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Dissertation paper

Blogs: Two way communication or not

Shikha Pathak

Roll No: 90

Post Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication (2012-2013)

Jadavpur University

Kolkata

Introduction

Blogs are collections of articles, ideas, news, facts, opinions or inspirations that are posted on the internet. They are usually structured, organized by category and are updated often, if not daily. The owner of the blog is able to control the content. The term, which stands for "Web log," was coined in 1999 and has caught on like wildfire. There are now about 4 million blogs on the Internet and the number is growing every day. An important aspect related to blogs is that they explicitly express the opinion of people and the bloggers and avidly communicate with the readers. They provide great supplemental content and direct attention to areas that a person wants to feature or highlight. One can use it as a unique, informal way to express the views or opinions or can use it in a more formal way for the promotion of individuals, goods and services. Whichever way you take, blogs are a classified successful communication tools. They are useful in communicating with colleagues, partners, suppliers, existing or potential customers, showcasing industry/company news, introducing new products or services, marketing promotions or providing tips, establishing a company or individual's reputation or brand, improving operations (e.g. project management or tech support knowledge-sharing), Demonstrating expertise in a particular field, establishing competitive differentiation and simplifying and accelerating the publishing process.

The Debate:
Blogs are often considered as two way communication tools but there is a discrepancy regarding that since there are two groups of people constantly debating whether blogs can be described as an effective two way communication tool or not. While some people believe that blogs do let two strangers with the same interest to interact with each other on the same platform, there is the second

group that believes that blogs are random entries that fail the system of communication between two parties, irrespective of the area of interest.

Blogs as a two way communication tool:


Many people believe that blogs are a way of expressing the opinion of a person, in this case a blogger and expressing whatever he feels is true and correct. It, therefore, plays a very important role in establishing the fact that blogs are indeed a powerful two way communication tool, where the readers can communicate their opinion with the blogger as well and hence can explicitly enunciate both way communication process. One can easily direct the content and let the readers guide them to write more whereas simultaneously, establishing the need and scope to post more articles and adhere to it.

Blogs failing as a two way communication tool:


According to many people, blogs are just a platform for people who cannot express themselves otherwise to establish their whimsical discussions and points. According to research done on a small group of people on Facebook, however, it was deduced that three out of every five people in the age group of twenty to thirty read blog posts on subject matters related to health, lifestyle, finance, kids and other niche. But they often did not communicate with the blogger. They just took random ideas and left the blog site. This deduces that blogs sometimes do fail as an effective communication tool and are not always effecting in reflecting the ideology and thought process of the individuals writing or reading it.

Aims and Objectives


The main aim of this project on Blogs-both way communication or not is to find out whether the debate over the topic is justified or not. The focus will be to establish three main facts: - Establishing that blogs are indeed a two way communication tool that links

the blogger to the readers:


The dissertation work will be putting emphasis on the fact that there is a direct communication established between the blogger as well as the reader through various blogs. A compelling blog post that is extremely well written hits the right note with the audiences and is well received. In contrast, a blog post that is poorly written or is unable to get on well with the audiences receive bad reviews and hence, as a result leads to poor or absolutely no communication (in some cases, negative communication) between the two parties. - Show that blogs provide great supplemental content and direct attention to

areas of interest that you want to feature or highlight:


Not all blogs are based on the personal whims of the bloggers and this project will be aimed at providing impetus to this very point. There are various kinds of blog posts depending on what the particular blogger wants to convey. Like, for example there is a personal fan blog of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, a Bollywood superstar, who believes that blogs are the best way to convey the feeling with the fans and establish a direct link with them. Thus in his personal blogs, one can see the accounts of his personal thoughts, his work log, his personal photos, personal moments with family and friends and some unknown secrets of the superstar that he has decided to convey through blogs.

