How a Blog Is Like a Virtual Pet

Do you remember the virtual pet fad in the mid to late 90s? Thousands of children (and yes, some adults, too) had keyrings with digital "pets" that required virtual food and virtual care. They got sick, made messes and could even pass into the great digital beyond. (Not to worry; you could reset them back to life.)

Virtual pets faded out of fashion relatively quickly. Because they required constant attention during the day, kids took them to school so they could "care" for them. When the students became distracted during classes, many schools banned them. (Or maybe it was just that teachers got tired of hearing the constant beeping...)

Yet, digital pets were credited with one social good: they demonstrated to some folks that they were just not ready for the responsibilities of owning a real pet. If they couldn't remember to feed, water and play with a fake pet, it seemed unlikely that they'd be more careful with a live one. (And restarting a virtual pet is a lot easier than doing it with a real one.)

Having a blog is much like having a digital pet.

It requires regular attention, and its long-term health is dependent on your diligence, patience and care.

Why should you consider a blog?

  • A blog can help your clients see the personal side of your company. Reading your posts, they can learn about you to see if you're someone they want to work with. And because blogs are generally informal, they tend to allow for more opinion-based content than many forums so you can be more "you."
  • It's a little easier to show off in a blog without sounding boastful (a turnoff in most corporate situations). With your posts, you can casually relate experiences, share about exciting new projects, and demonstrate your expertise without appearing egocentric.
  • From a marketing perspective, blogs are searchable so keywords can help more prospects find you. And since many bloggers post referrals to other blogs, you can benefit from virtual word-of-mouth that reaches far beyond your sphere.

Still interested? Keep these things in mind as you plan for this new addition to your family:

Feed me, Seymour. The best blogs are updated regularly. At a minimum, you should expect to post at least two or three times per week. If you don't have the time yourself and you don't have someone in your organization who's passionate about blogging, you may not be ready to take on this task.

Say what?! If you're going to launch your company into the blogosphere, make sure you have something to say. It's fine to repackage another's thoughts occasionally (assuming, of course, that you attribute it as such), but who wants to read secondhand information? Be authentic by generating original content about your company's culture, philosophy and work. Your readers will be able to tell if you're snowing them.

Go ahead; I'm listening. Remember that the purpose of most blogs is to start a discussion. You want others to respond to your posts...whether they think you're absolutely right or they believe you're a complete loon. Any kind of feedback can be useful if you know what to do with it. Prepare yourself to encounter resistance; not everyone will agree with you, but isn't that what democracy is all about?

Stay tuned! Stay engaged with your audience. If you simply post a blog and walk away, you're missing half the fun. When you start the dialogue, stick around to see what people think about it. Their feedback can also help you become a better blogger; if they miss your point, you may not have been as clear as you could be.

Note: You also want to stay tuned for responses to your posts so you can monitor others' comments. A negative comment that starts a grumbling discontent could require you to put out a fire or effect some damage control.

Act now for this special offer! If you've decided you're ready to blog, remember that you need to promote this service just like any other product or service you offer. Mention it on your company's website, include it in any direct mail pieces or e-blasts, even add it to the signature line of your email. If not, you may find that the only responses to your posts are coming from your coworkers.

It's true that having a blog is a big responsibility, but just like pet ownership it can be rewarding, touching, and hysterically funny. Now press RESET and get blogging!

Next month, join us as we explore the mysteries of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.