March 1, 2005 | The Wall Street Journal

When GreenCine Inc. launched an online journal two years ago, the San Francisco online DVD-rental company hoped that a steady diet of film reviews, festival dispatches and filmmaker interviews would energize its community of cinephiles, turn regulars onto new movies and attract more members.

It worked. The company’s blog, GreenCine Daily, sparked a 20-fold rise in hits on the GreenCine Web site to about one million a month. Even better, films critiqued by the blog’s two writers are often snapped up by renters. Despite little marketing, membership numbers and revenue have doubled in the past year.

The blog as business tool has arrived.

Some eight million Americans now publish blogs and 32 million people read them, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. What began as a form of public diary-keeping has become an important supplement to a business’s online strategy: Blogs can connect with consumers on a personal level — and keep them visiting a company’s Web site regularly.

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