I’ve been writing a book on social networking lately – out in October, thanks for asking, called This Is Social Media, and inevitably one of the things under discussion is blogging. There’s a debate about the best way to blog; you can host it yourself or you can use something installed onto your PC. Windows Live Writer is a pretty good mid-point between the two, you have a full-blown WYSIWYG editor on your desktop so you might as well be blogging live.

That’s not what really concerns me about blogging, though. As I looked further into the amount of blogs online – and there are many – it occurred to me that there are all too many which are there for the sake of blogging. Blogging because you can, or worse, blogging because you think you ought to. You have a small business, it has a website, there really ought to be a blog of some sort, many people think, because that’s what everyone else does.

I don’t. I’ve said so in my book so it must be true.

There is only one reason to blog (a blogger writes) which I find acceptable. It’s not because the technology allows you, it’s not because you’ve got a business to promote. It’s because you have something to say, can say it and are convinced other people will get something out of reading it.

So often people get that wrong. I’m not going to be unkind and point to bad blogs – frankly for a professional writer to take potshots at individuals would be too easy, I know I’m good at words and could attack very easily. It would be cheap. But people who think floating a business idea is going to make good reading automatically, individuals who think a new flavour of whatever they make is worth more than a cursory mention on the website, will need to think again more and more.

I say that because the public is getting very social network savvy. This is great because more people will read a blog, but it’s tricky because they’ll become more discerning. Some readers will remember the early days of the web, when every site said ‘Hi, I’m Larry and this is my dog’ – we demand more now, and we’re going to start demanding more from blogs too.

Blogs are great ways to communicate. Thanks to companies including Microsoft they’re becoming easier to do, mechanically. But they do need thinking through, and the right content needs to be on them, and it won’t be the right medium every time.

This is a guest-post from Guy Clapperton, a freelance journalist who has specialised in the small business arena for over a decade.

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