Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Interactive promotion report: blogging

[Tags: , , , ]. Esme Arora looks at:

Blogging, Podcasts, vodcasts and RSS

Blogs

A weblog (blog) is a web application, which range in scope from individual diaries to arms of political campaigns, media programs and corporations. Either an individual or a large group of writers can publish blogs. Many blogs enable visitors to leave their own comments, which can lead to a community of readers centred on the blog.

There are thousands of blogs on the Internet, some generating news or influencing events.

The format of blogs varies, from simple bullet point lists, to article summaries or complete articles. Individual blog entries are almost always structured in the same way, with the newest post at the top of the page and the readers’ comments appearing below it. The individual or whosoever blog it may be, needs to ensure that they update the blog on a regular basis, if one is to keep readership.

Advantages of reading and publishing blogs

There are many reasons why individuals feel that having a blog is beneficial:

1. Anyone (author of blog or visitor) can write anything at any time.

2. An individual’s way to speak out and get their voice heard.

3. A chance to hear what other people have to say in response to your own personal views on a topic.

Many organisations also see advantages in having a blog:

1. They are an excellent way of sharing knowledge within an organisation

2. Blogs are a low cost and fast publishing tool for any organisation.

3. An excellent way to maintain a stream of news from the organisation.

4. Blogs can be a positive way of getting feedback

5. Allows employees and marketers to post messages updating companies’ developments, and thus, serve as a useful PR tool.

6. The consumer and the organisation itself are potentially better informed, which is good in the long run.

As with anything, where there is good, there is bad. Although there are not many disadvantages in having a blog, the following are a few downsides in having one:

1. For an organisation to have a successful blog, they need to ensure that all the parties involved use the blog.

2. Must write down thoughts/ideas in a compelling and clear manner, because the thoughts in your head may come out different when written.

3. Blogs are easy to start, but hard to maintain.

4. They take up time.

Where to find blogs

Finding a blog on the Internet is simple and straightforward, this can be done either by searching for blogs on google or other search engines, or there are certain websites where one can find blogs. www.blogfinder.com and http://blogdex.media.mit.edu are just a couple of the many blog finders on the Internet.

Example of a blog

The most recent example of a blog is “the biggest blog in history” http://www.channel4.com/news/special-reports/special-reports-storypage.jsp?id=3621 . This has been in the news during the week, as History Matters have been asking people all over the country to post a diary on the Internet of how they lived on the day of 17th October 2006. The idea is that this mass blog will be a record which future generations can look at and see what their ancestors got up to in mid October.

Behaviour change from this :

This plan is a really good idea as it is aimed at people of all ages around the country, and encourages them to speak up and be heard. For people to write about themselves and their day can be seen as a behavioural change because talking about such things are personal to the individual and it is not something that they would normally take part in.

Factors to be taken into consideration with this particular blog

What needs to be taken into consideration when carrying out an exercise such as this is that many people may not give true accounts of what happened during their day, as they would want to make their addition to the blog sound interesting and different.

More examples of blogs

Blogs that I found useful were the ones on Ebay. It is like an online community, and the blogs are very informative as many are about the activities of Ebayers, and the products that they buy and sell. The blogs are aimed at a specific audience, which are the people who use Ebay on a regular basis, and potential Ebay users who want to get a feel for what Ebay is like, by hearing other people’s views.

By posting comments on the blog, it can be said that this increases the chance of people spending more money as they see products for sale in the blog that they may not have been looking to buy originally.

An individual blog such as ‘Donna’s online diary’ at www.grooveonit.blogspot.com is how the traditional blogs were structured.

This type of blog is aimed towards an audience who are interested in other people’s lives, or who are intrigued to see others who share their interests. When there are common interests between the author of the blog and the visitor, the visitor might want to leave feedback/comments.

‘Pro-Wal-Mart Travel blog screeches to a halt’ is a prime example of an unsuccessful blog. Business Week exposed the site as a promotional tactic engineered by Working families for Wal-mart (WFWM).

