One of the most integral stages of any design process is research. Which is why, even though I consider myself to be relatively tech-savvy, the decision to attend the Blog Savannah Un-con this past weekend before launching our own blog was a wise one. I thought I knew what blogging was, and through the discussions (and disagreements) of those 1.5 days, I realized just how much my conclusions were based on impressions rather than fact.
I won’t bother rehashing notes on specific sessions since that’s already been covered adequately by other attendee bloggers. (For a particularly interesting one check out Lisa’s) I’d instead like to highlight a few themes that I found interesting and instructional, from a newbie blogger point of view, and hopefully it’ll be helpful to anyone out there in a similar position to where I was prior to the Un-con experience.
What is a Blog?
One of the most contentious issues in the sessions I sat in on was trying to pin down a conclusive list of criteria as to what constituted a blog, and by extension, a blogger. Similar to the ongoing debate about what constitutes art, there were strongly-held and varied opinions, but a few areas of commonality came out:
1.At it’s core, a blog is basically a frequently (an emphasis on frequently) updated website. Phrases like “The World-Live Web” and “Fresh content served daily” were used to help encapsulate this idea. How it’s used (whether a personal journal, journalistic outlet or marketing tool) is completely up to the blogger.
2.It’s a community affair. The ability to interact with the creator of the website on a personal level is what separates a blog from the common website. More than just clicking buttons but engaging in a dialogue through the medium. How this differs from online forums was best illustrated by Josh Hallett in his Blogging 101 session: “Imagine forums as a conversation. Blogging allows you to bring that conversation to your front porch.”
3.The tone is casual. This characteristic is especially important in corporate blogs as we the consumers have grown up enough to smell a sell a mile away. I mean how many times have we heard “For all your ________ needs.” If the corporate website should reflect the company, the blog should represent the people, or better yet, the individuals behind the institution.
Benefits of Corporate Blogging
Besides the obvious increased internet traffic benefit, Blogging, humanizes a company. So much of our interaction is done through carefully orchestrated experiences that it’s easy to forget that we’re dealing with other human beings. I’m a proponent of what I’m calling Relationship-Based Business (I don’t know if anyone else has coined that phrase, if so let me know), and blogging helps facilitate the human interaction inspite of the keyboards and miles of cable that separate us.
Another benefit I discovered came from Chris Cree’s session. With a Blog you can influence the conversation about you. Chris put it well when he said that either people are already talking about your business (in which case why not find out what they’re saying?), or they’re not talking about your business (in which case how are you still in business?)
Having already broken who knows how many of Jim Morekis’ 3 rules of blogging, I’ll continue my thoughts on the social dynamics of blogging another time.