Connecting is Branding

personal brandingBlogs, Communities, and Networks

A concept I never fully grasped until recently was how the internet has created a sense of widespread community within our society. We now not only have a way of viewing opinionated writing online, but we have access to countless other realms such as advertisements through blogging, social media networks, and more. Human beings have the distinct desire to want to be a part of a community and to feel like they belong. So, what better way to do so than to be a part of an online community? There have been arguments expressing how communities cannot develop in blogs because there is no face-to-face conversation. However, some make the argument that blogging is archived and saved via software, unlike conversations, which will most likely not be sketched into one’s brain. I believe blogging can absolutely create an online community, just like I absolutely believe networks with similar attributes do not always constitute a community.

The GOOD: On the positive side, bloggers create a widespread online community when they link to other blogs. This may signify that the two bloggers know each other, representing a relationship, and one that will allow both sites to gain more credibility. Networks such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn all share one thing in common: they build a community that allows virtually everyone to view their history or “archives”, similar to blogs. These networks constantly help social media users gain new information, while storing old information that can be returned to us–or others–in the future. Because there is no centralized network with blogs, a distributed network allows many networks and communities to connect with one another through endless sites, links and more. There are clearly many good things that come from an online community. However, there is always…

The BAD: Although some of us may think online communities are wonderful, some may think it is awful. Here’s why. One reason is that social media networks and blogs publicly display our relationships for everyone to see. Whether you are “in a relationship” or “engaged” to whomever, everyone can know, even if you have never met them before. danah boyd, a prominent researcher of social network sites, lists the four characteristics of online social spaces that make them different from offline spaces.

  1. Persistence. Everything can and will be accessible later on, including your old posts, pictures, statuses, and videos.
  2. Searchability. Once you are a part of a community, people can find you.
  3. Replicability. There is no way of deciphering what is original and what is a replica because of copies and prints.
  4. Invisible Audiences. You have no way of knowing who is reading it.

boyd talks in the clip below about her book It’s Complicated, in which she discusses the concern of teens who are losing sight of real communication by only communicating via social media. She incorporates the four characteristics listed above in the clip:

The main point to get from the contrast between the good and bad parts of joining an online community is that networks and connections easily collide in our society. Therefore, it is important to monitor our online behavior and use the community the way it was meant to be used.

Blogging Brands 

As if I didn’t already know anything about blogging in the first place, I now find out that there are ads involved? I really need to read up on these blogging tactics. Using advertisements through blogs is a smart tactic used by many bloggers and corporations worldwide. Why is this such a useful tool on the online world and why do large companies pursue blogging? These were things I found extremely interesting as I read Rettberg’s 6th chapter “Blogging Brands”.

1999 marked the first year that blogging became popular, and where bloggers began talking about products. Soon after, some bloggers were making large profits off of advertisements made on their sites, typically from high viewing rates and a high number of links that connected to those sites. Modern blogging has obviously allowed bloggers to approach it as more of a profession, increasing their income by making strong personal brands. Some ways bloggers do this is by increasing their graphical advertisements and other visual traits. Blogs create unique opportunities for branding because they can engage with readers and other blogs, as well as be sponsored by several ads that increase income. Advertisements bring a high positive effect on readership and encourage readers to come back because it gains credibility and longevity to the site in the readers’ minds. Almost all of the top 100 blogs have ads because their readers enjoy the links and connections to other online communities it brings to them.

As for the business realm, who wouldn’t want to read what their favorite or prominent business corporations have to say via blogs? Blogging corporations are a brilliant idea that catalyzed a new brand of the business world. Blogs allow corporations to talk directly to their consumers, addressing anything necessary. They will even participate in online conversations about themselves in order to make their product or services better. This online method also allows companies to establish themselves as experts in their field, especially if their product or services do not involve the online region. An example of this is the Starbucks blog, titled My Starbucks Idea, which allows customers to make suggestions and propose product ideas. This represents the corporation’s interaction with customers. However, there are a few backlashes to this idea. This type of communication is not as beneficial and resourceful as a real conversation between a consumer and the corporation because they don’t consist of any depth. Also, corporation bloggers will not have the same opinionated writing styles as those who blog as a profession. Cluetrain Manifesto (1999), a collection of 95 theses published from the point of view of consumers, reports that they demanded big business and media to answer back to them in a human voice because they were so frustrated with the corporations’ lack of understanding of their new networks and styles. They felt they were at a disadvantage because they could not voice their opinions as easily anymore.

So, what have I learned? I have learned that the internet is a conversation. Everything that is involved in the internet relates to a conversation because our society appears to be in constant connection with everything. Since the internet never sleeps, it is important that we continue to keep up with the information we are given to ensure a bright future in an online community.

Wrapping it Up

Blogging continues to stand out to me after each reading. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that bloggers are the most real out of all of the groups we have learned about. Journalists cannot be “real” in their occupation, similar to how corporations cannot appear biased even on their business blogs. Speaking of the journalism, or lack thereof, is BuzzFeed a form of journalism? I question if it is because it includes various styles that report information, yet the credibility is a little iffy. I believe it is more a form of blogging because it is more opinionated, aside from the fact that it shares information. There is definitely a biased style that comes from reading the ever-famous BuzzFeed. That leaves blogs to state the cold hard truth–in someone’s cold, hard opinion that is. As Rettberg quotes that “honest conversation and the human voice are at the heart of successful blogging”, I challenge you all to think of why bloggers have such a defined and personal brand and why do they stand out from other groups of writers? Maybe even question yourself about your own personal brand. That’s all for now!

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