Last week’s news that Yahoo has bought the blogging tool Tumblr was greeted with a lot of commentary. These things matter to those of us working in the digital world for reasons it’s worth exploring. It’s also true that previous Yahoo takeovers, such as that of the photo-sharing service Flickr, have gone less well, and Tumblr users are already satirising the buy-out as only bloggers can. But in the main, all the coverage is the product of a simple truth: blogging is important.
You’d expect us to say that, perhaps. Given you’re reading this on our own blog, the idea that we think the medium is useful may not come as much of a surprise. Still, it’s not just us. Everyone seems to have been converted to blogging, from the BBC to every armchair pundit in the country. The reason is simple: it’s a quick, easy way to publish content direct to a platform with a potentially huge audience. The best blogs build that audience over years, and construct a fanbase around useful and entertaining content.
The implications of this for your business are clear. You already know that your present and future customers are interested in the service you provide: were they not, they wouldn’t be your customers in the first place. That means they are probably also interested in you: who you are, but also the advice you can give.
Blogs are superb ways of converting an occasional customer into a long-term visitor of your website. They offer you a means of providing new and regular content to an audience of enthusiasts, giving them a reason to return to you, your website, your products and messages, on a much more regular basis.
In case you suddenly realise you’re being hoodwinked by this very post, there’s also something much less cynical to blogging. By promoting regular visits and an open conversation with customers, you can achieve better rates of feedback and more productive client relationships. That is, blogging doesn’t just capture an audience – it gives them to chance to speak back. Blogs don’t just sell your company; they improve it.
There are all kinds of blog platforms on the market. Some, like Tumblr itself, focus on allowing you to share content such as photography and videos; others, like WordPress or Blogger, emphasise the written word. Twitter is known as a ‘microblogging’ service; older services like LiveJournal mix blogging with a forum-style interface; and exciting new platforms are being developed all the time.
We’ll almost certainly return to the subject of blogging and how to do it well in future weeks – there’s a reason to keep returning! – but, in a nutshell, that’s why last week’s news was so full of reaction to Yahoo and Tumblr’s new relationship: because blogging tools give you the power to make new relationships, too.