In this case, his personal blog is providing a great supplemental content for his blog site and is directing the attention of all his fans directly in this space, so that whenever they will feel like establishing a direct communication with their favorite actor, they can directly communicate with him over here. Hence, this example shows us exactly how the blogs are two way communication tools and in the project, we will be establishing that. - To portray blogs as a viable medium: Blogs are regarded as extremely viable medium both for the readers as well as the bloggers and we will emphasize on this point. For the blogger, since no lists are maintained, there are no list server costs. Blogging software and blogging services are also very reasonably priced. Some blogging services charge others to "read", while others charge writers to "write", but overall the monthly charges are rather minimal either way. Posters get to see the results of a post immediately as the post appears simultaneously after posting. Blogs may also use a TrackBack system that allows the visitor to see who has written the original post and any other entry concerning it. The system works by sending a 'ping' between the blogs, and therefore providing the alert. Blogs can also alert you when new or updated content is added. TrackBack typically appears below a blog entry and shows a summary of what has been written on the target blog, together with a URL and the name of the blog making the medium extremely visible. There are limitless blogs that can be maintained on a monthly, weekly or a daily basis. For the readers, most of the blogs are free to read and can be accessed at almost any point of time. Hence they are extremely viable and in the project we will be focusing on the different points that make it so.

Hypothesis

Establishing that blogs are a two way communication tool that links the blogger to the readers:
In order to establish this particular point, we have taken the interview of Mr. Anamik Adhikary, a professional blogger who pens down his ideas in his professional blog site. Here is what the famous blogger has to say: Q- Tell us something about yourself. A-I am Anamik, an Engineering graduate in IT, a freelancer, web developer and blogger. I also happen to click photographs when theres something I cant take my eyes off. Q- What do you convey through blogs? A-My blog footstepnjournalism basically focuses on the issues that catch my attention, which are real-life incidents. Simple ones that everyone sees but very few observe, or sometimes hardcore technical stuff, or current issues that kind of triggers my emotions to pen down my thoughts. I convey the fact that life is beautiful and very inspiring. The thing we lack is our way of looking at it. There are some amazing people and amazing things happening around us every moment. If we stop for a few seconds to observe them, we would be just spellbound.

Q- Do you think that readers are attracted to your blog posts? If yes, then what is the attraction factor? A- Yes I think readers are attracted to my blog, and in a short span of a month or two, my blog has reached a hit count of 2500+, which I consider to be quite an achievement. Moreover, the readers are not limited to India or just Asian countries. I have got readers from USA, Canada and Europe too. Many college students, entrepreneurs, journalists, writers are regular followers of my blog, which kind of makes a point for me to believe that readers are attracted to my blog. B- I would rate the kind of topics I chose and the lucidity of my writing as the most attractive feature. Its basically because people can connect to them. Like, every day you see the cobbler sitting under a tree the whole day mending shoes. But have you ever thought that this man could ever be passionate about his work? And you could end up getting valuable business ethics from him? Thats what I do. Pick up the simplest of the things. Because I believe simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Q- Do you communicate with your readers through the blog posts? A-Yes, thats an obvious point. It helps me to get real time feedback from readers and in a way I also get to interact with them on-on-one. Feedback of some readers, who are highly knowledgeable, is immensely helpful. Q- So do you think that blogs are a connecting factor between your readers and yourself? To put it simply does blogs act as a two way communication tool or not? A-Yes, indeed it does. You know who your readers are, and to whom are you targeting. Plus it also helps to create a one-to-one bond with the readers. Some

positive criticism from their part also helps bloggers like me to further improve my writing. And appreciation from their end gives a good feeling. Based on the interview, we have derived certain deductions that will help us in focusing on the fact that blogs are indeed a two way communication tool: Blogs are easy to maintain and easy to start- If someone does not know html to set it up, using a template from one of the many tools available online makes it easy to start. One just needs to post his info into the template, just like Mr. Anamik did and get going.

