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Joining The Conversation

Brand marketing is all about enhancing the mindshare of one's products or services. The aim is for your brand name to be at the top of the consumer's mind at the mere mention of generic terms relating to your company's services. Arguably the best way of keeping that mindshare is by having a constant presence where your customers are. In this day and age of electronic commerce, there's no better place to turn to than the World Wide Web.

Markets are conversations, so it is said. And the Web is perhaps the biggest conversation taking place, with exchanges of information going about the world in lightning speed, as people please-whether they be in email messages, forums, chats, or blogs. How people talk about your brand on the Web can make or break your reputation as a company, or your brand's reputation as a product or service.

This is where blogs come in handy. The advent of the so-called Web 2.0 ushered in a concept previously unheard of in media and related industries-the massive democratization of content. Web 2.0, among other things, basically lets the consumers of information become the creators of content themselves. The Web is moving away from content with central editorial control, such as newspapers and magazines. Today's most popular websites are not those controlled by one central group, but include mostly community- and enduser-managed sites, such as Wikipedia and DIGG.com.

Blogs let any individual or group join in on the big conversation. You write about anything online, and someone will eventually read your posts. That person can choose to talk back, and if so, a conversation is started. What's great is that this conversation is open to the public, and anyone can join in or at least read what's been going on.

In starting a blog, you can talk about your company's services, or about the industry you are presently in. It would be fantastic for people to read what you write, and to respond by writing on their own blogs, or commenting on yours. You now have a direct line to your consumer-base. Isn't that great? You are now able to get a feel of what the consumer wants. What's more, your presence on the Web boosts recognition of your brand.

Consider adding more people to your army of bloggers-employees, partners, clients (or even hired freelancers), and the effect is multiplied. Your company is no longer represented by a stone-cold establishment. Your brand is represented by names, by faces-that of bloggers!

One notable success story in a "brand" blogging endeavor is Microsoft, the software giant considered by many people to be the "evil empire."  For so long, Microsoft has been the epitome of the stone-cold establishment. It had no human face, save for key persons like Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer-executives and officers whom people don't really know. Microsoft's brand name had also been suffering because of anti-trust lawsuits being filed here and there. Something had to be done, or Microsoft's brand might be further associated with "evil."

In its desire to shift away from all this, Microsoft, in 2004, decided to let employees blog publicly-about their work, about technology trends, about anything under the sun. One mid-level manager by the name of Robert Scoble, stood out, with his profound views and innovative ideas on technology. He was able to successfully communicate with the rest of the world about the inner workings of his company, and along the way dispelling myths about the company.  He is now considered to be the persona of Microsoft in the blogosphere. Blogging has now become part of his job description. He is also one of the world's most popular blogging personalities.

Any business enterprise-no matter how big or small-can use blogs to the advantage of their brand. Whether you're a startup needing exposure, or you're an established company that wants to better relate to shed its stone-cold façade in favor of a more human approach to doing business, blogging will definitely help your brand go a long way.


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