September 12, 2011
Blogging clearly has arrived and is here to stay, according to the buzzword-slinging set. It’s the “next big thing” or the “wave of the future” – even a “revolution.” Still, most of the people commenting on the blogging trend aren’t sure exactly what it is, how it works or even what the different kinds of blogs are. Blogging already has taken a myriad of forms. Born when dial-up was still the standard, it came of age during the rise of broadband and now its text-based roots are giving way to podcasts and video blogging. To that end, here are a handful of blogging types and what sets them apart from the others.
Type 1 – Classic/Personal
This most basic blog type harkens back to the earliest days of Livejournal. These blogs serve as simple, personal accounts of thoughts and experiences. They’re records of the user’s life, things that interest him or appeal to her. They can record personal journeys both physical and mental, as in the case of blogging an exciting road trip or a reader’s attempt to get through the entire canon of a particular author.
Brand It: The real value of personal blogs is twofold. In our increasingly online culture, people have expressed feelings of isolation and disconnect from society. Thus, the thirst for personal information and details is growing. People want to hear personal stories from folks they are interested in, and these blogs give them a window into the humanity of others. Secondly, personal blogs that persist more than a year or two grow over time, maturing with the author. They change focus and grow more refined as time goes on, allowing the readers to have a sense of growing along with the subject of their reading. Thus, personal blogs can serve to help an established or even a growing brand make a personal connection right with its audience.
Type 2 – The Watchblog
It has been mentioned before, but blogging has some of the greatest potential to undermine corruption and totalitarianism ever seen. During the recent elections in Iran, bloggers brought out stories of abuse and corruption. Bloggers and their quick dissemination of information have exposed stories of police brutality, corporate misconduct and government gaffes overnight. There are entire blogs dedicated to exactly this kind of effort, carrying nothing but stories that expose the indefensible actions of those who cannot abide in a lawful society.
Brand It: The real power of this kind of blog in brand building is in the building up of public trust. Trust is fundamental to all business and branding. If there’s no trust in a brand, people simply won’t buy. Thus, people who expose breaches of this trust gain a certain level of credibility themselves. Similarly, this kind of blog can promote good conduct as well as expose bad conduct, creating a web of trusted providers that becomes mutually validating and prosperous.
Type 3 – Satire and Snark
Laughter is all-powerful. If a man argues with his opponent, he grants that opponent a certain level of respect; obviously the two viewpoints must be equal, or at least commensurate, or there would be no argument. However, if a man can get people to laugh at his opponent, then there need be no argument… ridicule does the work for him. Such is the power of a satirical blog. Whether done through biting and clever writing, simple sarcastic commentary or just posting ridiculous videos of politicians who betray their own ignorance, this kind of blog allows people to laugh at the matters presented and bring out a message by implication rather than overt pounding.
Brand It: One of the most powerful tools available in the world of blogging is the ability to laugh at oneself. People who have a sense of humor about their own failings are often conversely taken quite seriously. Point out a foible or two that popped up in recent meetings. Discuss hilarious absurdities in your industry. Take a famous mistake your advertising department made and have a laugh at it. Harness peoples’ desire to laugh, and you will genuinely have an audience worth keeping.
Type 4 – Interviewing
This is where blogging best shows its roots in classic journalism. An interview with an authority on some subject lends credibility to an article, and builds trust in the publication. As said above, people want to hear what others are thinking; they want that connection with the world around them. Having a more human element, interviews can provide this connection if handled well.
Brand it: The trick with interview-oriented blogs is to keep the material interesting for your audience. If a blog focusing on fashionable apparel were to interview an engineer on the scientific stresses that go into clothing fibers and manufacturing, most of the audience would probably fall asleep. On the other hand, if that same engineer were to explain in simple terms that the use of one fiber allows for thinner thread and thus smaller seams, and show the difference in two fashion photo spreads, that might interest the target audience more.
A Last Thought – It was touched on only briefly, but always remember that the blog is driven by audience expectations as much as by the focus of the brand itself. The brand exists in the mind of the audience or it doesn’t exist, so the blog must reflect that in tone and content. It’s also advisable to pick a type or even mix among the types in order to best capture these expectations, rather than choosing a type based solely on the projections of the brand.
Enzo F. Cesario is an online branding specialist and co-founder of Brandsplat, a digital content agency. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles, videos and social media in the “voice” of our client’s brand. It makes sites more findable and brands more recognizable. For the free Brandcasting Report go to http://www.BrandSplat.com/ or visit our blog at http://www.iBrandCasting.com/