Blogs provide a powerful publishing platform, while social
media tools facilitate broad awareness and engagement. Blogs are by no means
dead, but the best use of blogging tools has changed. If you’ve built up an
active community around a blogging platform, such as Blogger, I suggest you
keep it going. But to understand how – and why – blogs changed, it helps if you
know a bit of history.

A history of the social web in fewer than 150 words

Once upon a time (1989 for those of you seeking historical accuracy),
Tim Berners-Lee created web pages. People loved web pages and made lots of
them. Web pages grew into websites.

Many people wanted to read the newest information first and
to comment on what they read. Websites evolved into weblogs by the early 2000s,
where people wrote posts and comments. (Blogs were so popular that people
transformed a noun into a verb: “a blog” became “to blog”.)

By 2013, social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
achieved wide adoption
and more than half of the adults in the United Stated owned a
. People now share “nuggets” of information
(e.g., photos, status updates, short videos, links, and/or location info) to
these social networks using smartphones. Social tools also enable private
discussions, within companies or among collaborating groups.

Like blogs, has changed over the years, but
still retains some fundamental features. The Google tool remains free to use, doesn’t require you to display ads, and also lets you
remove the Blogger-branded title bar. Blogger offers several themes from which
to choose, although you may also customize the site’s look by hand – editing
HTML or CSS. Some of the themes adapt well to mobile devices. Blogger also
supports permanent Pages in addition to blog Posts.

No matter what blogging platform you choose for your
organization, there are some basic best practices to keep in mind.

Tips for organizational blogs today

Tip 1: Provide authoritative info

Blogs today are best used by organizations to provide
authoritative information about products and services, and their effective use.
Social networking tools are best used by organizations to raise awareness,
respond to inquiries, and engage in discussion.

For example, Google blog posts typically are one of four

Tip 2: Segment blogs by audience interests

Make sure your posts focus on information relevant to the
user: what might be relevant for one audience
might only confuse another. For example, the Google
Developers blog
provides information for a highly technical
audience, while the Google Drive blog tends to provide more
user-oriented information. Sometimes cross-posting information to multiple
blogs is acceptable, as Google did with the post “An improved DevTools
editing workflow”, which was posted to the Developer and Chromium blogs.

You can map individual blogs to their own unique
domain: and could map to
blogs for each project, respectively. Google provides support pages that walk you through the
process to map your domains

Tip 3: Blog posts are the new press release

You shouldn’t send press releases anymore: you should
publish a blog post, then promote it using social media. (I’ll concede that you
still need to maintain an opt-in email distribution list.) You can create
Blogger posts from the web, or from Android or iOS apps. And, you can provide
links to any related files shared publicly, such as photos or PDFs stored on
Google Drive.

Tip 4: Comments are optional

Originally, blogs were all about discussion. But with the
advent of social networks, more folks are turning comments off. It may sound a
bit odd to do that, but the logic is sound: social media tools are for
engaging, blogs are more about publishing. Matt Gemmell had a nice write up
about this, titled “Comments
“, in which he encourages people to write replies on their
own blog or respond via Twitter. (Blogger provides controls that let you disable comments,
either for the entire blog, or on individual posts.)

Comments are where the integration of Blogger and Google+
gets interesting. By linking the Blogger account to Google+ Comments, you get
the best of both worlds: the post remains authoritative, while the Google+
social network enables discussion. For example, the July 24, 2013, Chromecast
announcement was posted to Google’s blog, with all the discussion occurring via
people’s Google+ accounts

The right tool for publishing? Discussion?

The next time you hear people calling blogs dead, pull out
this post and point to Google’s use of blogs. Create a blog for a product line
Use a blog post to share product info or replace an old-fashioned press

Tell me how you think the role of blogs has changed by
commenting below, or sharing and commenting on this post on Google+ or Twitter.