Of all the types of social media, none have received more attention and curiosity than blogging. Recent reports have looked at the rampant growth of blogs as well as their ability to allow publishers to gain reader response while putting out information in a more timely manner.
But what are the other reasons for blogging and which of these reasons are most pertinent to magazine publishers? For the answers to these key questions, we turned to Blog-watcher and marketer Christina Kerley.
Known by most as "CK", Christina Kerley is a marketing specialist based out of New York City. Through her business, ckEpiphany, she works with technology and media companies on their strategies, plans and programs.
In late 2006, Christina posed the question, "Why blog?" to some of the top Media minds today. The product of these responses was Voice-in, a blog "collage" which highlighted some of the best responses CK received when she asked readers why they blogged.
In this exclusive interview, CK answers what magazine publishers have to gain by embracing blogging.
1.) Last year, you asked several successful marketers why they blog. What were some of the consistent themes of their responses?
I specifically asked the marketing community to pinpoint "the single greatest point of value they receive from blogging" because I wanted to focus my peers on the core value that nets from the time and thought they place into this medium. The blogosphere is a conversation, an exchange of ideas, and while we're all receiving value from this exchange the core value for each blogger differs. Thusly, the themes were widespread and spanned: knowledge, connection, community, expression, self-improvement,innovation and many, many more.
2.) Were there any surprises?
There were many surprises but what was most surprising was the vast range of responses. Then again, when you bring people together to share ideas, opinions and best practices there are bound to be many perspectives. Just take ten minutes to review the responses and you'll be amazed at how differently each person responded; it's quite enlightening.
3.) A recent report about Magazine Publishers use of Web 2.0 technologies showed that 38% of America's Top 100 magazines use blogs. What's your response to that number?
It's an impressive percentage given that blogs didn't surface until late 2001 and didn't really gain steam until 2004/2005. But what's more impressive? My money's on that number increasing to at least 70% by year-end 2007. People are just not going to settle for one-way communications channels; it's a democratized media era;an age of full-loop communications. Publishers can be wary of this trend--which is cycling to permanent shift--or see it for what it really is: the most exciting, energizing time to be in the media industry. If publishers adopt and embrace these changes they can build more loyalty and interest in their media properties. If they don't, they'll only have themselves to blame.
4.) Pretend you were a magazine publisher - what would be your reasons for blogging?
The short answer is survival. The longer answer is that as publisher I have a responsibility to my readership to address their needs, inform them of relevant events and respond to their inquiries. As publisher my job is to identify and circulate information for my constituencies. Since these markets view blogs as quickly shifting to the norm, they are no longer going to be content with a simple e-mail or "Letters to the Editor" feature. Wouldn't publishers want to engage in an open dialogue with their readers? Additionally, through blogging readers will help to identify new stories and build communities supporting the magazineļ¾ so it's a win-win for publisher and readers.
5.) Magazine publishers typically look at their web sites as new revenue streams. Is it possible for a magazine publisher to get paid for their blogs? Does it matter?
Blogging most definitely produces ROI, be it as a media property for advertising or to increase or sustain readership. However, while the lifeblood of business is cash-flow, blogs need to be viewed as indirect profit centers in that they are a strategy (and tactic) to engage new readers and strengthen customer relationships.
6.) If somebody reading this article has no experience with blogging, what five things should they know before they start?
- Blogging is about people not blogs: focus on creating value for the people who comprise your audience (it's about "them" not you).
- Blogging takes places in the broader community not just at your own blog: participate with other blogs and bloggers, not just your own.
- Blogging is an open exchange; it's also an exercise in ethics: be honest and transparent with your readers as this will facilitate trust in your brand.
- Blogging requires an investment of time more than money: allocate resources to fulfill this need so readers can depend upon recent, relevant information and feedback.
- Blogging should never be outsourced: don't put an intern or a third party in charge of your blog;only place professionals that understand the brand and can communicate its value to readers in charge of the blog.
Christina Kerley, known by most as "CK", is a marketing specialist based out of New York City. Through her business, ckEpiphany, she works with technology and media companies on their strategies, plans and programs. She hosts a popular online book club with over 550 members, speaks to business audiences and runs an active marketing blog.