Came across a very useful blog post the other day, written by Jeremiah Owyang of Social Media and titled “Understanding the difference between Forums, Blogs, and Social Networks”.
As a freelance blog content writer and corporate blogging trainer, I agree with Owyang that there’s a lot of confusion out there about what distinguishes blogs from other social networking tools.
Backtrack a bit: Social media, as defined by ESCP Europe Business School marketing professor Andreas Marcus, consists of “a group of Internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”
But, with so many platforms out there, it’s easy to get the tools mixed up, says Owyang. Forums, he explains, are like social mixers, where everyone mills about and discusses things with others. Social networks, in contrast, are like topic tables at a conference luncheon. People connect through common interests and share information.
Owyang compares blogs, on the other hand, to keynote speeches. (As a longtime member of the National Speakers Association, I can relate to that comparison.) The blogger is in control of the discussion, but allows questions and comments from the audience. Blogs, he adds, are journals often authored by one individual or by a team, used to talk with the marketplace.
Why do I find the Owyang blog post particularly informative for business owners and professional practitioners (and of course for us content writers telling their stories)?
“It’s important to know the many different tools in your tool chest as every type of accessory fulfills a different need. Before you jump to tools, you should first understand who your community is, where they are, how they use social technologies, and most importantly, what they’re talking about.”
Yasmin Bendror of Marketing Matters sums up the topic in this potent paragraph:
“It’s obvious that social media will continue to have a significant impact in 2014 on marketers and business owners: They now have the ability to reach out and communicate on a personal level with their target audience on a daily basis. This is a game changer for businesses engaging in marketing, sales, customer service and other business activities.
At Say It For You in Indianapolis, we couldn’t agree more!