Electronic Campfires



One of the more fascinating things about the Internet is that there is
something new happening there all the time-very much like a country carnival.
And this happens not because of a planned effort, but precisely the reverse of
that. Plans by their inherent nature limit possibilities. On the net there is no
plan; so the possibilities are endless. I do not know who first wrote his or her
diary on the net, but these web logs quickly caught on as yet another way to
share thoughts and ideas. The name quickly changed to Blog-and bloggers in the
thousands quickly appeared on the scene. Many bloggers kept their diaries as
their own-did not open them up for others to add comments. Others decided that
just pasting up thoughts is not enough and they allowed comments from others.
And the blog site started becoming a kind of discussion board. This led to
formation of communities of intense and involved people who spend hours browsing
and exchanging information and ideas.

That is the strength of blogs. People do not go to them to quickly check the
news or get an update or even research. They go they because they actually want
to be there and therefore spend quality time. They are passionate about the
subjects that are presented. They want to tell their stories and read about
others. Blogs are electronic campfires. And what you hear at a campfire stays
with you a lot longer than what you hear at a seminar. And since blogs are
dynamic content-as opposed to many websites that are static- there is a
strong reason to revisit them frequently. Conceptually at least, blogs should
have a very following of loyal visitors.

Shyam MalhotrA
As per research company Technorati there are some 2.5 million blogs worldwide with another 10,000 getting added daily

And that is why they have now attracted the eye of marketing professionals.
Can these communities be used to make a marketing pitch? As per research company
Technorati there are some 2.5 million blogs worldwide with another 10,000
getting added daily. That is a huge number of places where marketing can
flourish.

Marketing through blogs can be done in many ways. The traditional ads can be
put on. So we have Nike using pop blog Gawker to promote short films entitled
“Art of Speed”. They are available through a branded button site.
Gawker is said to get over 500,000 unique visitors each month.

There are more seductive ways of marketing through blogs also available. Can
a discussion be initiated on a new product? So that the word is spread around. A
brand new tool is now available for spreading the word around. And there is data
to suggest that blogs get huge response. Instapundit.com reports 300 emails a
day. Janegalt.com claims 50 comments per post. Obviously people are reading the
stuff and responding. They are also sending it around to friends and posting
stuff on other sites.

Can a marketer set up his own blog site? Something where visitors would
discuss and exchange ideas on subjects of interest to the marketer. All this
makes the blog a great medium for the small and medium advertiser. The
traditional vehicles are dominated by the big bucks messages. There is no way a
small budget can achieve meaningful results. So the much cheaper places with
committed audiences are a real answer. Provided they can be found and used.

Are there places that Indian companies can use? There are ‘Indian’ blogs.
But not in huge numbers. However, that is reason to believe that Indians do not
visit international sites. The trouble is that it is difficult to find sites.
But it is a thought certainly worth exploring. Not that there are no other
issues. Advertising can take away the objecting blogs.

These are early days for this relatively new marketing option. Will this
evolve into a unique offering? Or will it die out? Will it be used sensitively
and nurtured? Or will it be exploited the way email has been—to a level that
the medium is under question as a marketing option. The jury is out. Maybe the
jury has not even been named as yet. But blogs do promise an exciting new
information exchange mechanism and as a corollary a possible marketing media.
Expect to hear much more about them in times to come.

The author is Editor-in-Chief of CyberMedia, the publishers of Dataquest
(with inputs from Saswati Sinha) He can be reached at Shyam
MalhotrA

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