NOTE: The following is a class assignment for EDTR 606 – Social Media Tools for Training.
Blogging and Microblogging: What Are They?
You may have heard the term “blog” and “microblog,” but what exactly are these tools and how can they help your business? In this post, I’ll demystify blogging and how it can benefit businesses like Central Mortar Industries.
Originally called a “Web-log”, blogs were first introduced in the 90s as virtual diaries; they allowed bloggers to post their thoughts and followers, to comment on them (Giles 2013). A powerful, yet easy tool which requires no technical computer knowledge, blogs have evolved from electronic journals to platforms for voicing dissent, supporting causes, and, unsurprisingly, marketing goods and services.
Although blogs can be put to a variety of uses, purpose is incidental. Connie Crosby (2010) identifies several characteristics which make a blog a blog: frequency of posts, which appear often and in reverse chronological order; time and date stamps; an archive of older posts; a feed for monitoring; and, finally, a commenting function. Indeed, of all the features mentioned above, it is the comment function that serves as “the centerpiece of the interactive processes in a blog”(Blogging 2012).
But what about microblogging? Microblogging is essentially “text messaging on steroids” (Hastings 2010). It is, as its name suggests, a much briefer version of blogging, which allows users to communicate in terse bursts which not only include text but also multimedia items like images, video, and audio.
Social Media: Better Business, Better Employees
Findings from a recent study conducted by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth indicate that among the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., “social media has penetrated parts of the business world at a tremendous speed” (Barnes, Lescault, & Augusto 2014). Compared to 2013, the use of LinkedIn (+6%), Twitter (+5%), FourSquare (+6%), and Instagram (+7%) has increased notably, with 94% of the Inc. 500 companies utilizing LinkedIn. As of 2014, 46% of the Inc. 500 companies and 31% of the Fortune 500 companies were utilizing blogging. So, what’s the appeal? “Ultimately, the Inc. 500 are consistently turning to social media platforms to generate revenue, find new customers, create an identity, and disseminate information” (Barnes, Lescault, & Augusto 2014).
It’s clear that social media can impact your bottom line in a big way when it comes to connecting with clients and increasing sales. One study on microblogging even suggests that through a strategic framework, companies can identify, target, and manipulate valuable opinion holders to maximize the persuasiveness of their messages (Li & Du 2014). But social media can also support increased productivity among your employees. Seeking to understand the role of blogging in salespeople’s learning experiences, Rollins, Nickell, and Wei (2014) discovered that, among other benefits, blogging helped salespeople to accomplish the following: hone the social media skills expected to connect them to clients, identify and avoid ineffective business practices, reconsider resistance to a particular sales technique, reflect on one’s weaknesses at work, and gain greater confidence.
Bingham and Conner (2010) suggest that there are additional benefits to creating and encouraging employees to take part in online communities because they allow knowledge at all levels of the company to be put to use and inform decisions, allow employees to stay up-to-date with company information and technology, provide a safe space for employees to contribute to company conversations, create opportunities for employees to reflect, and build maintain trust (p.40-47).
With so many benefits to blogging and microblogging, the time to jump in and embrace social media is now. In the next post, we’ll cover creating a Twitter account and sending that first Tweet.
Barnes, N.G., Lescault, A.M., & Augusto, K. D. (2014). LinkedIn Dominates, Twitter Trends and Facebook Falls: The 2014 Inc. 500 and Social Media. Retrieved from http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/socialmediaresearch/2015fortune500andsocialmedia/.
Bingham, T., & Conner, M. L. (2010). The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations through social media. Alexandria, Va: ASTD Press.
Blogging. (2012). In V. L. Burton, III (Ed.), Gale E-Commerce Sourcebook (2nd ed., pp. 7-8). Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX4020700015&v=2.1&u=nysl_li_nyinstc&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w&asid=5db19d10d2b55bf4482d6bef87458b10
Crosby, C. (2010). Effective blogging for libraries. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.
Giles, C. (2013). Blogging. In T. Riggs (Ed.), St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 333-334). Detroit: St. James Press. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX2735800295&v=2.1&u=nysl_li_nyinstc&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w&asid=66cc55844c4b02a18f56d752a35ae750
Hastings, R. (2010). Microblogging and lifestreaming in libraries. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.
Li, F., & Du, T. C. (2014). Listen to me — Evaluating the influence of micro-blogs. Decision Support Systems, 62119-130. doi:10.1016/j.dss.2014.03.008
Rollins, M., Nickell, D., & Wei, J. (2014). Understanding salespeople’s learning experiences through blogging: A social learning approach. Industrial Marketing Management, 43(6), 1063-1069. doi:10.1016/j.indmarman.2014.05.019