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As a former newspaper reporter and long-time blogger, I'm a huge advocate of corporate blogs, particularly for small businesses with limited marketing budgets.

When I'm talking with clients about their social media plans, they frequently talk about Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, rarely mentioning blogs.

The recalcitrance may be due to the fact that blogs take ideas, creativity, writing skills and time, which makes them more difficult and challenging than sending out a tweet or an update.

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Despite the work involved, blogs are a powerful and effective tool for businesses because they offer a variety of ways to provide existing and potential customers with insight and information that is difficult to deliver via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn.

On a blog, a company can demonstrate thought leadership, discuss new ideas, highlight new products or services, and provide readers with timely information about trends and developments. As well, a company owns and controls a blog while it only "rents" space on Facebook or Twitter.

Another thing that makes blogs compelling is how they are being increasingly used to do more than just deliver content. The growing awareness that original content on the Web has value is encouraging companies to leverage content to drive leads and sales, as well as better search engine rankings.

In a recent blog post, small business consultant John Jantsch said that blogs are evolving into "highly engaging content management systems" that will drive a company's content strategy.

"While great examples of well-read traditional blog publications will probably be with us for some time, the real growth in the future of blogging will come as content producers turn the content production and consumption behaviour that blogs accelerated into the ultimate tool for sales conversion," he said.

The growing value of digital content and the focus on using it to drive brand awareness and sales leads could drive the renaissance of blogs, which were the belles of the social media ball until Facebook, YouTube and Twitter them into the corner a few years ago.

Companies that continually generate compelling, interesting and entertaining blog content have another way to differentiate themselves from the competition and, in the process, give themselves a powerful way to drive a strong digital presence and, hopefully, sales.

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Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.

Join The Globe's Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT







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