It's all about blogging these days ... who's writing, what's being said, and what to do with the information.

Like other social media, blogs (or Web logs) are slowly becoming an integral component of firm communication programs. In fact, many accounting professionals are not only actively reviewing third-party blogs for timely information, but more and more firms are creating their own and blogging internally.

Blogs have fast become a reliable source of information, including technology trends, best practices, and even much-needed marketing and branding tips. It's clear that blogging is not a short-lived trend. Let's hear it for the blog! Yeah, let's give the blog a hand!

THE CATALYST

People have been blogging for years, on a plethora of topics. But as with other social media and digital communication initiatives, the accounting profession has only recently started to explore the value.

Blogs act as a catalyst for a bigger information feed. Consider the chain reaction: A firm subscribes to a handful of blogs on a variety of topics - from technology trends to small-business tips and tactics. The firm then takes this information and launches "tweets" and marketing e-mail campaigns, and augments their electronic client newsletter. By sharing useful information with their clients, firms enhance their communications programs, while also strengthening their client relationships.

LOOKING FOR MR. GOOD BLOG

It's all about sharing information. And in a profession that seems to change with the wind, everyone needs to stay informed. The trick is identifying good information that is worth passing along.

Jack LaRue, senior vice president at Thomson Reuters and creator of Thomson's Marketing Mondays blog, offers some advice on what makes a blog successful: "It should never be about the person writing it. It's about the audience and supplying them with useful information. If firms are going to take the time to read your posts, the information better be purposeful."

At the heart of this is a "me-oriented" versus a "we-oriented" approach. Personal statement blogs are of little use to anyone. Who wants to read 100 percent opinion on a given topic? Readers need information they can connect with and use. Firms need well-researched data that can be applied immediately.

LaRue goes on to say, "Good bloggers write like they talk. Think of when you attend a conference or trade show - networking and sharing information in easy-to-digest, well-articulated chunks. Blogs should convey the same succinct and useful information."

Any good writer knows, too, that to write effectively there has to be passion for the topic. "Your passion for the subject has to show through. I write about marketing for accounting firms because I know marketing, I know the profession, and I am passionate about sharing this knowledge," said LaRue.

Firms aren't being left out of the blogging phenomena. In fact, many are implementing blogs within their Web sites - with a focus on opening another channel for client communication and enhancing their brand image.

Matthew Patrick, CPA and author of ADD Accountant, stated, "My firm's blog provides another vehicle to communicate with clients. It also consistently directs clients back to our Web site, which means they stay connected to us." He sees blogging as another way to reach out to his client base. "Blogging allows our firm's personality to come out, which supports our brand. Our clients see that we are giving them good, useful information, written in a personable tone. That is the image we want to project."

With the rate of change in the profession, Patrick also adds, "If you are going to blog, you have to commit to a schedule. You can't post one week and then wait two months. People won't come back."

BLOG WELL

As with other social media, however, it's never a good idea to blog just for the sake of doing it. Running a blog takes dedication, so it's important to remember a few basic rules:

1. The best blogs are we-oriented; the focus should always be on the audience.

2. Write about a topic you know well and write with passion.

3. Post purposeful information with consistent frequency.

Following these rules may have your readers yelling, "Let's hear it for the blogger!"

Kristy Short, Ed.D, is a managing partner in SAS Communications 360 (www.sascommunications360.com) and RootWorks Communications (www.rootworks.com), firms dedicated to providing public relations, branding and marketing services to the accounting profession. She is also a professor of English and marketing at University of Phoenix and Cleary University. Reach her at kristy@sascommunications360.com or kristy@rootworks.com.

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