Posted February 18, 2008 9:21 am by with 12 comments

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USA Today’s Steve Strauss is a recent convert to the value of blogging and in today’s “Ask the Expert” he explains how blogs can help small businesses.

Glancing over his list of benefits, I can’t help but notice that they all point to why a blog is such a great tool for building your online reputation.

  • Blogs build a sense of community: By sharing your expertise in a blog, you connect with a lot more people. And as they respond to your posts, a community is created.
  • They allow you to plug products and services: But importantly, you are not doing so in an abrasive way. Using the conversational style that is the hallmark of a good blog allows you to share business products in a friendly way.
  • They boost your search engine optimization (SEO): By their very nature, blogs incorporate the hallmarks of good SEO: Keywords and links. And, as people respond to your blog, more keywords show up.
  • Blogs help make you an authority: I can tell you that being published, even if it’s only your own blog, gives you gravitas.
  • Blogs give you valuable feedback: By seeing what customers say about your posts, your blog offers valuable feedback.

I might argue a little over the first point. From my experience, few bloggers have successfully created “a sense of community” with their blogs. Even though a blog does offer the chance for you to interact with your readers, a community is very hard to build around a blog. In fact, most of the blogs you see that do have a community following tend to also have a forum or some other type of social network channel. Instead, I’d say that blogs are a great way to build a sense of conversation–in that you do get to open a dialog with your readers.

If you want more ideas of how to use blogs to build your reputation, check out chapter 9 of my new book Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online.

  • Great blog post! We agree that many bloggers do not create a sense of community. Overall this is a major challenge for us and many other blogs out there. 2008 will be the year that companies finally understand that blogging is about reputation and generating new business from the search engines.

  • Andy I agree on that first point. I think blogs can create a sense of community, but to do so you need to go beyond the usual post/comment setup. But I do think it can be done.

  • Jordan McCollum

    I’ve seen lots of blogs that have a community—but they’re mostly personal blogs (okay, mom blogs). I have a hard time envisioning a small business blog with a community.

  • I believe that communication with the client one of the most important factors of a successful growth company, but IMHO blog is not suitable for this, it is better to gather online conference or make any life-chat.

  • I think blogs create a great sense of involvement and community. Consider most companies cant manage a forum effectively, a blog is great way to “talk” to your buyers and users, while allowing them to chat back to you.

  • Building a community over a business blog is extremely tough. I’m not too sure about the last post either. I wonder how much genuine feedback you can garner through blogs.

  • I tend to agree with Nicole. My best business relationships (and sense of being involved) come from personal contact, not blogs.

  • I agree, I can’t really see any sense of community around a blog.

  • While a lot of marketers will tell you that blogs offer a sense of community via the comments, for the most part, I agree that building a community with simply a blog, is extremely difficult since, for the most part, blogs offer limited interaction (comments, polls, etc). You also struggle with the inability to take a more personal approach at times.

    Then again, if you incorporate a forum within your blog community, the odds of your site becoming stickier and people returning regularly increases.

  • Thanks for all your feedback. Now I need to consider if we need a forum to keep you all coming back. 😉

  • It seems businesses have this convoluted idea that if they install a blog then everything after that is just peachy. They don’t realize they need to actually write good content and market their blog to start obtaining things that blogs provide fruitfully such as links, community, etc.

  • how can we create a community from a business or company blog? when a community in my opinion is about personal interaction, not commercial interests.