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Social Media 101: Blogging, Part One

March 13, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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Glorified diary or something more?


We’ve covered Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. To wind up our Social Media 101 series, I’ve saved the most misunderstood, frequently abused, and completely underrated vehicle of all – blogging. It may seem a little absurd to pose this question since you’re reading one, but what, exactly, is a blog? From our friends at Wikipedia:

"A blog (a contraction of the words "Web log") is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog."

According to a timeline on NYMag.com - “Blogging, the Early Years,” the first seeds of the blogosphere were planted as early as 1994, with the term “Weblog” coined in 1997. Nascent blogs served primarily as an outlet for the frustrated, oppressed, or just generally pissed-off to vent and feel better, and/or a place for aspiring writers to express themselves and share their words with others. Although the early presentation was crude compared to the sophistication of today’s content management systems, blogs allowed an instant freedom of expression that ignited a creative spark that has spread like wildfire.

As this form of online expression has grown and been embraced by virtually every demographic with an available Internet connection, so, too, have the uses for the medium evolved. At first just a glorified online diary, blogs today are used with creative precision to achieve a vast array of both personal and professional objectives. Mommy bloggers unite for a strong collective voice, nutrition bloggers share tips, advice, and products, business coach bloggers excite us to reach our maximum potential, and really, to quote Buzz Lightyear, to infinity and beyond!

So what about healthcare bloggers, and more specifically, hospital CIO bloggers? Are there many out there? (If you’re reading this blog, you’ve already discovered the treasure trove of bloggers that Healthcare Informatics has carefully assembled- I’m seriously humbled to be included in this group.) Are they spending their time wisely by effectively communicating a message that matters, or are they really just frustrated Hemingways making an ass of themselves? Obviously the answer to this question is …you need to tune in next week!

How about you – are you ready to join the millions of others in the blogosphere? Next week I’ll pose the five questions that you need to ask yourself before becoming a blogger, and we’ll take a look at how to get started. The following week we’ll look at blogging best practices, and cover some insider hospital CIO blogging success tips.

NOTE: Scott Rosenberg, a co-founder of Salon.com has written a much-anticipated book (to be released this summer) about the subject called “Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters.”
IMO this title would be a very impressive answer to Tim Tolan’s famous Killer Interview Question #5.

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Comments

Thanks Joe! Great list! I wholeheartedly agree with the items on it and have a few of my own to add as the Blogging Series progresses. Stay tuned~

G.
btw, I always look forward to reading your blog - your posts can be counted on to be insightful, thought-provoking, and entertaining - thanks!

Gwen,
The book "Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers" by Robert Scoble (Author), Shel Israel (Author) got me started. See the amazon review. Here's the short list of recommended practices:

1. Get found easily
2. Read and comment on blogs before starting your own
3. Keep if simple and focused
4. Show passion
5. Demonstrate authority
6. Allow comments (a good blog is a conversation)
7. Be accessible
8. Tell a compelling personal story
9. "Be linky"
10. Build real world relationships
11. Use your referrer log

These authors point out the value of blogs if you're unknown or have a reputation you seek to change (e.g. evil empire).

Thanks Kate! Looking forward to reading your article, as well. The Social Media landscape is constantly evolving - it will be interesting to see what's next, and what it means for the Healthcare IT community.

G.

Gwen - this post (and the whole series on social networking) is terrific. As I've been working on the article for the May issue, I can't tell you how valuable your blogs have been.

For me, blogging has given me a great opportunity to talk about topics that we might not cover in the publication, but are still very important. And reading others' blogs has really helped to educate me and keep me in the loop.

As for what you wrote about CIOs who blog, I know that John Halamka and Will Weider are bloggers, as well as the CEOs from Harvard, Cleveland Clinic and many other orgs. It's a very positive trend that I hope to see continue.

Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

Gwen Darling

CEO, HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling

@HealthcareITJob

www.HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling serves as an online HIT matchmaker, bringing together qualified Healthcare IT...