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Mar31
Stewart Mader: You Either Get It (Wikipedia) Or You Don't (Britannica)
Note by Easton: Thanks go to Stewart Mader for this guest post, which forms part of the Know More Media Guest Blogger Week event.  Stewart has also posted about wikis twice this week at this blog (see "Wiki vs. Blog" and "The Difference Between Steve Jobs And Bill Gates; The Zen Wiki").

Chartreuse wrote a great post called The New Hotness (Or the Encyclopedia Britannica's Guide To Becoming Internet RoadKill) on the Know More Media blog, and he's right on.

Every time something new and revolutionary comes along, some refuse to acknowledge it, others cast it off as a fad, and some attack it in the most virulent terms. Those who refuse to acknowledge it are preoccupied with day to day routine and unable to see it coming. Those who cast it off as a fad at least have the ability to see a larger picture, but stand to lose more because they discard that potential foresight. The third group loses the most, because, by attacking the new and so firmly planting themselves against it, they establish themselves as anti-new, and therefore, stiff, resistive, and out of touch.

Britannica has just joined that third group. By virulently attacking Wikipedia, they've planted themselves on the wrong side of the line, and by taking so long to do so, they've made Nature's case better than Nature could. In business, and education, you must be fast, know who you're competing with, and be agile. The bottom line is, I used Wikipedia this morning, and I can't remember the last time I used Britannica.

by Stewart Mader

Mar30
Blog Star Or Blog Galaxy - A Guest Post By Paul Chaney
Note by Easton: Many thanks to Paul Chaney for guest posting here.  It's Know More Media Guest Blogger Week and we're welcoming a variety of guest blogger opinions and insights on our network.

I have a friend, David Crockett, a Realtor from Mentor, Ohio, who has done something really evolutionary where business blogging is concerned. (No, he doesn't wear a coonskin cap btw.) He started a blog community for his area, Lake County, Ohio, using organizations in his locale as bloggers for the site (United Way, City of Mentor, etc.). This approach is not without precedent of course. Newspapers have been doing the very same thing for some time to bolster lagging subscription sales. What is unusual is that it is the first such site sponsored by a real estate agency.

A recent article in his local paper explained that David chose this route as opposed to creating a single company blog for a couple of reasons. First, Realtors, he said, won't take time to blog. Second, and this is the cool part, he likened it to locating a star in the universe, suggesting its much easier to find a "galaxy" of stars than a single one. With a new blog being created every second, you can understand his reasoning.

So, David began his own blog galaxy called Lake County Blog comprised of 20 or 30 blogs all under one URL. On each page of each blog there are branding elements leading to his website and MLS site.

His hope is that the site will continue to grow in numbers of contributors and visitors. Because David understands that the key to success from a marketing standpoint is to keep information updated and fresh, he has taken initiative to train bloggers and even provided them with an operations manual.

In the interest of full-disclosure, the company with which I serve as VP of Marketing, Blogging Systems, was the developer for the site. Regardless, I wouldn't be talking about this if I didn't think David was onto something worth duplicating. I suspect other Realtors will watch to see if his idea gets wings and, if so, will follow-suit. In fact, others already are.

My point here is this: In this ever-expanding cosmos called the blogosphere, it's easier to see a galaxy rather than a single star. Kudos to David for what amounts to a "brilliant" idea!
by Paul Chaney
Mar29
Ted Demopoulos: The Four Types of Business Blogs
Note by Easton: Special thanks to Ted Demopoulos for this guest post on business blogs. It's part of the continuing Know More Media Guest Blogger Week.

It's extremely important to plan a business blog instead of just "starting" it. Part of the planning must include what type of blog is being started. I break business blogs into four basic types depending on their primary purpose:

1) Internal blogs: Internal blogs are used for internal company or project communications, and are not available on the Internet.

Often they replace a lot of emails, and serve as a repository of information, avoiding the "who should I cc:?," "where is that email?," and " who followed up on the email?" type worries.

2) Problogs: I call blogs started primarily to make money, for example through advertising and affiliate programs, problogs. A problog can be on ANY topic that people are interested in, for example handbags or cameras.

Blogs in blog networks are often in this category, for example this one. I think of them as the blog equivalent of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and TV shows.

3) Company Blogs: These are blogs started to help support an existing company or product. These blogs help companies by communicating with customers and getting feedback, increasing traffic to the companies website, generally getting the word out about the company, increasing potential customer's comfort level with the company, etc. There are many different types of company blogs, for example product blogs, industry blogs, etc. A great post on this subject is Mark Nash: Business Blog Taxonomy 101.

Examples include GM's FastLane Blog and my The Ted Rap Blog.

