blog rss man

Every few months somebody somewhere will publish yet another article or report claiming that blogging is dead and that something else has come along to replace it.

Today’s Sunday Business Post IT supplement is no different.

You can read the article via the link I’ve provided above, but in essence they’re trying to make out that blogs are being replaced.

Personally I don’t agree at all.

I’ve been blogging for about 5 years at this stage. I started off doing it on a purely personal level, but over time my posts began to cover topics that were related to the business and the industry I work in.

Eventually I decided that there was no point not having a company blog, so I set this one up.

Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, Jaiku and any of the other “networking” sites that may appear in the future, are all wonderful tools in their own way.

Each site serves its users in its own particular manner and is probably geared towards a specific demographic. Just because a site exists does not mean that its demographic is really suited to your business. (Obviously this depends on what you are selling)

However, I honestly do not think that you can categorically claim that Bebo or Facebook can replace a blog.

We are active on both Facebook and Twitter, but we have also hooked our two existing company blogs into both systems, so instead of one replacing another we are using the RSS from the blogs to enrich the content we are publishing elsewhere.

You might also notice that every single page of our main website has the RSS feeds from both blogs and the forum. We also provide links to the two blogs via the customer control panel.

What that hopefully means is that people will be able to access the information we need them to access easily.

Unlike “traditional” marketing techniques RSS powered media, such as blogs, use “pull” instead of “push”.

What does that mean in reality?

Well instead of us sending you a marketing message (or industry information) we make it available in a manner that allows you to choose if you want to get it or not.

That doesn’t mean that we have abandoned more “traditional” marketing techniques – we still send out email newsletters to clients for example, and we spend quite a bit on print media advertising in Ireland, the UK and the US.

Some people talk about blogs and other media as being a way of engaging in a conversation and I guess that description is probably quite appropriate. We put ourselves “out there” whenever and wherever we can and are more than happy to take on board constructive feedback. Of course not all of our interactions with the public are successful and sometimes I’ll say something very harsh that I might not have said if I’d taken a few minutes to think before speaking!

If we can take action based on the feedback then hopefully we’ll be able to offer a better service to our clients and, in turn, make more money.

Yes – I am more than happy to admit it. We are a business. A business exists to make money. Period.

We have certain values that we consider to be important, but ultimately the main reason we decided to embrace the various outlets was to improve our sales and spend our marketing budget more intelligently.

It’s a simple philosophy.

If we can give people a good level of service and they are happy then we can make more money.

When I was first employed by EuroDisney 16 years ago they sent us all on a two day training course to give us an overview of the company, its history, values and more. One of the key lessons I learnt then and that I will always value is that of the happy customer vs. the unhappy one. An unhappy customer can cost a business a fortune. Their direct spend may not impact on your bottom line, but as most people give greater weight to personal recommendations a vocal critic can cost you a lot more than what they would have spent themselves. Conversely while happy clients may recommend you business more of them are likely to simply not say anything at all ie. you’re more likely to hear about your critics than your fans.

Does it work?

It’s hard to judge exactly how well it works using standard metrics. If we run an ad campaign on Google Adwords we can easily see how well that converts, but blogs and other “social media” (I really hate that term!) aren’t as easy to track. In many respects they are not that different from print media advertising – you only notice the real impact after a longer period of time.

Unfortunately the “web 2.0” phenomenom (if that is the correct word) seems to have spawned a lot of “consultants” and self-proclaimed “experts” who seem to spend more time playing buzzword bingo with their clients money than actually producing any real results.

Anytime I see people talking about “thought leadership” or “intelligence” or “increasing an organisations IQ” when talking about blogs I have to fight an overwhelming urge to puke.

More often than not the “consultants” who use those terms have little or no clue about business. Sorry, but that’s the distinct impression I get.

You can advocate social media until the cows come home, but you need to stop using stupid buzzwords to make yourselves appear more intelligent.

Business people don’t understand marketing buzzwords – they understand tangible examples.

If you can show them how embracing blogging and other media can help them make more money or reduce their customer service issues, then maybe you might make progress.

I would, of course, say something very similar to Open Source software advocates. Telling people that Microsoft is evil isn’t constructive. Showing an SME how they can achieve the same results for less investment by using Open Office is a lot more useful.

In summary blogs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and while other platforms and media may be useful you’d be better off looking at incorporating them rather than dumping one medium in favour of another.

Maybe I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, but I know what works for me!

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