Last year, both major presidential campaigns achieved many firsts in political history, including this one: they each ran sophisticated Web logs updated minute-by-minute, helping to get their messages out, raise money and communicate to voters. (GeorgeWBush.com, JohnKerry.com.)
Other congressional candidates " including many unknowns " took out advertising on political blogs and, for a small amount of seed money, raised many times the amounts pinned to traditional campaign contributions.
In the technology and business worlds, as Will Pate notes, top companies and thousands of their employees are blogging. They include Sun Microsystems President Jonathan Schwartz, Intel President Paul Otellini (no link here, because his is an internal blog for company employees) and 1,400 Microsoft employees.
Lee Lefever looks at what should be obvious to the masses and writes:
Businesses are finding that the most effective way to communicate to the market is by giving employees and customers the opportunity to interact informally on the Web.
I know, breathtaking, eh? Not really, but it is the most basic point in my mind " businesses are learning to communicate like people instead of businesses. There is certainly a long way to go, but I do think it's finally happening and I'm excited.
(Emphasis in original.)
So there it is. Strip away the hype. Ignore the "hip" factor. Blogging is simply a new way to communicate and interact " but in a potentially potent way. It's an easy method to get your message to customers or business partners " even competitors " and give them an easy means to give you their feedback.
It's not complicated either. Add an RSS feed to your Web site, update with timely and interesting information about your business and the market, and suddenly you give your customers and partners a quick and easy way to access you and your business. RSS gives your Web site the ability to interact with scores, thousands or even millions of others the minute you have something to say.
As last year's political candidates found out, if you don't, your opponents and competitors will.