most Popular Corporate Blogs on May 2008 in thenewpr.com’s list are Google, Adobe, Flickr, Facebook, Yahoo! Search, Dell, Digg, LinkedIn, Ask, General Motors, Yahoo!, Delta, Kodak, Monster and Boeing. In a critique written by Dave Rosenburg, he shows a tabular presentation of results based on the survey conducted by emarketer.com. The table shows that blogging has already surpassed e-mail as the most popular form of both personal and professional communication. In Asia, particularly among MSN users, blogging has been labeled as a globally major social phenomenon. During the first half of 2006, a market research indicated that 34% of large companies had established weblogs. ‘Blogging in the Enterprise’, a study conducted by GuideWireGroup for iUpload, says that 89 percent of companies currently blog or plan to start blogging in the near future. In sum, corporate blogging is continually growing as an effective way to communicate with potential and existing clients, on what is going on with a business.
C.1. Corporate Blogging in the Philippines
According to an article in the Phillippine Daily Inquirer last April 11 2008, the Philippines is still infant when it comes to corporate blogging. But with the advent of social networking sites, many businesses are using the internet to promote their business ventures. These social networking sites all have the blog feature. One particular example is Multiply.com. This website is currently one of the world's most user-friendly social networking sites which allows users to connect and share media files such as photos, music, videos and blogs with so much ease. It basically allows a user to make his/her your personal website. What’s even more interesting is that it allows potential sellers to make their Multiply account as their very own business website for free. With Multiply, sellers and entrepreneurs of small business like clothes, accessories, food, and gadgets, can already promote their products and services by customizing their accounts, posting their products through uploading pictures in different albums, and posting timely blog entries to publicize their product descriptions and updates. These blog entries are easily posted to the accounts of all the people in the sellers’ network. It also allows the clients and potential customers to ask their questions and post their comments on the seller’s photo albums and main site. In fact, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, through its subsidiary ABS-CBN Global Ltd., has bought a five percent stake in the US-based social networking site Multiply.com to have a better promotion and advertisement to its mobiles services and for-sale items. This goes to show how Multiply.com is continually gaining its popularity because of its blogging application and easy-to-use features.
C.2. the Pros and the Cons of Corporate Blogging Corporate blogging has gained a great deal of utilization and respect for the past few years. According to a research, 12% of the Fortune 500 businesses (that includes Amazon.com, Boeing, American Express, Cisco Systems, Coca Cola, eBay, Ford Motor Company, Intel Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Starbucks, Wal-Mart Stores, many more other) are blogging. Indeed, its use has benefited many different corporations including major browsers like Google, Yahoo!, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer 7.
So what are these benefits of corporate blogging that businesses and corporations enjoy? According to an article by Bobby McDonald and Jake Potter, there are five key benefits of starting a corporate blog. First is that a corporate blog promotes transparency. As from what was already mentioned, a corporate blog is an efficient way to disseminate important and timely information to the visitors, customers, or other audiences about a company, before that information is sent out by someone else. This allows companies to have more transparency with the members of their market.
Secondly, a corporate blog puts a human voice to a company’s name. Good corporate blogs use a friendly, personal voice, with bite-sized text, pictures, and links that make an interesting package for the company. These additional links would also help in taking visitors to appropriate web pages on the company's site, and also to other web sites that support the primary business purpose. This, in return, would gain the trust from the potential customers, hence gaining more respect for the company’s name.
Third, a corporate blog starts a conversation with industry, clients and potential customers. It provides product-supporting information to clients and prospective customers without a lot of sales messages. It can also function as a brochure, sharing the features and benefits of a product or service, but in a more personal and sincere way of addressing the clients. Good corporate blogs could effectively use moderated comments to allow the clients to post their feedbacks and comments in return, hence providing credible, non-solicited support from them. Through this, companies are able to network with others in their industry as well, which can lead not only to connections, but also back links leading to targeted traffic and greater exposure. This explains the fourth benefit that is a corporate blog will drive traffic to a company’s Web site.
And lastly, a corporate blog’s results are measurable. Having quantifiable results would help a company’s operations. A well-optimized blog, with measurement tools, would help the company evolve in other fields such as advertising and public relations, and adapt new strategies for improving and refining data on who views the site and why the site is being viewed.
Like Google Inc., it has already organized an internal blog for its employees shortly following Blogger service it has acquired in early 2003, after seeing tremendous benefits from it. As what the Blogger product manager at Google, Jason Goldman said, “We have seen a lot of different uses of blogs within the firewall: people keeping track of meeting notes, people sharing diagnostics information, people sharing snippets of code, as well as more personal uses, like letting co-workers know what they're thinking about and what they're up to. It really helps grow the intranet and the internal base of documents.”
