Working the web: Blogging can help your business

Blogging has been around so long in Web years that it seems passe to even talk about it. But it's probably one of the most misunderstood things on the Web.

I constantly hear from readers who refer to the comments left on news stories as "blogs." They aren't. Comments are comments. Blogs are more than just comments.

The word blog came from Web log, a sort-of personal online diary. It's since been expanded to cover a lot of different missions than just talking about one's cat. And while the geeks could argue all day about what qualifies as a blog, let's not miss what this tool can do for your business.

At their center, blogs are personal, a window inside someone's life, personality and/or business. That's one of the reasons they have become so popular so fast.

Blogs allowed many people to reach out directly to their readers and cover whatever subject that tickled their fancy.

But can you use blogs for business? Absolutely, and any business hoping to prosper in the future should be thinking about doing it.

The next generation depends more on personal media, connections with friends, etc., for information. They want to hear from people, not companies. Connect with them in a meaningful way and they will be walking advertisements for your business. Treat them like numbers in a database and they'll ignore you.

There are a lot of easy and free blogging services out there, but let me recommend what has to be the easiest one ever: Posterus.com. This service is simple enough a dead person could use it. All you have to do is type up what you want to say in an e-mail, attach photos or video files if you want, and send it. That's it. Posterus does the rest. Put a link to your blog on your existing Web site, let your customers know about it, and you're on your way.

The newest thing in blogging is called microblogging, popularized by a service called Twitter. While the tools have changed, the object is the same, being able to communicate one-on-one with your customers. The only difference is you only have 140 characters to get your message across, so pick your words wisely.

Blogging tools will continue to evolve, as well as the terminology. But what likely will not change will be the movement toward personal media, where your customers of the future are already. You can start connecting with them now, or risk losing them forever. Your choice.

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