In recent years, blogging has progressed from a means for teenage girls to share their innermost thoughts with the world to a powerful 2-way communication and promotion channel of great utility to astute businesses, politicians, marketers and, yes, still teenagers.
I emphasize the ‘2-way communication’ aspect of it. We expect a certain level of interactivity with our web experience these days. Also with our television viewing (TIVO), our sports-watching (fantasy leagues), and our product-buying (Nike’s build-your-own-sneakers program, Levi’s custom jeans program).
The beauty of the blog concept is that a) it’s easy for anyone to do, and b) when done right, it creates a continually expanding network of knowledge. I post something, someone responds, I answer back, someone on another blog picks up on it and links to my post. Multiply by 10 million posts and you have a continuous string of knowledge and thought which circumvents national and geographic borders.
A marketer should never lose sight of the 5 most important letters in the world: WIIFM– What’s in it for me? Because really, that’s the driver behind this self-expanding blog network. People go to the trouble of linking and commenting only partly because they want to share their wisdom. The other part of it is self-interest, because through the act of participating in YOUR blog, they build traffic to THEIR blog. What a great system.
But what happens when the chain gets cut? In browsing around, I find increasing numbers of sites which don’t provide backlinks to commenters and trackbackers. In some cases, they may not even allow comments or trackbacks. This strikes me as a gross misunderstanding of what blogging is all about (at best), and a brazen attempt to profit off the community’s efforts without contributing back (at worst).
I suppose everyone has heard (at least in concept) of Metcalfe’s law- the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of nodes or people in the network. If you think about what incentive all those people have to connect with one another, you come down to a) the good of the collective as a whole and b) their own self interest. One thing we know is that people appreciate things done for the good of the collective, but they are rarely willing to put much effort into it themselves, unless the other incentive kicks in - it’s in their own self interest. WIIFM.
So in other words, open up your blog so that you and blog society may prosper. Now go forth and multiply nodes.
And feel free to comment or trackback, you’ll get a link out of it. That’s what is in it for you.