What is a blog, and why should small business care

Jim Blasingame

By this point on the social media time continuum, early adopters think that defining a blog is an elementary task tantamount to explaining the wheel. But here in the real world, where Main Street small businesses live, most folks actually have many un-Tweeted thoughts.  Nevertheless, since for most small businesses a blog is at once a powerful but under-used tool to be leveraged to connect with customers, perhaps a little background and illumination would be beneficial.

Early Internet adopter, Jorn Barger, first coined the term "weblog" in 1997, to describe his online journaling. As the practice became more widespread, the inevitable contraction, "blog," made speaking about this activity handier by spawning at least two verbs, "to blog" and "blogging."

As the practice grew, innovators hastened to create new blogging tools to make it easier to record and distribute ideas in the emerging - wait for it - blogosphere. Today readers can receive blog posts over multiple platforms, plus begin commenting "threads" with the blogger and other readers who have a point of view or question about the topic of the blog post.

Now back to that "powerful but under-used" thing: Small business owners must appreciate the power of these two facts:

1.  Small business owners are world-class experts on their industry and product applications.
2.  Customers want access to what small business owners know.

But even when these facts are accepted, there are still two whiny blogging excuses:

Excuse 1: "I'm not a good writer." The truth: Customers would rather read the thoughts, experience and wisdom of the non-professional writer they know, the business owner, than from some smart-alec wordsmith like me.

Excuse 2: "I don't have time." The truth: Once your blog platform is set up (you won't believe how easy it is), new posts and responding to customer comments takes minutes a week.

Practically speaking, a blog is different from a website in two ways:

1. Content - posts and comments - is changed more often and usually is more interesting, if not more helpful.
2. Handier content posting and commenting tools.

Here's the golden egg from the blogging goose: When you blog about what you know, you will connect with present and future customers and build online communities, which is one of the ways customers want to get to know your business.

Write this on a rock... Start your blog this week, and let the connecting begin.

Jim Blasingame, Creator/Host of The Small Business Advocate Show
©2010 Small Business Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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