But despite the drive to create and maintain good status of corporate blogs, many barriers still exist. Some concerns are maintenance of enthusiasm for the blog project, technological problems, establishment of fair editorial policy, dealing with inappropriate comments, and enlisting management support. Some corporate blogs provide impersonal sales-only content to support the current website. Some use these blogs only to give an unreliable link from one site to the main site as a way to build up a network of links. In most cases, the content on these blogs is exactly the same as the contents on the main website, since timely and relevant information are not being updated in the site.
Another problem is that not everyone is in favour of blogging. A blog can be ineffective depending on the company’s audience. It can actually spoil the company if done incorrectly. If a company’s aim is to make money alone, then it would be less possible for the company to succeed. So what must be done? A corporate blog should also have some clear business objectives to be truly able to connect with the customers and get positive feedback. Companies must also take into consideration of writing and updating their blogs. Poorly written corporate blogs with inappropriate content can look bogus, thus revealing the companies’ incompetence. Control of the blog should also be managed very carefully, since the blog must reflect only the values and objectives of the company, not the personal opinion of the writer. The company must also be careful of not giving out too much information. Lastly, in the case of the users, they must not be overly reliant on the blog as the only source of all the needed information about a company and its products or services. Blogs are just one of the many channels where they can base their purchasing decisions.
V. ASSESSMENT OF THE INDUSTRY
In a recent survey by the Nielsen Group, it came out that about 30% of Filipinos use the Internet regularly. That translates to about 28 million Filipinos, 5% of which access the Internet everyday. These results only show that Internet connectivity is no longer a hurdle for most Filipinos. And with this progress in accessibility, the cyber community has become more open to corporate intrusion. The advent of Internet marked another milestone not only in the technology industry but also for the corporate world. Presently, companies use online mailing and website posting for keeping in touch with their costumers. But with the sudden sensation about blogging, companies all over the world have come to use this medium of information dissemination to deal with marketability. Blog Herald, a survey group in the United States, revealed that there are around a hundred (100) million bloggers worldwide and about 75 000 of them are Filipinos. The number is pretty astonishing especially for a developing country like the Philippines. In the Philippines, Benito Vergara, founder and managing director of Mad Crowd Media (MCM), said that there are interests these days for companies to explore the channel [blogging]. "While marketers are getting more sophisticated, and the profit-motives are more defined, the dipstick will tell you that the first adopters are very happy with results and only time will tell when others will come around. The key here is unlocking each advertiser's set of opportunities in permission and influencer marketing (and not merely awareness), and understanding how this develops into value that other channels cannot deliver, or do not deliver as elegantly and efficiently as the web can."
Over the years, blogging has transformed from a popular teen past time to a corporate requirement. Clearly, a corporate blog site is important to give the costumers a more personal view of the company. The list of the companies dabbling in enterprise blogs is growing. However, not everyone is in favour of enterprise blogging particularly in the Philippines. This part aims to highlight as many drawbacks of blogging in enterprises as possible to illustrate their point of view.
There has been a minimal reported case of workers warned or fired because of something they posted on the company's blog but in the United States, a survey by Proofpoint showed that over 57 percent of executives at 332 large companies said they were concerned about blogs as a source of trouble for their companies. Although the balance between free speech and an employer’s rights is still up for grabs, generally, an “at-will employee” can be let go at-will as long as anti-discrimination laws are not violated. Another important point is that it is tricky [really tricky] and hard to drag a public comment out of a company without routing first into the press' office. The worst thing about this is when the public comment is an ill-judges comment. There is a high risk that these kinds of comments are seized by the media or the disgruntled investors. This posits disadvantages to the company as it results to a poor investment outlook. Many companies, not only in the Philippines are still hesitant of putting up commercial blogs because of the issue of security and confidentiality. Even if senior managers trust staff not to give away the company's commercial secrets – many don't. There are still enough worries about libel and stock market disclosure. On the competitive edge, there are plenty of areas in business where people are judged on their knowledge. And thus, the significance of a single good idea may forever be in threat because of weblogs.
Like practically everything else on the Web, corporate blogs are easy to start and hard to maintain. So, far from blogs being a cheap strategy, they are a very expensive one, in that they eat up time. As a result, many blogs are not updated, thus damaging rather than enhancing the reputation of the organization. And lastly, Blogs can sometimes make many organizations look like disorganizations, with multiple tones and opinions. Contrary to what some might think, the average customer prefers it if the organization they are about to purchase from is at least somewhat coherent.
