Chief Marketing Officer at Wordtracker.com
18 February 2003 07:32am
Two significant pieces of news this week.
First, on Sunday Google announced the purchase of Blogger or more exactly perhaps, the software behind Blogger. (Google Buys Web Publishing Tool, http://www.bizreport.com/article.php?art_id=4162 )
Second, newsletter ASP, Imakenews.com announced a new product, DirectBlogT to help corporations run business blogs, or b-blogs (Business Wakes up to Blogging, http://www.technologymarketing.com/mc/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1818186
It looks like we are going to hear a lot more about blogs and particularly b-blogs in the next year.
I first came across Blogger about 2 years ago when the Guardian did a two-page spread. I had a look but to tell you the truth, I thought they were a bit weird and moved on to other things that were likely to make me some money.
Then just before Christmas, Kathleen Goodwin suggested in her Clickz column that blogs were one of the things to keep an eye on in 2003. She then followed up with a couple of articles on b-blogs. (B-Blogs Cause a Stir, http://www.clickz.com/em_mkt/enl_strat/article.php/1579091 )
I remember wondering at the time why she was giving so much space to b-blogs. When you realise that Kathleen is CEO of IMakeNews, it all falls into place. A nice bit of sowing the seeds.
Anyway, Kathleen’s musings put blogs on my radar and I bought a copy of Rebecca Blood’s “The Weblog Handbook” to learn a bit more ( a good but basic introduction).
Then while researching the Linking Matters Report, http://www.linkingmatters.com (another shameless link), I discovered that “Google loves Blogs” because (i) they include loads of links and (ii) they’re kept constantly fresh. Well, it now looks as if that love has been requited!
I’ve now come across come interesting blogs on e-marketing:
My searching then took me to http://www.blogs4business.com from John Lawler who is very proud of the fact that he now comes up in position 1, 2 or 3 for “Blog Consultant” on Google.
I enthusiastically scanned his site to learn what a blog consultant was and why they might be important but emerged none the wiser. However, John does promise a forthcoming article, “33 Ways Blogs Can Benefit Your Business”. I wait with baited breath.
Finally, here’s the rub.
Blogs are probably going to be important in the year ahead and we all need to know more about them. If you have any experiences, case studies or articles, please share them with the community. For my part, Blogs are definitely on my radar and I’ll pull together my thoughts and publish them in the near future.
Could we then put together an exciting job definition for a ‘Blog Consultant’ – it could be an opportunity for us all!
Doesn't the name 'DirectBlogT' just trip off the tongue.
18 February 2003 07:58am
Most remiss of me not to mention Mike Butcher's excellent Mbites, http://www.mbites.com
After all, The Guardian did! (Monday Feb 17th)
CEO at Econsultancy
18 February 2003 10:04am
Yes, I too am very interested in the growing phenomenon that is Blogs. The Google deal will only serve to heighten their profile. Funnily enough, the last person I talked to about blogging in any detail was Meg Hourihan (http://www.megnut.com/) one of the founders of Pyra Labs - I'm trying to remember if she said she still had equity in the company or not ;)
Why am I interested in blogs?
1. Search engine referrals
Blogs are often very popular, their content is up to date, the way the information architecture usually works is very suitable to indexing (big long pages of text, no frames etc), they usually inter-link with each other...
All of which is to say that they are a potential gold mine of valuable links. Also, as they are run by individuals, it is much easier to get quick decisions made. I'm certainly keen to get good blogs linking in to e-consultancy. Mike Butcher's excellent Mbites, http://www.mbites.com, which you mention, already does, but then he is the editor of our newsletter.
2. Ideal platform for certain sites
I've been involved with web development one way or another for over 8 years now and, more recently, have been paricularly involved with content management and ways to optimise the performance of a site, whether through increased direct or indirect returns, or, as is the vogue at the moment, cost savings. Cost savings through various ways - marketing efficiencies, process streamlining and so on, but also site development and maintenance costs.
Given that companies are now becoming more realistic in their web ambitions, as it is clearer what the likely returns will be, they are also (in my experience) slightly more willing to compromise. Not in a bad way but, for example, people understand the benefits of a template-based design for efficient content management and are more prepared to sacrifice elements of their highly-stylised design to get that.
