For some reason, once somebody created a Web site that told us we couldn't type more than 140 characters, we couldn't resist the challenge. It's as though we were dared to share our most inane thoughts.
The birth of the pointless Tweet was born, also known as "I'm eating string cheese and watching reruns of ALF!"
But remember a few years ago, when "blog" was the word you couldn't escape? Magazine covers were devoted to blogs. What does "blog" mean? Is it going to kill traditional media? Who should be blogging? Why do we care what you're blogging?
Now, blogs are something more akin to traditional (but still new) media.
They're not on par with The New York Times or CNN in terms of reputation, but each of those news agencies has its own blogs. And over the last few years, especially during the election, blogs played a major role in breaking news stories and motivating groups. Corporations now have them to connect with customers. Blogs are here to stay.
So the question is: Do you have one? If not, you might be missing out on a valuable boost to your career.
Why would you possibly want to blog?
In an already crowded blogosphere, why would you want to be just another small fish in a huge pond? Adrienne Waldo thought the same thing before she started her own marketing blog,
But once she started to post, she realized people were reading and interested in what she had to say. It helped her freelance career and she believes it can help others, too.
"Especially for someone just out of school, a blog is an excellent supplement to a résumé," Waldo says. "It serves as a sort of enhanced writing sample because it allows employers a unique look at your personality in addition to seeing that you can, in fact, write. It also shows that you're tech-savvy and motivated -- both extremely important qualities to have in today's job market."
Of course, your blog won't be an asset to you if it lacks direction and attention. Waldo suggests beginning bloggers set goals for themselves.
"A blog can be useful for countless reasons, so it's best to decide for yourself what your purpose in starting it is," she recommends. "It's certainly fantastic for both visibility and staying current in today's market, but how you position it is ultimately going to determine how it works for you."
A good blog can work for you whether or not you're employed. But a blog written by a job seeker desperately seeking a paycheck will not get you much traction. In fact, blogging is like many other traditional job seeking tools, says Lauren Milligan of ResuMAYDAY, a résumé writing service.
"Just like networking, blogging and developing a following should start when you are employed, rather than when you are in panic-mode," Milligan cautions.
How do you present a blog to employers?
But the rules for social media are still mostly unwritten, and you might not know how to prove you're both technologically proficient and professional. Milligan says you absolutely can do both, it's just all in the presentation.
For clients, Milligan often inserts their LinkedIn addresses in the contact section of the résumé. She suggests doing the same with your blog address. Another option she recommends is to include a mention of your blog in your career summary statement. But if neither feels right for you, feel free to bring it up in the interview.
"A common interview question is, 'What makes you unique from other candidates?'" Milligan says. "A great -- and unique -- answer would be, 'One thing that may set me apart from your other candidates is my ability to introduce a dedicated and loyal following to your company. For the past eight months, I have authored a blog that has over 2,000 readers on a weekly basis. This blog is dedicated to trends, leaders and advancements in our industry.'"
She also recommends pointing out that you have been and will always be respectful of your past employers and that your goal is about making connections. If you can put the emphasis on your growth and how it will benefit the company, while simultaneously proving it's not a place for you to vent about annoying co-workers, you'll make a good impression.
"As an employer myself, I assure all job seekers that this would weigh heavily in a candidate's favor," Milligan says.
Both Milligan and Waldo stress the importance of knowing your limits. You don't have to be an expert to write a good blog -- and pretending to be one will only turn off readers. Being humble and showing humanity will pay off for you."Anyone can be a good blogger with the right dedication and motivation," Waldo says. "You absolutely do not have to be an expert, but if you're not, don't pretend to be. That will get you in trouble. I recommend writing about something you love. It doesn't have to be career-related. As long as you are passionate about the subject you cover, that will come through in your writing and people will enjoy your blog."