He cites Forrester's recent policy decision to require its analysts to blog at Forrester.com, which seems like the wrong path to take but, given the recent exodus of a number of analysts - Charlene Li, Jeremiah Owyang to name two of the more prominent - perhaps they're skittish about allowing analysts to build up too much of a personal brand at the expense of the corporate. (But, that's a topic for another post, one that I do plan to address.)
Back to the question at hand, is there a right or wrong way to blog? And, what makes a blog a blog anyway?
I can think of a number of wrong approaches to blogging - simply using a blog to repost press releases, for example. Ghost-blogging for another. Not a big fan of that.
Aside from those rather obvious fails, here are some ways to make sure you get blogging right:
Make it personal
I've always believed that what makes a blog a blog has less to do with the technology and more to do with the personality. In other words, I believe what makes a blog a blog is the person writing it.
Most Web content management systems have components built into them that used to be the sole purview of blogs; things like commenting, social bookmarking via Digg, Stumbleupon, or Reddit, and social sharing via Facebook and Twitter are what I'm talking about. That's more or less commonplace nowadays.
Regardless of the platform, what sets blogging apart (to me at least) is that it gives the author a bully pulpit from which to inform, instruct, inspire or incite. Not only that, the reader gets to know the person behind the blog even to the point of forming a relationship with them, albeit virtual.
Someone once said that a blog is "like an ongoing tour with a guide you get to know." I believe that's true. A blog is an ideal place for the writer to establish their voice and build a unique identity.
Even if you're writing on a company blog, I believe best practices demand that you be identified as the blogger by name, not as the "admin."
Make it practical
While I'm probably the worst example of this principle, the best blogs are those that are written with the reader in mind. What's important to the reader becomes the topic being blogged on a given day.
There is a fine line between blogging on topics about which you are passionate and writing for your audience. Arguments could be made for both. After all, if you write feverishly about a topic of great interest to you, chances are you will build an audience of those who share that same interest.
Still, I believe bloggers have a responsibility to use their pulpit responsibly, and I believe that denotes an emphasis on attending to the needs of readers. Again, I'm the worst example of this ever.
Make it topical
If you're using a blog for marketing purposes, especially if SEO is a factor (and why wouldn't it be), I believe it's best to focus on an individual topic.
My favorite example of this principle is a blog about single-serve coffee makers. Google that phrase and see what comes up as the #1 return. In fact, don't click the search button, click "I'm Feeling Lucky" (assuming you're actually using Google as the search engine).
The #1 return is SingleServeCoffee.com, a blog about, what else, single serve coffeemakers, coffees, and other items related to that topic. As it pertains to this topic, Google has accorded this site top dog status for years.
I've often said that a frequently-updated, keyword-optimized, topically-centric blog will improve your presence on Google better than anything else. While it's not practical to choose this approach for every blog, again, if marketing is the primary driver, thinking topically is the way to go.
Make it fit the platform
Okay, so that heading is a bit forced, but I'm big on alliteration. What I mean is that, in spite of what I said earlier, platforms do play something of a factor, so choosing the right one for the blogging approach being taken is important. Let me explain.
Twitter is commonly referred to as a "micro-blog," in that its posts are limited to 140 characters. Obviously, you can't write 3,000 word essays there. Conversely, Wordpress, Typepad, MovableType and a number of other blog platforms are well-suited to long-form blogging.
But, what if you want to write posts that retain the anecdotal character of Twitter, but not be constrained by character limits. Posterous is a blog platform that has carved a niche for itself in what is becoming known as micro-blogging, but not in the Twitter sense. Typepad has also identified micro-blogging as a space where it wants to establish a presence. For the first time, they are offering a free micro-blog to anybody who wants one.
Make it happen
I know blogs are the forerunners of the social media movement and some consider them to be antiquated and out of style. I still believe blogs can do for you or your company what no other form of social media can, especially from the standpoint of SEO and/or content marketing, which often go hand-in-hand.
There are any number of reasons to use a blog and I would be happy to enumerate them if you'd like. I'd also be happy to assist you or your company with establishing a blog marketing strategy. Please feel free to contact me if you'd have an interest in such.
I'm leaving the question on the table. Is there a right or wrong way to blog? Please leave a comment stating your thoughts and opinions. I'd really like to hear from you.
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