The main reason this blog wasn’t successful is because “everyone involved violated the basic rule: Be transparent. If you’re found out, it comes back as a slap in the face.”

Reports on Blogs

In April, the Guardian carried out a special report on weblogs, ‘Bloggers remain in a minority’.

The report suggests that according to new research, even though people have become more aware of blogging, this has not resulted into more people writing or regularly reading blogs.

To have a successful campaign, it is vital that there is enough/consistent media coverage on blogging to increase awareness and also a tool to remind people about blogs, the advantages of reading and publishing them, and where to locate certain blogs.

Also what needs to be taken into further consideration is that if one is publishing blogs, they need to ensure that the blog they write is relevant and shares a common interest with other people, also to make sure that the blog is user friendly in the way it reads and is presented.

Research/Report on Blogs and Podcasts

According to a new study in July, downloading podcasts have become more popular than blogging. A report written by Kevin Newcomb on http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3619616 illustrates that more people have been downloading podcasts lately than the amount of people who have published a blog.

“Podcast listeners skew younger, with Web users between the ages of 18-24 nearly twice as likely as the average Web user to download audio podcasts.”

“The portability of podcasts makes them especially appealing to young, on-the-go audiences”

Podcasts are very recent in comparison to how long Blogs have been around. This shows that it may be because of advertising in the sense that podcasts are mainly aimed at the younger generation, and so advertising has made people aware of podcasts to the extent that in such a short space of time, a vast amount of people are downloading them.

Blogging is slightly more difficult to reach out to people because blogs in general are aimed at everyone, and so it is difficult to make everyone aware of blogs.

In order to have a successful campaign, the main issue here is advertising to reach out to the target market. Blogging is a cheaper way of advertising to reach out to the audience and therefore is not as popular as podcasts.

Podcasts/Video Podcasts (Vodcasts)/RSS

Podcasts are the publishing of audio files via the Internet, which are designed to be downloaded and then listened to on a portable music player. E.g. iPod, mp3 player.

Vodcasts are simply the same as podcasts, except they are video files.

RSS is related to podcasts/vodcasts because it is a format for delivering the changes of web content. Once each item is in RSS format, an RSS aware program can check the feed for changes and react to the changes in an appropriate way.

RSS, also known as feeds, allow you to see when websites have added new content. You can get the latest headlines and video in one place, as soon as it’s published, without having to visit the websites you have taken the feed from. ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/3223484.stm )

Advantages of Podcasts:

There are many advantages of podcast marketing:

1. Regular podcast programming can draw a repeat audience.

2. Very low cost

3. Attracts search engine traffic

4. Podcasts are relatively easy to make

5. Podcast marketing or training files can be posted on a Web site, and they can also be distributed using RSS technology, ensuring a wider reach.

The main advantages of podcasts are:

1. The ability to subscribe

2. The ability to download the file to your computer, and

3. The portability of being able to put the audio onto a portable device, such as an iPod, and listen whenever you want.

Disadvantages of Podcasts:

The following are a few disadvantages of downloading podcasts:

1. Computers need sufficient bandwidth for downloading the mp3 audio files.

2. Podcasting is not designed for two-way interaction or audience participation.

3. Amateur podcasts do not have the same quality as professional broadcasts.

4. Some initial training is needed.

As video podcasts (vodcasts) are podcasts with video files, the main principles of both are the same, there aren’t any differences in downloading them and the advantages and disadvantages of them are practically the same.

Examples of Podcasts/Vodcasts

A really good example of podcasts/vodcasts is on www.news.bbc.co.uk/newsnight

On their website, Newsnight audio and video podcasts appear weekly featuring the best of the programmes interviews, reports and discussions.

This idea of downloading podcasts/vodcasts of Newsnight programmes is great because all of the viewers of Newsnight don’t always have the opportunity to watch every Newsnight programme and the podcasts give the viewer a chance to watch what they had missed.

