To every snow there is a season

…a time to shovel, a time to blow, a time to fix snowblowers and a time to rest one’s aching back.

We have about nine inches here—when I shoveled out the sidewalks this morning, the snow on the ground was almost exactly the height of our bottom front step—and it’s still coming down, though not as fast as it did last night. I’ve replaced the broken shear bolts on our snowblower, and when I’m done with this post I need to go outside and blow the driveway.

If this is what they mean by March coming in like a lion, I’ll pass.

(Nice pan-Boston-blog snow coverage at Universal Hub.

WSJ: Business blogging here to stay

Micro Persuasion: WSJ Extols Business Blogging. The WSJ article says that business blogging has shown its value as part of an online strategy by allowing customers to connect to the business on a personal level and by keeping them coming back to the business’s web site regularly.

The first point is the core of the reasoning behind Microsoft’s entry into business blogging. This, in fact, underlies my objection of the WSJ’s claim that “small businesses may benefit most” from business blogging. I’m not sure you can measure the impact of putting a human face back onto the largest software company in the world, but I’m pretty sure it has a pretty dramatic impact on the business’s future. That said, I certainly agree with the points the WSJ made about a blog’s power to make a small business or consultant an authority in a field.

The second point? You know, I’m going to go out on a limb and say something heretical here. You don’t need to start a business blog to keep people coming back to a corporate web site regularly. You just need frequently updated, honestly and directly written content. What you get from a blog is a framework in which you can publish that content which is:

  1. Search engine friendly: all the content has a permanent address and can always be found again. Contrast that with a corporate website where marketing content gets published, then silently disappears.
  2. Interactive: easy support for features like comments and trackback.
  3. Easy to syndicate: Built in RSS or Atom support allows users to read the content in other formats or recombine it in digest form to make it more useful to them—and incidentally to spread your message.
  4. Easy to navigate: A chronological architecture overlaid on top of the content makes it easy to follow evolutions in the story.
  5. Easy to find just the topics relevant to you: Support for categorization, keyword tags, and other taxonomy technologies makes it easy for a user to filter the content to find just the stuff he or she is interested in.

Plus, by starting a blog you sign a social contract. Whaaaah? Well, posting a blog these days, thanks to the work of blog practitioners like Scoble and others, is equivalent to signing a contract with your customers that you want to speak personally with them; that you want to hear what they say; and that you will be updating the story regularly. In short, you are saying that you want to establish a relationship that will be deeper than a single transaction. If you don’t go into business blogging with this spirit, you’ll get no value from it.