To most people, a "blog" simply represents a glorified online "diary" where geeks, computer nerds, and lonely teenagers record their thoughts in cyber-space.
However, many people don't realize that "blogs" are quietly revolutionizing the way companies and customers interact about everything from existing products to new ideas and improvements in customer service.
In short, "blog" style communication has come of age and anyone with an online business better sit up and take notice fast!
In the beginning, "blogs" were basically an online diary to record your thoughts; but "blogs" have now evolved into dynamic websites that non-technical people can update immediately without html editors or ftp programs.
Blogs allow their authors to make instant website updates through a computer anywhere in the world with a Web browser and Internet connection.
Blogs also allow readers to respond to the author's posts, provide additional information, links, expanded opinions, and more.
In short, an active "blog" creates an interactive community with the author as the hub and the readers as the spokes of the wheel that keep the whole cycle turning round.
Unlike traditional "static" web pages where content rarely (if ever) changes, an active blog evolves in a state of constant and never-ending renewal.
With blogs, smart online businesses re-discovered a principal that small "mom and pop" stores understood for years: know your customers and stay in close tune with their wants, needs, and desires.
Large companies throw billions of dollars down a black hole every year to literally "guess" what people want to buy. Most call it the "Marketing Department."
On the flipside, smart online businesses understand that blogs allow you to avoid guessing what's on your customers' minds and provide an active and up-to-the-minute means for them to tell you exactly what they do and don't like about your services, products, and virtually any other aspect of the market.
This lightning fast communication makes it possible for small companies to literally snatch huge market share away from more traditional companies.
Blogging also has a distinct advantage over traditional email newsletters in that subscribers can get udpates without having to receive an email message. Through the power of RSS (real simple syndication), subscribers get notified of updated content though an rss news reader.
Bottom Line: publishing a blog with an RSS feed that your readers can subscribe to means your content NEVER gets blocked by a SPAM filter.
Blog software basically comes in 2 flavors: hosted and stand-alone. Hosted blogging solutions make it extremely easy to get set up with a blog, often in just a couple of minutes.
If you know how to type, you can create a blog. Log on to Blogger.com and you can set up a blog free of charge and start posting in just a few minutes.
Blogger.com (owned by search giant, Google) will even host your blog on their servers.
Typepad.com, which charges as little as $4.95 per month, is also an excellent hosted service offering additional features that enable you to quickly get your own blog up and running.
The alternative is stand-alone blogging software installed on your own website.
A very popular solution is Moveable Type, available from moveabletype.org, which provides a very versatile and powerful suite of tools for creating a full-featured blog to rival that of any size company in the world.
This is the solution I've chosen for my blog at http://www.IGottaTellYou.com/blog/
Whichever blogging solution you choose, if you plan to successfully conduct any form of business online, understand that a "blog" must form an integral part of your overall plan for customer communication and interaction.