Friday, December 19, 2008

Why your blog shouldn't be on your site.


You should have a blog, but putting it on your website is like driving an El Camino. Its not really a car, and its not really a truck and doesn't really perform either task very well.

Like a car and a truck, a website and a blog are two completely different forms of communication. Each has a separate purpose, goals and navigation. You wouldn't put truck tires on a car just like you shouldn't have the same navigation for your site and your blog.

I think the problem is that people get confused and think that the website should be the all inclusive, everything in one place, end destination. The El Camino of internet communication. The truth is there are many places that you can connect with consumers that aren't part of your site. This could include Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Social Networks and many other platforms where people already are communicating and you have an opportunity to participate. Its time to move beyond your website. The key is to understanding the purpose of each form of communication and for this post we will first look at the purpose of your website.

For many websites, the purpose is to provide info about yourself, company or product. Just take a look at your navigation. You will see things like "About US", "OUR Services", "OUR Clients", "OUR Products", "Contact US" and "News (About US)". ME ME ME US US US. And while the site is all about you, its important and necessary. Its where people go to learn about you when they have questions about you. But because people know that you built the site, they understand there is a certain bias in the info that is provided there.

A blog, however, is different. The blog isn't about you. Its about your audience. It should be written for them, and shouldn't talk about you, like your website does. Scott Monty, of Ford, wrote a great post about Taking the "Me" Out of Social Media that's worth a read.

Your blog should be all about your audience including:
  • Things they find interesting
  • Interesting content for them
  • Links they would find interesting
  • Authors they should read (Like me linking to Scott Monty)
  • Events they may want to participate in
Your blog gives you a place to communicate with your audience without them feeling like you are selling to them. It gives you a place to demonstrate what you know and are good at, without sounding like you are talking about yourself and they will respect you for that.

Websites and blogs are two different things. Websites are for you, while blogs are for them(the audience). Don't confuse them, don't combine them and don't drive an El Camino. Step outside and participate beyond limits of your website. There is a whole world out there full of people to communicate with.

Photo Credit Jesse C. Smith

4 comments:

Nicky Jameson said...

This is a good way to differentiate the different functions of a website and a blog. I think they should be separate but link to each other.

I would go even further and say the problem with most websites is the very fact they are "All About Me/Us/Our Company" type sites.

With an increasing number of blogs being used in place of websites, it's going to be key to find a balance.

I personally think websites should be all about the potential customer. Not that they shouldn't be promotional - they should - however they should first and foremost address the key questions a potential customer might have when they visit the site.

Usually those questions have nothing to do with the typical content on a website because customers don't really care about mission statements, vision statements, product descriptions etc, as much as they care about themselves, their problems and whether the company can solve those problems.

Few websites address this, because they are too busy talking about themselves or they are product, rather than customer focused.

I think there should be info about the company (vision, mission, who they are etc)on a site, but subordinate to client focused answers to questions potential clients might ask. It's hard to do that without knowing and focusing on your audience and being able to put yourself in your customer's shoes.

I think you're right about blogs, and in addition I would say there is a lot more freedom with a blog because of the interactivity blogs have that web sites don't.

A blog can evolve according to what the audience and the blogger wants to do. I also think however that there needs to be a balance between being all about the audience and being an enjoyable blogging experience for the blogger - because a blog has (or should have) a personality and passion that needs to come across.

LJ Jones said...

I agree Nicky. Blogs have a certain amount of freedom that lets you adapt and change to better communicate with your audience. They have room to experiment and grow.

I wanted to comment on a Tweet that I received on Twitter from http://twitter.com/factive/status/1067731228. Factive said "I do agree with several of your other points though, just not the one about having a blog on a b logspot vs. own domain". To clarify, I am not necessarily saying your blog should be on Blogspot or Wordpress. You may just want to put it on blog.yourcompany.com. But keep it separate from the site. Make the blog its own thing, with a blog layout and not a site layout. Link to it from the site, just don't put it all under one roof.

Scott Monty said...

Interesting perspective - one with some value. One of the reasons to keep a blog on a corporate web site (or more specifically, within the corporate domain) is because of SEO efforts. The more you update content that's relevant to your site, the better Google juice you'll get, driving people to your site based on relevant search results.

Still, I think your point is well taken that corporate messaging and a more personal-style blog should be clearly distinct.

Scott Monty
Global Digital Communications
Ford Motor Company

Lara Kretler said...

Interesting perspective and I love the El Camino example. Classic!

We've kept our blog and website as one, with the blog leading the way and the "website" portion as static pages in the back. We did it for the exact reason Scott suggests above - SEO power. So far it's working well.

To use an analogy somewhat like yours, keeping the blog and website together is like a reverse mullet. Whereas a mullet is "business in the front and party in the back" I guess you could say our site is party in the front (blog) and business in the back (website).