Blogs provide a publishing platfrom that isn't *that* flexible in terms of design but it is cost effective and it works. It is eminently 'fit for purpose'. So I would certainly expect to see blog publishing tools used as 'content management systems' and web publishing platforms in a business context. And why not?
3. High value, niche content
We're soon to launch our paid subscription service on e-consultancy. To compete, and offer something truly valuable and different, we have sourced content from places where the big guys like Factica would never go and which the trade publishers like Centaur and Haymarket would not consider as they rely on their own (more news-focused) content.
Blogs is an area we are actively pursuing because there is some really great, high value, niche content out there which we feel would be made all the more valuable if brought together in one place. Yes, it is free to access if you knew where to find it and could be bothered to trawl around all the individual sites.
The nice things about Blogs from a content syndication and licensing point of view:
- the content is almost always simply structured text in XML , great for importing
- the intellectual property is owned by one person (though gets more complicated when they use excerpts from others...)
- because most, if not all, the content is 'one way', i.e. comes from one individual, the quality is consistent
- it regularly updates
- it can be inexpensive as the individual blogger is doing it all for the love it anyway so any fees are welcome
On the back of the above, I have 2 questions:
- do you think there is value in aggregating the best e-business blogs into 1 data source for searching etc?
- who should we be talking to (we've got some in mind but feedback welcome)?
Partner at JohnLawlor.com
19 February 2003 01:33am
So what is a ________ (insert area of specialty here) Consultant? (and can I be one?)
Does it matter if you are an email marketing consultant, a banner consultant or a business-blog consultant? Any consultant must provide knowledge and value to clients in their area of expertise.
In my case, I am a business-blog consultant because I have devoted most of my waking hours over the last 6 months to researching what has been happening in the blog space, kicking the tires on most of the software on the market, testing my business theories and developing a model for business-blog success. Then I put my money where my thinking was...and launched nine blogs with daily postings and watched to see if Google noticed...and it did. I now have top page ranking on dozens of keywords that matter to my business and these top rankings extend to several other engines beyond Google. I now have something of value to sell to clients.
Yes, my note on my blogs that I have been ranking 1,2 or 3 for "blog consultant" on Google is a little chest-beating. I'm happy that the research, thinking and experimentation are showing consistent results.
I'm happy that I have proof of what is currently working for business-blogs and happy that I am now attracting clients who are reading about in the NY Times and other major media about this new thing called "blog."
Thank you Ken. I needed your posting to take a few minutes to express my attitude of gratitude that I made a good choice in focusing on blogs...lord knows I have barked up several wrong Internet trees these past few years!
P.S. I am US based and always looking for mutually beneficial and profitable relationships in other markets.
19 February 2003 07:10am
Thanks for the reply to my somewhat tongue-in-cheek posting. I'm very sorry for the gentle ribbing. I should have known better!
You are absolutely right - experimentation and hard work are what are required to make anything work in consultancy. And once you gain knowledge, sharing it with others is the best way to attract both business and additional knowledge.
So well done and thanks for the input. Business Blogs are clearly going to be important and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
ceo at mbites media
24 February 2003 11:09am
Just to add my two pence worth....
Firstly, thanks for the kind comments about http://www.mbites.com, those of you who mentioned it.
Secondly, (plug alert!) if you are interested in finding out how mbites could help your business, take a look at http://www.mbites.co.uk/staticpages/index.php?page=20021113150358105
Thirdly, yes, there is a good case for blogs becoming integral to how businesses market themselves, conduct internal communications and so on. Because of simple RSS syndication, because they have very low overheads, and because they are an 'inch wide and a mile deep' blogs have the potential to be very powerful.
However, I would equally argue that email newsletters still have a lot of currency because they emphasise the ownership of the audience. You can have a high-traffic blog, but if you own no information on them, like an email address, you are at the mercy of the next competitor to come along.
Lastly, as a journalist with several years experience I'd argue - as you'd expect - that sifting and commenting on information still needs that professional touch. That doesn't matter if the professionalism arises through lots of practice, (as we know many amateur bloggers have become extremely good and often beat the professional 'writers'), or in a more formal environment. But professionalism does matter when it comes to issues like fair use of copyright, libel, and good old fashioned writing, editing and analysis.
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