Blogs. Most people have heard of them, a lot of them exist, and a lot of people write and/or read them. But what exactly is a blog? And how does it fit in with social media?
If we look waaaay into the depths of history – the early 1990’s to be exact – blogging first started as a type of online journal entry. At this time they were called web logs, which eventually was shortened to the name so frequently used today – Blogs.
Originally, blogs were not collaborative and consisted mostly of an author sharing their thoughts with other people online. Although blogging has retained this aspect, the creation of widgets, comment sections and links to other social media pages, has made blogging more interactive. Blogging has also become more varied in content as it is now very easy to include video, audio, images and other forms of media into blog posts.
Blogs have become an avenue for conveying messages to the public, as they are a one-to-many communication tool. They allow publications to be personalized to a certain audience and give messages a more human feel to them. Blogs have a ‘voice’ to them. Their voice could be formal and informative or casual and comedic; their voice depends on what is being discussed but also on the type of audience the author is wanting to engage with.
Businesses have adopted the use of blogs as a way of communicating with their customers due to the widespread use of blogging and the large number of people their messages can reach. Small businesses are able to use blogs as a low budget advertising option and can also build their reputation by linking all their social media pages to their blog, increasing online visibility and gaining new connections.
These days creating a blog yourself is very simple. There are essentially two different ways to go about creating a blog. The first is internally hosted blogs, which require the appropriate software and generally someone who knows a bit about IT. This option could be good for larger businesses who want full control of their blog site and would like to set everything up themselves. This option, however, is a lot more work and requires more resources than the second option.
The second and much simpler way to go about creating a blog is to use a blog hosting website. These are websites that can be used by anyone with a computer and an internet connection, which set up a domain and provide templates for your blog, making it super easy to get started. A lot of blog hosting services have different payment plans depending on the way you use the site (frequency, multiple domains, content type, etc.) but most have a free option which is basic yet totally sufficient as an entry to the blogging world.
There are many different blog hosting services to choose from, but two of the main players are Google’s Blogger and WordPress. Both of these sites offer a free account option and both make it very easy to quickly set up your blog.
So, what role does blogging play in the realm of social media?
As mentioned earlier, businesses have been making the most of blogging’s broad audiences to communicate with their customers/consumers/potential clients. They have also been stringing their social media activity together to increase visibility, and that is where blogging comes into the equation.
Each type of social networking site has something to offer – Instagram for photos, YouTube for videos, Facebook for communication and Twitter for short messages such as promo and updates. Together these social networking sites are effective for capturing the attention of current or potential customers. Blogs, however, offer something that these other social networking sites do not. That is, the ability to communicate personally and candidly, presented in a way the business wants it to be presented, with the option of sharing small pieces of information or whole narratives about the origin of the business or the people behind the logo. This type of social media networking is more personal than similar platforms, and has the capability of providing different experiences depending on the different purpose for each blog’s existence.
So there you have it. An albeit basic yet informative overview of what a blog is, how businesses can use them, and how they fit in with social media. For more in depth overviews, be sure to head over to YouTube and search for what is- or how to make a blog, there are some great videos there that dive in a little further than I’ve been able to here.
Of course, I would have embedded a video myself, but sadly this student can only afford the free version of WordPress… *sigh*