Can a business still use a blog in a meaningful way, or have the new social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, superseded this tool? Several years ago, many companies abandoned their static, flat websites that lectured customers with facts that could have been straight out of their Annual Reports, and began including blogs. There they announced their most recent products and received customer input in return, and discovered that blogs were a valuable public relations tool.
Dell computers have always been seen as the leader in the blogging community, is one of the initial companies to make such a change. Even though Dell had become a very successful organization, a barrier still remained between the company and its consumers, many of whom had frustrating complaints that were not being attended to. When Dell set up to receive blog comments, the turnaround in its relationship with customers was remarkable. General Motors, too, had a similar experience.
Blogs can even work in tandem with email newsletters. Businesses need to engage customers in several ways. If it’s updated regularly, the blog can provide fresh information that won’t vanish down the page quite so quickly, say, as the more ephemeral tweets on Twitter. Up-to-date business news can be posted in a friendly, casual fashion, allowing customers to ask questions or make suggestions. And their remarks won’t vanish down the page either.
Companies do need to be careful about raising customers’ expectations, however. While an almost one-on-one relationship might be feasible between a small business and its customers, bigger companies may not be able to respond to all queries or complaints, and this could ruin its good reputation if the company is not vigilant.
An additional use for a blog and one that companies might not even consider at first is for internal communication. Despite the fact that employees can keep in touch by means of email, meetings or conference calls, an internal blog can concentrate on one department or a single project, providing a central place for a group to receive daily updates or make an informal entry of their advancements. This will keep these employees up to date without their own email inbox piling up to an unmanageable level.
Even though blogs are now in a lot of ways less active, they still have a function in giving up-to-date business information and news to consumers and obtaining feedback from them. Belonging to the more tried and true internet establishment, they provide information in a more permanent form than other media, yet allow a business to remain in fruitful, friendly contact with its customers.