What Is A Blog?

What Is A Blog?

The medium of blogging explained....
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Definitions of a blog - the word comes from "WEBLOG"

"a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style"

"a frequently updated website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer"

"a regular feature appearing as part of an online publication that typically relates to a particular topic and consists of articles and personal commentary by one or more authors"

What is micro-blogging? - A blog which has a restricted amount of characters. Think about Twitter or Odyssey - you can only write your messages within a certain number of characters, anything above that you will be cut off or your message will be split into parts.

3 steps of successful blogging

- audience
- purpose
- scope

Your target audience for a blog post really depends upon the type of blog you are trying to create. There are some examples below of just how blogs can be steered toward a specific interest or group of people

  • Food bloggers - people who like to cook will be the audience
  • Fitness bloggers - people who are concerned with their health will be the audience
  • Fashion bloggers - people who are concerned with latest fashion trends will be the audience
  • Business - people who want to stay on top of current affairs, new innovative products, new business strategies will be the audience - this will help with improving employee performance, creating new ideas in the workplace, and help to make companies competitive

The purpose of writing a blog, instead of delivering your message through a different type of medium, is because you can use your authentic voice. Your own voice comes across to the audience and allows them to relate to you, to feel like the message/content is personalized, and it enables an informal conversation. When writing a blog, you are connecting with people who have a specific reason or desire to actually search for your topic - they want to learn more about the subject and you, as the writer, want to teach them.

The scope of a blog refers to the idea that it needs to be broad enough to have discussions for years to come, but narrow enough that there is a distinct focus. There are some examples below that show a good balance between broad and narrow scope.

  • Health industry blog - health/science is always changing and evolving therefore discussion can change and go on for years - but health blogs can have a specific focus such as new medical equipment, gluten intolerance, new discoveries in exercise science
  • Business blogs - there are so many new inventions, new innovative companies, new technologies, new marketing strategies, etc, that allow great flow of discussion through blogging - but to make this a specific and narrow topic, bloggers can zone in on things like new data analysis software, the new SmartFridge from Samsung, or their own company's new and upcoming ad campaign plan

Brainstorming allows people to build off other people’s ideas through researching other blogs and commenting on them Commenting on, interacting with, and reading blogs will allow the audience to gain another perspective on topics they are interested in. You can give tags and labels to your blogs so that your target market can easily access and search for your content in the online community. On certain blog building websites, you can even enter in some ideal phrases people would type into Google if they were looking for your specific topic - "How to write a successful blog" "Why is blogging the best form of communication" "What is blogging?"

How can we connect blogging to market research? Well, when you look at comments on a blog, you can see how customers are reacting to a product. If someone is reviewing a new type of protein shake, and people are commenting on the post saying they are unhappy with it - you will know you need to change something in your product/marketing strategy.There are even “reputation analysts” that monitor comments on blogs for a living and deliver the feedback to businesses. Another way to connect blogging to marketing in general is through the idea of word of mouth marketing - if someone is talking about your product in their blog post, you may find it is persuading a lot of people to buy it and try it for themselves (W.O.M. marketing also one of the best ways to get your information out there - has been proven to be better than traditional marketing, promo events, and even media mentions!)

Blogs can be seen as a form of e-mail replacement because they allow for better flow of conversation through comments - instead of having 60+ emails go back and forth and flooding inboxes. Blogging also allows for people to bounce ideas off of one another through comments, compared to the formal and non conversational email medium. Blogs offer up to date information and are viewed as a faster type of communication which can be helpful in emergencies.

Blogging helps with community building because it connects people with similar interests, allows them to talk and interact and over time develops a community aspect. A successful blog will allow the audience to interact with one another in the comment section. But always make sure to respond to comments openly, honestly, and professionally! The comment section conversations could even hold room much so many brainstorming that new ideas will lead to new discoveries/inventions. Here are some examples of just how blogging comments will lead to a successful flow of conversation and community

  • Blogs about cutting edge software/technology or social issues will allow the audience to discuss opinions or ideas that will hopefully make the community stronger
  • Coca-Cola used feedback from employees on company blog to help build their brand community

So, what about formality? How formal should a blog be? Pretty informal in many cases -try to use a conversational tone and a comfortable, personal writing style. Write according to your audience, because they want to hear from you, not the company. This allows for a more personalized interaction. But be careful - comfortable does not mean careless. Avoid sloppy writing and grammatical errors. Do not post anything you would not want the whole world to see - especially if you are representing a business.

So, why do businesses use blogging as a form of communication?

