Blog and key: Online journals can open avenues for business promotion

Social media. Two words that mean so many things.

The world of social media includes blogs, photo and video sharing, virtual reality, text messaging, networking, news aggregation and syndicated content feeds.

Businesses can — and should — take advantage of these "Web 2.0" features. But how?

Richard Becker, owner of Copywrite Ink, www.copywriteink.com, said, "Social media is not a cookie-cutter operation. It’s an extremely specific operation."

He says adding a blog to a company Web site is a good place to start.

"Blogs give people an incentive to come back to you over and over again because there is always new content."

Speaking to a class of public relations professionals at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas recently, Becker said "authenticity" is the key ingredient in a successful blog. This assures readers and customers the author is telling the truth.

"It’s not an opportunity to create ‘spin,’ but rather authentic information. Be real about your communication," he said. "We’re bombarded with so many messages per day that every message has to count. If you don’t manage your message, your message will manage you."

Becker’s own blog, copywriteink.blogspot.com, is a good example of practicing what is preached. Recent posts include commentary on spell-check disasters, suggestions for the National Hockey League’s Web site, PepsiCo’s Doritos Super Bowl Challenge and other personal insights on Web strategies.

Like anything, there are right and wrong ways to run a blog. Becker shared several tips with the class, including:

Hit the heads: Use descriptive headlines that summarize the article.

Write in an inverted-pyramid style. Get to the point in the first and second paragraphs and fill in the details later.

Remember, the first link is the one most people click on. Too many links too close together can diffuse your point.

Check your facts.

Be transparent with affiliate links. Many affiliate marketers use techniques like "link cloaking," so readers aren’t able to identify link sources. This deceptive practice can turn off readers.

Spell check your posts and read them for clarity. Good writing rules apply to blogs, too.

Respect copyright law. Don’t assume you can use online content without permission. Always ask the copyright owner if you can use or license their content.

Respect tax law. Income earned through your Web site may be taxable. Keep expense and revenue records and consult with a tax professional if you aren’t sure if the earnings are taxable. Also remember to file a 1099 form with the Internal Revenue Service for contributors if you’ve paid them $600 or more in a year.

Has your company added a blog? Send your tale with the subject "blogs" and I’ll share the best in a future column.

Share your Internet story with me at agibes@reviewjournal.com.

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