They act as a connecting medium between the blogger and the reader Blogs are not restricted to the geographical boundary of a particular country or nation. Here, we could see that, Mr. Adhikary has readers from all over the World, and not just from a particular city. The blogger gets regular feedback from the readers; all the feedbacks are from real time users and hence are absolutely valid and communicative. These are definitely not spam and leads to avid interaction between the two parties, the blogger and the reader. Feedback from specialized readers, some of whom are experts in a particular niche that the blogger writes about, act as a catalyst to hone the skill of the blogger himself. Thus two way communications is established positively. According to the interviewee, the feedbacks from the readers, both positive as well as negative help to negate the shortcomings of the blogger and infact help aggressively in motivating him to write better in the future.

Blogs provide great supplemental content and direct attention to areas of interest that you want to feature or highlight:
To prove this, a survey has been carried among fifty young and adult individuals in the age group of twenty to forty years. Here is the finding of the survey:

Findings of the Sample survey among 50 people:


1. Out of those fifty people, forty people read blogs on a regular basis whereas ten blog have either not heard about it or have no inclination to read them.

Do you read blogs?


yes no

2. Out of those forty people, most people read blogs owing to the belowmentioned points:

Specific reasons that make the blogs an effective two-way communication tool:
The above-mentioned reasons are the most pertinent facts when compared with a speculative list of twenty people:

Compelling, well-written content: Ten people are of the opinion that no

one, either online or Offline, wants to read material that is poorly written, effective is due to the fact that they are extremely compelling as well as well written and cater to the mindset of the people.

difficult or boring to read. Hence an important reason why blogs are highly

Updated material: Fifteen people in the group said that they prefer reading blogs because they are constantly updated and just as in newsletters or ezines. So it has been deduced that if material is not updated continually, then the audience eventually dies.

Rousing topics. Ten people opinionated that they are attracted by blogs

because it caters to their area of interest and the particular niche that they that appeal to very few, or are rather dull topics.

love. Topics of interest to a wide range of readers succeed more than topics

A nice layout and visual appeal: 5 people have voted for this. A blog is akin every care should be made to have the blog be visually appealing and friendly to visitors.

to a Web site for written materials, and just like in the design of a Web site,

Reasons to read Blogs

Rousing topics A nice layout and visual appeal Updated material Compelling, well-written content

3. The third point also illustrated the same result as point number two. Twenty-Two are of the opinion that they read blogs for the purpose of entertainment as well as education.

4. A staggering thirty five people post regular comments on blogs and interact with the bloggers. 5. Out of those thirty-five, thirty people think that the blogger pays attention to what the reader has to say and hence are convinced that through blogs, they can properly communicate with the blogger. 6. All the forty people reading blogs on a regular basis feel that blogs are the perfect medium to convey thoughts and opinions to the many readers. This is a staggering number since everyone believes the same thing. 7. Only twenty-five people think that blogs are an apt two-way communication between the blogger and the readers whereas rest 15 people feels that sometimes they do communicate with the blogger and sometimes they do not. The negative numbers of people have also admitted that they personally do not feel like commenting on every possible blog and even if they sometimes do, they do not bother to go through it again to check the comments or the reply of the blogger.

Inference:
Based on the above mentioned sample survey, it can be concluded that blogs are an effective two way communication tool and in the cases when it is not, the reason is owing to the fact that most of the individuals are not really adaptable with the concept or the flow of communication between the blogger and the reader is not swift and requires some tactful approach from the blogger so that to which he wants to convey the message. But in the rest of the cases, blogs do you want to feature or highlight:

whatever he wants to convey is successfully reaching to the readers or the group provide great supplemental content and direct attention to areas of interest that

Portraying Blogs as a viable medium:


In order to provide this point, we will be doing a case study of an elite personality of our country who has re-established himself as the superstar once he started interacting with the audiences over his blogs- Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, often considered the superstar of Indian film industry has an active blog since the last six years. His official id http://srbachchan.tumblr.com/ speaks about his daily life, his day to activities, tight from cleaning a desk to attending an award function. The pictures shared on the site provide snapshots to the stars personal life and shows his interaction with the family members, staff, colleagues of the film fraternity and others.

