Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What makes you a blogger?

Does having a blog make you a blogger?

On the surface of it anyone would say "yes." But let me rephrase the question. Does having Microsoft Word on your computer make you a writer? Does having a digital camera make you a good photographer?

Sure, you can fire off the occasional good picture and those snapshots from your last vacation look great, but are you up there with Eisenstaedt? Do the pictures you took on your tour of the national parks look anything like Adams'? Are you good enough to have a byline in the New York Times? Can you write the Great American Novel?

Of course you'd answer "no" to these questions. So then why do people believe that having a blog address makes them a blogger? Because for now, it does. It just doesn't make them a good blogger.

This is part of what we discussed at the Blog Business Summit, that a blogger is part writer, part marketer, part designer, maybe even a little crazy. But to me it's more than that.

A writer must know how to spin a good yarn, let a bit of personality come through, and have a thick skin. If it's a business blogger, that person must understand enough about marketing to ensure that the corporate message is getting across, but not smacking people over the head.

A blog can easily fall victim to becoming just piece of marketing collateral, but it should be much more than that. When done correctly it can be a place for debate, a place to extend the corporate vision and a place to test the waters.

But I fear that a lot of executives are going to try it out without understanding how to measure success or without having the right guidance or tools, then they'll turn to their Corporate Communications people and dismiss the exercise as a waste of time.

I just hope people take the time to do it right the first time, know their limitations and ask for help. They don't have to be Hemingway or Faulkner, but understanding how to make the story work is certainly a requirement for success.

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