Blahg Blahg Blahg Blahg-I’m sick of hearing about Blahgs!

It is truly fun to see the mini-firestorm of discussion that this meme of “to blog or not to blog” has generated. (Trey Reeme guesting on CUES Skybox, Tim McAlpine – Currency Marketing, Ron “the Shevlinator” Shevlin, Gene Blishen – Tinfoiling, Currency Marketing again, CU Skeptic, Lisa Hochgraf – Nexus Connection, and right here)

To all of this, I further say, “You are mostly likely already blogging, you just don’t know it.”

To understand why, let’s start by breaking down exactly what a blog is.

At it’s simplest, a blog is simply a web log. (web log = blog. get it?) When my son was born at the very end of 1998, I wanted to post pictures of him online for my family, spread out all over the country, to see. Neither Flickr nor blogging had been popularized yet. So I dutifully uploaded pages and wrote html code in Adobe GoLive. This got complicated when new pictures required new pages, and then they needed to be linked back to older pages. In fact, it grew so wearily tiresome that I stopped this whole effort after about a year and a half. And I couldn’t tell if my family was even paying any attention.

Fortunately, some sharp people realized that they were not the only ones having this kind of dilemma. The need for easily updateable sequential web pages was readily apparent, and the concept of blogging really started to pick up steam with early adoptors in 2003-04 (though blogging goes back even earlier.)

So at it’s simplest, that is what a blog is…. a web site where adding new content is a snap.

Over the last many years, blogging has come to mean much more than that. Bloggers realized the value of communicating with others, and comments on new entries were introduced. Building on that idea, trackbacks were born, which let bloggers know when other bloggers wrote about their blog. This enabled good and/or hot content and ideas to be spread far and wide rapidly.

Here are some CU examples of web pages which may as well be a blog. These pages have all the aspects of a blog, without any of the ease, convenience, or connectedness of a blog.
Mountain America CU Press Releases
Tracy CU What’s New
UFirst FCU Community page
UW CU Press Release Library
Meijer CU Community Activities

And this list is just right off the top of a couple web searches. Nearly EVERY web site could benefit from having at least some of it’s content bloggified.

To be fair, blogging has come to mean far more than simply making serial content available. When most people say blogging, they are talking about holding conversations out in the open, with the potential for the entire online public to be watching. While I think that all credit unions ought to embrace talking with their member/owners, those that are reluctant to do that can, at the very least, dip their toes in the water by making the articles of their newsletters available in blog format. For the very faint of heart, this could even be done with comments disabled.

But wait a minute, as a credit union, don’t you WANT to hear back from your members? Don’t you want to better know how you can serve them? Or is being member-owned merely words on paper to avoid being taxed? Why don’t you want to make member-owned mean more than that? I mean, all savvy FOR-PROFIT businesses want to get feedback from their customers, so that they can serve them better. Why wouldn’t a not-for-profit cooperative want to embrace that kind of feedback even more so than a for-profit company? You’ve got double the incentive…. both from the customer aspect of the relationship as well as the owner aspect of the relationship.

Let’s also look at a couple of companies that realize fresh content is king and made a blog the centerpiece of their web site. The first that comes to mind is Tom Peters, and for a CU example, look no further than the Filene Research Institute.

Bottom line – you are already blogging, you just didn’t know it. May as well use the right tools for the job that will simply your life and make it easier.

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4 Responses to “Blahg Blahg Blahg Blahg-I’m sick of hearing about Blahgs!”

  1. Andy Says:

    Blogging has this stigma attached to it of touchy-feelly personal content. Its just software, it can be used for whatever you chose.

    Its such a pain to update content on a traditional HTML site. For that reason, our website at MSCU doesn’t get updated much. With the inclusion of blogging software, you can update the site in a split second. It can be done in house, no need to call the web designer to have them update the page, just write, click, and post.

    Why all businesses aren’t using blogging software to update the news on their front page is beyond me.

    Holding conversations is the key to being a good business, regardless of industry. We should all be welcoming and embracing feedback (even if its bad) not shying away, afraid of what the public will say. Thats a sure fire way to wind up dead in the water. If you aren’t offering what your membership wants and you are so afraid of their negative feedback that you ignore it…how are you ever going to meet their needs?

  2. jebworks Says:

    I’ve been following this from the sidelines but thought I chime in.

    For any business planning to start using web 2.0 tools, including blogging, I recommend a visit to Seth Godin’s Lens on Squidoo http://www.squidoo.com/meatballsundae or read his latest book “Meatball Sundae”.

    Seth is one of the most experienced and innovative marketers who has worked with the web since the earliest days and a guy who knows what he’s talking about.

    Here’s a short excerpt from the introduction:

    What’s a meatball sundae?

    Maybe this is familiar. It is to me, anyway:

    You go to a marketing meeting. There’s a presentation from the new Internet marketing guy. He’s brought a fancy (and expensive) blogging consultant with him. She starts talking about how blogs and the ‘Web 2.0 social media infrastructure’ are just waiting for your company to dive in. ‘Try this stuff,’ she seems to be saying, ‘and the rest of your competitive/structural/profit issues will disappear.'”

    So, just grafting these new tools onto your organization is a recipe for disaster. The risk of cognitive dissonance by your customers is great.

    This is not really new, the same was true when websites first appeared on the scene about over a decade ago and most executives – after first ignoring the web, and some strangely still do! – thought that having a site would be a panacea for all their marketing problems. After huge amounts of wasted money and time, they now know how wrong that assumption was.

    The corporate culture and the brand have to be consistent to be believable and communications need to be consistent across all channels and touch-points to be credible. There are no shortcuts to success.

  3. Lisa Hochgraf Says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about how the password-protected commmunities, such as your Web one and our CUES Net listserve, affect blogging. In some ways I think why would anyone post publicly when they could just participate with a great group behind a screen? Does the activity in our password-protected forums slow people down from blogging? I’d hate to see blogs lose their friendly and fast to publish nature. But I think you have a point that it doesn’t have be so “personal” to be a good conversation.

  4. Morriss Partee Says:

    @Lisa – there are definitely time and place for both public and private conversation. Each has a purpose. And that’s even an entirely additional topic.

    @jebworks – nice. Those thoughts are likely what spurred Ron Shevlin to discuss marketing mix here. Sometimes it takes leaping far off the diving board to get “status quo” thinking to dip even a pinky toe into the new waters. I thought that I entered the blogging world very late in the game in December of 2005. It’s actually been around since 1998-99. Back then, I couldn’t really see the value in blogging for credit unions. But Shari Storm at Verity CU and Ginny Brady with the Boardcast opened my eyes. I’m just trying to jump up and down so that people who want to be in the vanguard have the opportunity, rather than being a “me too” down the road.

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