  • Easy to personalize
  • Authentic voice allows you to become personable with the audience
  • Good way to promote products
  • Big part of social media - important for business today
  • Leads to open conversation - shares/likes/comments - can even go as far as viral videos
  • Large Global aspect - can be reached all over the world
  • Advertising - can be used as a form of advertising as well as placing pop up/digital ads around a specific blog post
  • Can be used for public relations - the face of the company/connecting with customers
  • Needs to be relevant and hold enough information to keep the blog running for years - works for the business world because it is constantly evolving
  • Count yourself as a professional - use this blog as your portfolio
  • Marketing purposes - advertising, marketing research

Some good tips for blogging

1. Plan!

2. Post frequently!

3. Target a specific audience!

4. Write comfortably, but not carelessly!

5. Respond professionally!

6. Have a way for people to search for and find your blog!

7. Always include a comment section!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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If South Carolina Colleges Were Characters From 'The Office'

Who's Jim and who's Meredith?
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"The Office" is one of the best shows on the face of the planet. Don't believe me, you obviously haven't watched it. It has a character for everything, including all of the South Carolina colleges.

The Citadel

This one is probably the easiest. Creed Bratton. Hands down. Military all day every day. No one knows what really goes on behind closed doors, except the people there. Just like Creed's mind.

Coastal Carolina University

Consistently voted one of the top party schools in the nation. #It'snotcollegeit'sCoastal.

Winthrop University

Winthrop is the place for future teachers. We all know that Meredith is the mother/teacher figure in the office, which is kind of scary in and of itself.

Columbia College

Erin just seems like the type of person who would go to an all-female college.

Bob Jones University

At what other school do you see people wearing things that could be from the American Girl large colonial dolls Spring line?

Wofford College

The pearls, Greek Life, and Southern fashion are so real.

Furman University

Let's be real. Pam is a bit of a nerd. But at the end of the day, she does know how to get down. I mean she WAS on the party planning committee. And who doesn't want that Ring By Spring?

College of Charleston

Nard Dog is definitely in an a capella group in Charleston, taking in the city and the history while dressing like a frat star.

Medical University of South Carolina

Andy isn't alone in Charleston. Dwight is down there becoming a doctor. Yes, someone who can save lives and is able to do surgery. Although, who else would you expect to be a doctor?

University of South Carolina

There would be no South Carolina without the University of South Carolina. There would be no office without Michael Scott. The later seasons prove it. They're large and in charge.

Clemson University

While Michael thinks that he runs the office, it's no secret that Jim is the mastermind behind the operation. The office would fall apart without him. I'll just let that sit.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Your Brain Is More Than A Bag of Chemicals

In David Anderson's 2013 Ted Talk, the Caltech professor discusses the downfalls of mental healthcare in our society, opening a discussion to wider societal issues.

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David Anderson, in his Ted Talk "Your Brain is Not a Bag of Chemicals" dives into the world of treatment for psychiatric illnesses, of scientific research, and of fruit flies. His goal, to explain the flaws in current treatments of mental illnesses and present how this downfalls could be resolved is clear throughout the talk. Through presenting his research, and speaking of novel contributions such as the actual discovery of emotion in fruit flies, Anderson displays the flaws in mental healthcare and demands more of the scientific world to resolve these downfalls.

As Anderson explains, the traditional view of mental illnesses is that they are a chemical imbalance in the brain. He states, "As if the brain were some kind of bag of chemical soup filled with dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine." He explains the difference for typical treatments of physical ailments versus psychological ailments. As he describes it, physical ailments presented to a physician will lead to blood tests, biological assays, and various other factors to gather information about what is going on in the body so that a treatment plan can be well-suited to that issue. However, for psychological problems, the patient is often handed a questionnaire to assess the issues. These questionnaires, as he suggests, are insufficient in understanding the complexities that surround mental illnesses.

Of medication prescribed for mental illnesses, Anderson states, "These drugs have so many side effects because using them to treat a complex psychiatric disorder is a bit like trying to change your engine oil by opening a can and pouring it all over the engine block. Some of it will dribble into the right place, but a lot of it will do more harm than good." Anderson uses the example of dopamine and the model organism of fruit flies to explain this concept. He explains how in certain illnesses, such as ADHD, there is not a complete understanding of why there are features of learning disabilities and hyperactivity. Without this understanding, the treatment of just increasing the amount of dopamine in one's system is lacking.

Anderson suggests that pharmaceutical companies and scientists should do more research to not only discover the disturbances of neural pathways, which tend to be the real cause of mental illnesses, but to also develop new medications that attempt to resolve these specific pathways and specific receptors, rather than simply increasing the amount of a certain neurochemical. These new medications could and do revolutionize the way that mental illnesses are treated, and the efficacy in their treatment.

As a society, there is a general view of mental illnesses that varies greatly from the view of physical illnesses. Anderson, without directly discussing it, acknowledges this exact problem. He discusses the differences in treatments, but also the lack of resources that are put in to truly understand how to better treat mental illnesses as disturbances in neurophysiological components. Without, as a society, acknowledging and respecting mental illnesses for what they are, we are short-changing the 25% of the world who is directly impacted by these illnesses, and the countless loved ones who stand by those impacted. A shift needs to occur, and the research and ideas that Anderson presents are a wonderful scientific starting point for these shifts. However, if we as a society do not support the principles behind this science, do not support the concept that mental illness is much more than just being a little emotionally reactive, we are doing a disservice to the majority of the population.

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