When my sister and I first discussed her need to learn some social media skills, my first thought was to start her with blogging. Why? The technology of blogging is very similar to emails. If you know how to use email, most blogging software is set up like an email.
More importantly, blogging allows you control the communication over the internet. You decide when you want to make a post public, whether or not others can comment on what you have written, and when you are ready to post something. Blogs are easy to edit if you don't like the way it looks.
So what do people new to social media use blogs for? There are 3 main ways to use blogs:
1) Professional information: Blogs are a great way to demonstrate professional credentials and/or expertise. More and more companies have blogs to communicate internally and externally with workers, management, clients, and potential customers. (Hint: when you see text in blue, this is called hyperlink. Clicking on it will bring you to another site that is related to the topic under discussion. In this case, I have a link to a blog written by GE researchers). For those looking for a new career or a "post-retirement" career, this could be a good opportunity to attract potential clients/employers. For those who are afraid that their skill sets may be perceived as obsolete, this is a good way to get HR or management to notice what you can and/or do contribute to the company.
2) Storytelling "Blog" stands for Web Log. Blogging originally was developed by journalists to update their readers "from the field." In other words, blogs were designed with "story-telling" in mind. You will notice that blog posts are chronologically listed, and on the side of the blog, are listed blog posts by month and year.
There are two ways bloggers may tell their story. The first is to add on to a story as it is developing. An example of this would be a trip blog in which pictures and daily excursions are documented either to share with family and friends or for a permanent memory of the trip. Mytripjournal is a blogging software that is set up to help bloggers document their trip, including maps, photo/video uploads, and itineraries.
The second way is to maintain a regular journal which documents life events. This could be thoughts on what is happening, family milestones, or even a discussion of a topic of interest over a period of time. This is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends who are at a distance, or to document your life (and how it has changed) over a period of time.
3) Engage with a Community of Interest One aspect of blogging that is different than email is the ability to engage in discussion with readers. This is accomplished by allowing "comments" (we'll discuss how to do this in an upcoming post). A blogger will share their interests in such subjects as quilting, cooking, TV shows, gardening, photography/videos, or books. In some cases, a blog will have multiple authors (as this blog does) who are interested in the same topic. It is a great way to create an exchange of information and get feedback on hobbies and other interests from others who are interested in the topic.
So, as you can see, there are many things a new "blogger" can do with a blog. You only need to decide what YOU would like to do and start blogging.