We’re getting tired of people trying to define the word “blog” for us — because usually the definitions reflect at best an overly narrow and, at worst, a self-serving interpretation of the word.
This has been the case ever since the first ubergeek began writing content in reverse chronological order. In the 10 years since blogging started, we’ve been told by various self-proclaimed authorities that blogging is:
- a personal diary
- a stream-of-consciousness ramble that is “inauthentic” if it has been spell-checked or properly punctuated
- an exciting new way to argue with and attack our fellow man — er, we mean hold a “conversation”
Now, of course, blogging has evolved well beyond these limited (and limiting) definitions. We now have group blogs that are similar in content to magazines, blogs that gather or aggregate news around certain topics or interests, and so on and so forth.
And yet, when it comes to corporate blogs, everyone wants to go back to ubergeek rules:
The blog must be written by the CEO, and he must put his name on it, and he must actually write all the words himself, and he must accept criticism in comments and respond to that criticism.
In other words, it should be a personal diary with lots of authentic typos and bad writing, and the CEO should be willing to argue about it with any schmoe who takes 30 seconds to post a negative comment.
Um, excuse us but — SAYS WHO?
Here’s what a blog is: A series of entries on a Web site that appear in reverse chronological order, per the standards of blogging software.
Beyond that, have at it! Do what you want with the format! Change it. Expand it. Adapt it to your specific needs.
If you want a ghostwritten CEO blog, for example, go for it! If it’s of value, people will read it. If it’s a bunch of PR fluff, they won’t — no matter who composes the words.
CEOs don’t have the time (or in many cases the writing skills) to prepare their own speeches, letters to shareholders, and on and on. Same deal with blogs.
Try all you want to hold companies to ubergeek rules; it’s just not practical and it’s not going to happen.
If you want to create a blog that covers your industry rather than offering the typical company diary, that’s fine, too — even if the blog pharisees criticize you for not adhering to blog orthodoxy. Ultimately, it will be the quality of what you produce that will matter — not whether your ideas fit into someone else’s box.
When working with our clients, we’ve got one rule — and only one rule — when it comes to blogs and online communities:
Be honest. Don’t misrepresent yourself.
If you’re doing that, you should feel completely comfortable in standing up to your critics and creating your own model of what a blog should be.
We’re reminded of something we told Geoff Livingston not too long ago:
Web 2.0 started the way Web 1.0 started. That is, you had a bunch of techies and academics and anti-corporate types running everything and thinking they could make the rules for everybody else. But guess what? They can’t. We live in a deregulated market economy — and ultimately, where there is money to be made, the market will make the rules.
If you want a gold star from the blog pharisees, fine. But the market doesn’t go by ubergeek rules; it goes by what the consumer wants. And in the case of blogs, consumers will choose what they read based on the value of the content — and little else.