Case study: Blogs allow for greater interactions between Mr. Bachchan and his fans: No
longer is a newsletter, calendar of events, e-mails and other one-way communication enough for public relations. Great PR communities inspire great conversations. Dr. Scott McLeod, an elite social media analyst states that robust ecosystems of multiple communication channels are better than more limited analog-only print/phone channels. In other words, there is a need for two-way, real-time communication allowing for engaging conversations with fans. However, being cognizant of your cliental and providing a menu of communication tools is key. As individuals, we must ensure that groups of fans do not get left behind. Mr. Bachhan remarked, Everything I blog also shows up on Facebook, Twitter, official Website, and Google Plus its not hard to have things post simultaneously. Remember, a hardcopy is still necessary for some families. Blogging tools provide stronger connections to fans, critics, and to the

world: The most important thing about communication is to hear what isnt being

said. Connecting through social media like blogs allows opportunities for stakeholders to have a voice and speak about the issues and concerns they may have. As bloggers, it is important to respond to feedback in a timely and appropriate but honest manner. A powerful advantage of social media is the Positive Public Relations Individuals should take advantage of blogs by sharing and promoting all the amazing things happening within their profession with the world. Blog use can have a significant impact on Mr. Bacchhans personal and

professional growth. Inference:


In the case of Mr. Bachchan, the blog has certainly paved the way for a better communication with his fans and followings. It is of little doubt that the superstars blog post had been taken with open hands by his fans and the millions of followings has discreetly proved the point that blogs are indeed a two way communication tool through which Mr. Bachchan can interact with his fan following and can even share and comment on their posts and comments. This has definitely lead to a significant shift of the star tag that Bollywood superstars used to get since most of them hardly interacted with their fans. Mr. Bachchan used the blogs pragmatically to establish a strong bonding with his well wishers and fan following and crafted a tactical PR strategy choosing to interact with words rather than stardom.

Summary Blogs are an effective two way communication tool. From the case study, the surveys and the interview of professional bloggers, it is absolutely of no doubt that the popularity of the blogs as a viable medium is due to its ability to arouse the interest of the readers in the particular area of their interest. The popularity is also due to the diverse topics that blogs offer, their freshness and dynamic marketing abilities that is luring even superstars and elite personalities as well as well known companies to advertise them and the companies through this particular medium. In short, one can very well use the blogs to interact with their target audiences and create a niche for a particular domain through this medium. Blogs carry in ideas, information, knowledge and other related matters from the blogger to the readers and subsequently the feedback that the blogger gets from these readers towards him, thereby establishing a proper communication system. The best part about this particular medium is that any kind of unwanted noise, like extreme negative publicity or abusive comments from any particular reader that is not related to the blogs, but aims to inflict the sentiments, religious view or the right of democracy of the blogger can be eliminated. This particular medium is highly effective in transmitting information from the source (here the blogger) to the end user (the readers) through a viable medium (internet) and receiving a proper feedback (comments, likes, etc.) while eliminating any kind of noise (negative publicity).
Blogger

feedback

reader

Research Methodology The sources taken for the need of research are secondary sources of information like the magazines, periodicals, books, journals, websites, blog diaries and blog posts that have given immense source of information during the working of the project. This apart, case study of an elite personalitys blog, interview of a professional blogger and survey of twenty young blog readers have also been taken to make the hypothesis stronger. Acknowledgement I would like to thank my faculty professors Mr. Partha Das for providing continuous guidance during the tenure of the dissertation work. It was with the foresightedness and inspiration of him that the work could go along the right direction. I would also like to thank Ms. Anurupa Kundu for helping me with inputs during the assignment. Bibliography: The reference for the work has been taken from the below-mentioned sources:
http://srbachchan.tumblr.com/ http://footstepnjournalism.wordpress.com/ http://blog.tribeinc.com/2012/10/02/the-importance-of-two-way-communication/ www.dailyblogtips.com/what-is-a-blog