How Can Blogs Help Businesses?

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A business might wonder if blogs are of use to them now, especially with the new popularity of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Yet blogs still have a valuable place. After all, many companies realized a few years ago that customers were turned off by fact-heavy websites that looked like pages from an Annual Report. Once they made their sites more interactive, often by means of blogs, the whole company-customer dynamic changed and became more positive and interactive.

It’s well known in the business blogosphere that Dell Computers led the way, being one of the first companies to make such a change. Even as successful a business as Dell was, a barrier still existed between the company and its customers, many of whom had frustrating complaints that weren’t being addressed. When the company set up to receive blog entries, the turnaround in its relationship with customers was remarkable. General Motors, too, had a similar experience.

While some customers still prefer regular email newsletters with the latest business news, others are eager to unclog their inboxes and check a company blog instead. A business can reach people in all of these ways, each serving different needs. One advantage of using the blog, however, will be that the posted information won’t vanish off the bottom of the page as quickly as Twitter updates. Nor will the responses from customers.

Businesses do need to be cautious about raising customers’ expectations, however. While an almost one-on-one relationship might be possible between a small business and its customers, larger companies may not be able to respond to all queries or complaints, and this could damage its reputation if it’s not careful.

But another use for blogging, and one that businesses might not even consider at first, is for internal communication. Even though employees can keep in touch via email, meetings or conference calls, an internal blog can focus on one department or a single project, providing a central place for a team to receive regular updates or make an informal record of their progress. This will keep these employees up to date without their own email inbox piling up to an unmanageable level.

Blogs were not the first tool in the social networking arsenal, but once the internet really became established and blogging software was created to make online interaction easier, blogs became valuable tools to help a business exchange information and feedback with its customers. These web pages can provide up-to-date news, in a more permanent form than on other media, and keep the crucial lines of communication open.

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