4) Independent professional blogs: These are similar to company blogs, but are written – and owned – by individuals. These people are usually passionate about their work and blog about it.

Examples include Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion and Bob Cargill's A New Marketing Commentator. Both gentlemen recently switched employers, but since their blogs are their own property, their blogging has continued on uninterrupted.

Do all business blogs fit neatly into these categories – no, of course not, but I find this a useful categorization at least for myself, and for my clients when planning a business blog.

By Ted Demopoulos
Chris Bubny: Should Realtors Have Real Estate Blogs?
Note by Easton: Thanks go out to to Chris Bubny for offering us this guest post on real estate blogging.  This week is Know More Media Guest Blogger Week.

Thanks to Easton for the flattering invitation to participate in Know More Media’s Guest Blogger Week. The chance to evangelize on blogs is always one I enjoy.

In another life, I’m a project manager and blog consultant for Blogging Systems, a company that provides turn-key community blog networks for the real estate and lending industries. I also administer Realty Blogging, A Network of Blogging Evangelists Writing on Effective Real Estate Blogging which Blogging Systems hosts.

I’d like to share an email I received from a realtor who was curious about whether or not starting a blog would help their business.

“Really need to get my business off the ground, the fees are killing me. Would a blog help, let me know. Thanks”

The answer is yes, a blog can help your business, but a blog is only as valuable as its blogger's efforts. I can’t imagine you had loads of anxious sellers and buyers banging on your door the day you got your Real Estate license. Just like anything else blogging requires time and effort. If handled with care a blog can be your online voice, a conversation, a unique marketing tool, an edge over your competition and an extension of your brand, but unless you take hold of the reins and steer it properly it won’t be anything but an inert dud. But fear not; there are so many tools and so much information readily available to help you in this new undertaking that success is but an effort away. As a Real Estate agent you’re inherently linked to the people of the community you serve. A blog presents you with an opportunity to reach out to that community and interact in a new fashion, manage customer relations, position yourself as the market expert, extend your brand and increase your online presence.

One challenge I often get from realtors is that they just don’t have the time to blog. Blogging Systems has a wonderful solution to their setback called Community Publisher. Community Publisher is an online, branded, hyper-local “newspaper like” blog hosted by realtors such as Lake County Blog presented by The Crockett Team. The content of the community blog is contributed by local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Education, local charities, etc. and as a result you’ve overcome the time issue. It’s a brilliant way to extend your brand and drive traffic to your website all the while providing an invaluable resource to your local area.

If you’re a Real Estate agent that is serious about their business and are willing and able to invest a little time and effort then I absolutely recommend starting your own blog.

by Chris Bubny
Stewart Mader: Wiki vs. Blog
Note by Easton: Thanks again to Stewart Mader for guest posting here. He also posted on wikis yesterday. This special guest post is part of the Know More Media Guest Blogger Week effort.

In my last post, I made a comparison between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs - not so much to be critical, but to illustrate a point about the online world. "Today" is central to the growth of technology because the tools and services you can use today are the ones that will have the greatest immediate impact on your work. They'll also better prepare you to be agile and adopt the newer, better services available in the future. After my post yesterday, Easton commented to me that, "there's an important connection between blogs and wikis - both offer incredibly easy publishing capabilities. Smart businesses and smart educators will know how to use both to enhance their offerings." This is the perfect segue to today's post, which looks at the distinction between blogs and wikis.

As web communication and collaboration tools evolve, the distinction between them has become subtle at the outset, and greater as the use deepens, like a fork in the road. Blogs and wikis might not seem that different on first glance, because they both enable communication of information by a person or group of people, and provide a platform for feedback. Blogs do it in the form of comments, while wikis do it by letting users directly edit the contents of a given page. This is where the distinction becomes more apparent. For example, businesses are increasingly using wikis to allow users of their products to write documentation, and the result is better, more comprehensive documentation than a product manager or engineer could write. Here are examples from Merlin Systems and Mozilla. A blog wouldn't work as well for this, because direct editing of pages is necessary for users to alter the same text when correcting errors, improving clarity and flow, and adding new information. A blog would be useful for announcing a new product, and the comments feature would allow people to react to the announcement by posting questions, asking for further details, etc. A wiki wouldn't work so well here, because the text of the announcement needs to stay stable in order to communicate accurate information to as many people as possible. The same general principle applies to education - blogs are a better communication tool when you want to get information out to people, and want to enable feedback, but keep the original text intact. Wikis are better when you want information to be touched - and enhanced - by as many hands as possible. Attached to my blog is a wiki documenting uses of wiki in education - see if you're inspired by the ideas already there (many of which apply equally to business), edit them if you like, or contribute new ideas - that's what technology today is all about!

by Stewart Mader

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