Blog Is the WordThis year will be remembered for many things, but one word will certainly stand out from the rest: blog. That four-letter term for a "Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks" was the most frequently requested definition at Merriam-Webster's online dictionary site.
Merriam-Webster compiles a top 10 list each year, excluding profanity and the perennials such as affect/effect. A Merriam-Webster spokesman told Reuters last week that "blog" has received tens of thousands of hits on its site each month since July. Too bad we'll have to wait until next year to actually see the word in Merriam-Webster's dictionary. Blogs owe their rise in attention to this year's election. But they're not just for political commentary, as people use blogs to create online diaries and -- more and more -- for marketing purposes.
Guess what was No. 1 in reader mail to DM News this year? No, it wasn't from mailers concerned about postal reform or rate increases. Not privacy concerns, CAN-SPAM, the national do-not-call list or the telemarketing outsourcing debate. Not even the new president at the Direct Marketing Association or Ben Franklin being inducted into the DMA's Hall of Fame. No, the No. 1 reaction was to a Nov. 6 column by Bob Bly that questioned where the ROI is in blogging. Bob's column brought out blogger after blogger writing us to defend their practice. The letters are still coming in as Bob McCarthy compares blogs with Bly's own e-mail newsletter.
So, to continue this week's blogging theme, we feature a point-counterpoint between Bly and Susan Heywood, who has her own blog. Again, Bob challenges the bloggers to show him the money, while Susan points out how she has sold products, received consulting work and increased search engine visibility because of her blog. To show his interest in the subject, however, Bob mentions that he has started his own blog. It doesn't sound like he is impressed yet. "For a solo practitioner [freelance copywriter] like me, my time is the only thing I have to sell," Bob wrote in his blog the other day at www.bly.com/blog. "Therefore, I am concerned that, since for me time equals money, my blogging is costing me a lot of money ... with no visible ROI other than fun."
Uh-oh. That doesn't sound promising, though I should mention that Bob's blog is only 2 weeks old. Stay tuned. I'm sure the debate isn't over yet.