As what most can see, corporate blogging is not a bad thing after all. To jeopardize the company's status is not its prime motive. To shed light, the succeeding paragraphs list all the beneficial points of blogging so that one may know that it's worth it.
Leaders can communicate directly with customers, suppliers and investors, as well as employees, helping disseminate and explain strategy. A business blog can be written in one of numerous styles. One huge benefit is the ability to inform your customers of any changes, new products, latest offers and much more. This, in turn, can lead to direct sales. Typically, companies have used newsletter and e-newsletters to offer this kind of regular contact with their customers and potential customers. Using a blog is easier and it can be updated more regularly compared to offering a weekly or monthly newsletter.
Business blogs also give the company an opportunity to answer critics in a controlled forum. People are far more likely to give great feedback if they know someone specific is listening. The power of these feedback loops can generate big benefits. Sharing their ideas freely in an honest voice brings the blogging companies new connections and generates trust which will lead to business opportunities galore. Compared with conference or printed memos to all staff, enterprise blogs are highly cost effective. To integrate a blog into the page of your site costs little, especially since someone within your organization can usually do it. Even outsourcing the task will cost only a couple of thousand pesos. A blog could become one of the most powerful marketing weapons a company has in its arsenal and the money it spend might just pay a salesperson for one day’s work.
It also boosts the company’s search engine rankings if the employees add fresh content on a regular basis. Search engine optimization is a particularly beneficial form of online marketing. It can be used to gain search engine traffic for given keywords or search terms. Your blog offers the opportunity to promote your Web site for hundreds or even thousands of different keywords. Search engines particularly like promoting blogs because they offer a large amount of content that is updated on a regular basis. Another benefit of a corporate blog is that your company will appear to be more accessible especially if you allow freedom for all your visitors to post comments. Accessibility is often a stumbling block for many potential customers that still prefer to deal with companies offline. A blog makes you more approachable and so alleviates this concern. The more a customer hears the name of your company the greater the chance of remembering it. It takes, on average, around seven items of direct communication between you and your customers to make a sale. A blog with hundreds of posts gives you the opportunity to mention your company name and ensure that your readers think of you next time they're looking for a particular product or service. Blogs also mark your company as authentic and forward looking. If updated consistently, costumers establish you as a thought leader in the industry niche.
In the past, as stated in the History section of this paper, most blogs are about personal issues. Nowadays, there are many blogs that talk about many other things ranging from personal experiences, to product commentaries, to research and development matters, to political issues, and to many more. This just shows that many people use this technology for different purposes. As the number of internet users grows, the number of bloggers and the readers of the blogs rise with it. Many companies find it profitable to develop blog hosting services that provides different blogging tools that are easy to use. The market for blog hosting services becomes competitive as many companies join this venture. This competitive characteristic of the market encourages advancements in the technology of blogging. Thus, the rise in the number of people using blogs cause companies to improve the technology even more, these developments then invite even more people to use blogs, and so the cycle carries on. This provides the reason for the continuous development of blogging.
In this paper, the utilization of the blogging technology in the business arena is discussed. Using blogs to market products and services is not a simple thing. To take advantage of this strategy, the businesses should find out how it works. The companies that are interested in using this tactic should not only know how to create a blog. They should also know how to maintain it and how to invite many people to view it. If they do not want to experience the difficulty of promoting and maintaining their blogs, they may choose to engage in other competitive strategies like the alliance strategy. They can do so by making allies with people or other companies who have more experience in blogging and are able to capture a big number of viewers. These things are covered briefly in the Blogging in Business section of this paper.
The statistics provided in this paper stands as proofs that many companies are using blogs as one of their marketing strategies. This strategy offers many advantages to the companies. The greatest of which is that blogging is less costly than any other marketing tactics. The companies incur small costs but are still able to capture a big market for their products and services. These benefits, however, come with disadvantages. The benefits and the costs of using blogs in advertising were discussed in the paper and were weighed in the preceding section.
The companies should decide for themselves whether or not to incorporate blogging in their business. The assessment provided in this paper might guide them in their decision-making but to see the real benefits and costs of this strategy, the companies should give it a try. There are still many companies that are afraid to take up the challenge of running their own blog, especially in the Philippines. Corporate Blogging may not just be the thing for the time being. But, as we have seen, there is a great potential for the blogging technology to emerge as one of the most effective marketing strategy a company may use.
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