2005 is the year of the blog.
Blogs are everywhere. You can read blogs on the Iraq war written by people living in the midst of it all in Iraq (get a list from http://jarrarsupariver.blogspot.com/). The first real insights from the tsunami came from local bloggers (check out http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/). You can read blogs about blogs. And, last but not least, even Bill Nussey has a blog (you're reading it).
According to the recent study from Pew Internet & American Life Research, blog readership was up 58% in 2004 over 2003 and that 27% of all Internet users (or 23 million people) have read a blog in the last year. Given all this, it's not surprising that 2005 is being declared the year of the blog.
What exactly is a blog? A robust definition is available at my favorite site for all things internet, Wikipedia. But, in a nutshell, 'blog' is short for 'web log' - it is a web page where an author posts periodic articles on a particular topic. The original blogs had a decidedly personal, almost diary-like, tone. Blogs have evolved rapidly, however. Many now include music or pictures. Search engines dedicated to blogs have sprung up (more on this later). And, in the last year or so, blogs have also broadened to include business-oriented communications (like this blog).
It is this last point that is most crucial to the world of marketing. If blogs can influence presidential elections, they can most certainly speak to and possibly influence attitudes towards products and services offered by businesses. It follows that blogs will certainly become a tool, if not a key tool, for marketers in the coming years.
I'll be posting additional entries on how blogs work so keep checking the site and your RSS readers.