How blogging works
Blogs use a simple layout to display stories in a long list, the most recent at the top. The stories are called posts. They add categories and topic tags to help users find stories of interest, and they provide easy ways for visitors to comment on posts and engage the blogger in conversation.
Blogging software – WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr are popular examples – makes the process of writing articles and posting them online very simple, a fact that has driven the huge growth of blogging. It puts control in the hands of the writer: No web designer is required.
The second powerful feature of blogs is that they provide plenty of easy-to-use tools for bloggers to share their stories with other bloggers and through social networks. Blogging, in fact, is the ‘granddaddy’ of social media.
Your social media strategy: Blogging and social networks
Blogging is one of the most effective social media marketing tools because at its best it is, well, social. A well-written blog can attract an influential following, and there’s a camaraderie among bloggers that makes it a great way to build a network.
A blog can serve as a hub for internet marketing activity in a way that other social media can’t. It’s a fairly big commitment but it will pay dividends.
When planning your overall social media marketing strategy, consider that:
- Blogs are best for content production
- Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are useful for content sharing
The boundaries aren’t fixed: both blogs and social networks produce and share content. But you’ll find this a useful way to think about how each social media can be best used.
Reasons to blog
Here are a few of the most important reasons to add blogging to your strategy:
- They allow for longer, more thoughtful posts than other social media like Facebook and Twitter. This can be important if you want to establish your own credentials and influence in a field.
- They’re on full public display where anyone can see them. A lot of activity on social networks happens in member-only areas.
- Search engines love them. They’re well-indexed by search engines and all the popular blog applications give bloggers easy ways to boost search engine rankings further.
- They make syndicating your stories easy. Syndicating means putting your stories, or snippets that link back to the full story on your blog, on other sites or through email or apps.
- For a small publisher or author, they can often do double-duty as your website.
- A publisher’s blog can provide a platform for its authors to tap into, for instance through guest blogging spots, or by linking to stories on authors’ blogs.
Reasons not to blog
When blogging works, it’s without a doubt the single best anchor to an online marketing strategy. But before you get too excited and jump in to start a blog, it’s worth also pointing out some of the reasons not to blog.
- It’s a very big commitment. Consistency is key to blogging success and it’s essential that you commit to a regular schedule. It doesn’t have to be daily but it needs to be regular and reasonably frequent, at least weekly in most cases.
- It can take a while for momentum to build behind your blog. To build an audience for your blog that’s big enough to make a difference to your marketing can take several months, and a year or two is not unusual.
- Some topics work better than others. In particular, it’s much easier for non-fiction than fiction authors, especially if you’re in a field where there’s demand for ‘how to’ information. There are successful blogs in most categories, but some are much easier and more likely to work.
One final point
This is a big point in their favour — blogs offer more control over your content, its ownership, and its use and re-use than other social media provide. This includes extensive control over how it’s presented and accessed, and your ability to make money from your efforts. And they allow export in standard formats that can be re-used in other websites and applications.
Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.