Yours truly was part of a telepanel at the WECAI Network™ an all-day Teleconference Event event to "Help Women Do Business On and Off the Web." My Atlanta cohort and fun lunch partner, Toby Bloomberg, led the panel, where we talked about the joys and challenges of blogging.
Heidi Richards, Founder & CEO of WECAI was a great organizer and moderator. Our biz blogging panel was on Harnessing the Blogosphere, the Future of Blogs and How to use them to Promote Your Products, Service or Organization. My illustrious co-panelists were:
Here's some of the notes I made--for what they're worth--which I talked about in my six minutes:
Good Blog Characteristics
- The first point I want to make is that "Blogs are conversations," and what that means is that as a blogger you are ALWAYS talking to someone--hopefully MORE than some one but some days it seems like an audience of one. Conversation means you are actually talking to other human beings, not just to yourself.
- With that conversation comes a responsibility. Good blogging brings a responsibility to be genuine--authentic--and honest. That doesn't mean you can't tell stories or that you can't ever use poetic license. It means that if you lie and try to cover it up, you will never present your business in a way that doesn't ring true because 1of 2 things will happen: 1) you will be left unread at best, 2) you’ll be outed and mercilessly ridiculed at worst.
- And NO ONE makes fun of people better than bloggers. So big rule of good blogging is to be who you are. It's easier and more effective than pretending. Be human. Be MORE than your business is. Don't be afraid to hold a point of view you believe in.
An obvious point but worth mentioning: a blog is not a commercial or a press release—again, it’s a conversation you’re having with your readers.
A word about comments--welcome them, be prepared to handle them. And remember you have options.
- Comments can be moderated--which means you approve them before they show up—or unmoderated, which means they appear immediately. It's ok to moderate comments, get rid of spam. But don't toss away negative feedback. Criticism and debate is one of the most valuable parts of blogging. Arguments can be valuable, and you can demonstrate further who you are by how you handle negative feedback. (And don't be a wimp.)
To Blog or Not to Blog?
- Good blogging requires that you consider what you are trying to do with your blog BEFORE you get started.
- Blogging will work well if your business strategy is very customer focused and you're comfortable talking to your customers -- and NOT ONLY CUSTOMERS to others, but to others in the industry, to media and influencers, in a public venue. It is not so different from speaking at conferences, except that you are talking with potentially anyone and everyone at one time.
- Remember, writing to the net is very public - Google has a long memory... and that's not to scare you. That's just the way it is. What you publish on your blog will remain searchable for a long time—even if you take down your blog, some pages remain “cached” and accessible for a while.
- Don't BLOG IF -- you're doing it simply because blogging is in the news and everyone else is doing it. If that's the reason you get started, you will end up sacrificing honesty, authenticity, voice... and you will fail to resonate with your readers—which means you won’t have any.
Some Biz Blogging Benefits
- If you approach blogging with a passion to communicate with people, an honesty about who you are as a human being and as a business person, blogging can deliver some REAL benefits.
- For instance, you’ll develop deeper conversation-based relationships with customers who begin to enjoy your writing style and way of relating to them. That means you are making FRIENDS and friends are good to have. People who LIKE you are more apt to do business with you. Blogging makes you more accessible.
- You’ll be viewed as a thought leader in your field. Blogging expands your visibility writing on topics related to your business.
- You’ll become a better communicator overall because blogging is something you do every day, or at least regularly, and it sharpens your writing and communication skills.
- You will broaden and deepen your personal and professional network--I would not know the women here today with me if not for blogging. Blogging greatly extends relationships, introduces you to some very cool people--and suddenly you know more about your market, who your colleagues are, who your customers are.
- If your competitors AREN'T blogging, you have an automatic competitive advantage because you have another channel to your customers that they don't have. If they are blogging, they have that advantage over you. That’s one big checkmark in the “I should blog” column.
- Blogging is the gateway to participating in other social media--personal and professional--from MySpace for quirky fun, to LinkedIn, a network of business professionals
- And the search engine component of blogging shouldn't be overlooked. When I started blogging in 2001, there was 1 search result return when I typed my name, "Jeneane Sessum"--a unique name--into Google. Today there are almost a half million returns.
I had a lot of fun on the call. At the end the panel got into a discussion about pay-per-post, and I guess I leaned on the side of I'm not sure it's all bad. I also decided to try it before I diss it. Because I don't understand the nuances yet. My Diva colleagues may join me in that exercise, so stay tuned for the good, the bad, and the ugly on that.
All in all, a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. THANKS ladies!
[[also published at blogher.org]]