Tuesday, January 17, 2006

To blog or not to blog, that is the marketing question

With rise of all kinds of social technologies, companies (and libraries, I might add) are trying to figure out how best to take advantage of the opportunities they present. Articles on the topic pour in everyday. Here's some of the more interesting ones I've collected lately:

The Boston Globe online summarizes steps companies like Disney have taken into the wild world of podcasting in its article "Companies Catch on to Podcasts' Marketing Power." In the piece, experts suggest that to be effective, podcasts can't just be press releases. Rather, they need to demonstrate an understanding of the audience and teach them something of value (and it doesn't hurt to be entertaining!).

In destinationCRM.com's article, "A New Marketing Medium," the author describes how companies are using blogs to open up the lines of communication between them and their customers. As the author states, "Companies can use blogging to indirectly fine-tune their marketing messages through social interactions. With other customer communication avenues, companies may be using the wrong language or addressing the wrong audience, but blogging enables faster feedback and a more strategic understanding of where the market is heading." Most interestingly, one expert gives 4 steps for achieving success with blogs. The first 3 are what you might expect (find influencers, listen to people, engage people in dialogue), but the 4th is especially exciting: give people authority - a scary prospect for many companies and libraries too! So, who's doing it right? One expert claims General Motors does because the company listens to customer concerns and explains in detail, from the company's perspective, why problems exist, what's being done to solve them, as well as revealing some inside scoops.

So, is blogging for everybody? Not necessarily, some say. Bad candidates are those who are very limited in what they can say, those who want complete control, and those who must wait a long time for approval to post. The MarketingProfs article does a good job of pointing out many of the considerations potential bloggers should make.

For you librarians who have already taken the blogging plunge, check out this MarketingProfs article about how to keep your content fresh!

Doing a good job of using these kinds of social software can generate new relationships with our patrons and teach us a lot about problems people have and how we can address them!

[Update: There are many libraries out there that are blogging/podcasting. For examples of blogs, check out this list from Blogwithoutalibrary.net. Ohio University and Western Kentucky University Libraries are but a couple of libraries that have ventured into podcasting in the form of library tours!]

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