This is particularly aimed at viewers of Newsnight or people who are interested in watching the news but may not have time to, in which case they could download the podcast and watch the ‘best bits’ on the train, bus etc.

The ability now to download podcasts, may result in a behavioural change of the viewers, as they may not bother to watch the programme as regularly as they may previously have done because they know they can just download podcasts and watch it.

A university is currently conducting some research on the topic of vodcasts. The university is the first with video podcast news. The programme about electronics and computer science is available on their website.

“We can take video from any source and enable lectures and students alike to create a video, either of a lecture, a seminar, or to record an experiment or expectation.”

“The great benefit is that this can be downloaded to be watched or listened to at any time or place.”

The research will contribute to a way of helping the student’s revision, as it is another method of learning. I.e. visually.

Report on Blogs and Podcasts

Following the resignation of Charles Kennedy who confessed to having an alcohol problem, the Liberal Democratics were in search for a new leader. The three short listed candidates were Simon Hughes, Sir Menzies Campbell and Chris Huhne. All three used similar approaches of campaigning, some opting in favour more to one area than others. The main areas being e-mail, podcasts, vodcasts and blogs. Sir Menzies Campbell, who was eventually the successful candidate had the content on his website continuously updated therefore meaning the information posted was most recent and relevant. Regular podcasts, vodcasts and blogs enabled visitors of the website to keep up to date with his campaign and his manifesto. Blogging was taken most seriously and this is the information that was most commonly visited as users on http://campbellcampaign.org used google maps to track his progress throughout the country and podcasts/vodcasts and blogs to highlight his following in those areas. The reason his campaign was successful was because he used different mediums to communicate with party members targeting amateur users but also those more experienced and comfortable with technology. Such was not the case with the members that only used one or two of those mediums therefore highlighting the point that pluralizing the methods leads to greater success in a campaign.

Summary

In conclusion to the above reports, research and articles about blogging, podcasts and vodcasts, we can see just how much technology has modernised. Different mediums have made us aware of these latest advances that keeps a lot of us up to speed. The use of blogs, podcasts and vodcasts being used in campaigns (e.g. the Liberal Democrats campaign mentioned earlier) shows how popular they have become. Of course, as well as having advantages in using these methods, there are several disadvantages, but that is with anything, and it only tells us that there are many more advanced technologies still to come our way in the future.

References

Internet Sites:

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/libdems/story/0,,1719183,00.html

http://www.corporateblogging.info/

http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3619616

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/5204778.stm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2006/10/newsnight_podcasts.html

http://www.marketingterms.com/dictionary/blog/

http://kierenmccarthy.co.uk/2006/03/15/are-blogs-now-more-powerful-than-newspapers/

http://www.internetsafetyzone.co.uk/root/Parents/icc/ 01a_Blogging?? /

http://www.channel4.com/news/special-reports/special-reports-storypage.jsp?id=3621

http://gilbane.com/gilbane_report.pl/104/Blogs Wikis_Technologies_for_Enterprise_Applications?? .html

http://publications.mediapost.com

http://technology.guardian.co.uk/online/weblogs/story/0,,1757426,00.html

http://www.sundayherald.com/57781

http://blog.rssapplied.com/public/blog/90739

http://www.scpr.org/help/podcasthelp.html

http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/ictineducation/connected/connected15/ictinpractice/podcastshelp.asp

http://www.whatisrss.com/

http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/12/18/dive-into-xml.html

http://www.marketingterms.com/dictionary/blog/

http://www.electronicstalk.com/news/unv/unv104.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/3223484.stm

Bibliography:

RODZVILLA, JOHN 2002, We’ve got blog: how weblogs are changing our culture Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing

BLOOD, REBECCA 2002, The weblog handbook: practical advice on creating and maintaining your blog Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing

10 Comments:

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