Critical Components of a Blog

To expand on my post from yesterday, a few folks have asked me what really constitutes a blog and what elements are critical "must-haves." Others have done this many moons ago, but here goes:

  1. A blog must have posts arranged in reverse chronological order (the most recent post right up top). Why? That's the current expectation that needs to be delivered on.

  2. A blog must have comments or some form of interactivity enabled so that community members can voice their opinions. If it's not interactive, it's not a blog. Some of you may disagree. I happen to think this is one of the things that separates blogs from archives of press releases.

  3. A blog must have some method of organizing content. Most organize by content category and by chronology. These are basic methods of organizing content that ought to be present. (Tagging is a "nice to have" but not yet a defining characteristic of a blog.)

  4. A blog must enable direct linking to posts.

  5. A blog must have regularity in its posting frequency.

  6. A blog must have a person or people behind it, not a robot, script or editor.

Then there are the "nice to haves." These aren't defining characteristics, per se, but they are critical components of the citizen publishing and conversational marketing movements.

  1. A blog should syndicate content via XML.

  2. A blog should publicize its feeds by letting blog search engines and feed aggregators know about them.

  3. A blog should post often enough to keep the conversation going in between posts. If what is posted isn't enough to spark significant discussion, then it's not really a blog.

  4. A blog should have some method of keeping track of inter-blog conversations. Trackback is nice. Custom tags are nice, too.

Folks, we need to make sure people understand what a blog really is. There are some marketing types out there who would fake it in a second if they thought they could get some bloggy goodness to rub off on their brands. They should be committing to conversational marketing rather than trying to fake it. A vague definition of "blog" makes it easier for them to get away with faking it.