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What Is a Blog?

by on July 26, 2011

A blog (a blend of the term web log) is a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (art blog), photographs (photoblog), videos (video blogging), music (MP3 blog), and audio (podcasting). Microblogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts.

As of 16 February 2011, there were over 156 million public blogs in existence.

Wikipedia

OK, that’s a formal definition, and it is of some help. We need something more though, something that will enable us to get our arms around not only what a blog is in a mechanical sense but what is it in a contextual sense, i.e. where will it fit in with my business (this is about business isn’t it?), and how will it benefit my business.

I don’t have the complete answers to these questions but I’ve been digging around, reading various blogs (I mean, where else to see and learn what blogs are) and I think I’ve got a few fundamentals forming in my mind. At the risk of having to revise or retract them at a later time, here goes:

  1. Blogs are but a part of the wider phenomenon, Social Media.
  2. Social media includes many things but, in addition to blogs, probably foremost are the platforms Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  3. I just read a blog in which the author polled 30 prominent people in the field of Social Media asking for a definition. You won’t be surprised  to read that no two were the same, but two key words stick out in my mind from reading them, Community and Interaction. Since communities are built around some set of common interests, and in this context we can say interaction is communication, putting community and interaction together we can say that Social Media is about Many-to-Many communication around a common set of interests. Now I didn’t just think that up, I’ve seen it written in many places (whoops, I meant many blogs).
  4. Since blog entries (they’re referred to as posts) are initiated by a single person, or a group of authors selected and approved by the originator of the blog, a blog is different from the old concept of a forum. In a forum, anyone that is part of the “group” can initiate a discussion thread. These are quite common in technical support. The point here is that the “owner” of the blog initiates the discussion with a post. The post might generate any number comments on top of comments that are shown with the post as they are received and approved, but the topic is chosen and initiated by the “owner” whether that’s one, or many authors.
  5. OK, why is this important? Stay with me on this. If, and this is a big If, there are people that can productively use information about a certain area, be it broad or narrow, AND you have the knowledge and/or experience to provide that information, you have the opportunity to help those people by offering your knowledge and experience. If it’s your blog, you pick the topics. As long as you’re offering information that honestly is helpful, you can become the “go-to guy” for a community, whether it’s for free information offered through blog posts and other social media, or for services and products offered on a fee basis..
  6. Now I’m not saying it’s easy or that this simple blog post covers all the bases. It may only generate more questions, but that’s good too.

That’s enough for now. Your comments welcome and solicited.

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From → Blogs, Social Media

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