Looks like this is CK‘s week. She’s got her first blog post up on MarketingProfs, and has succeeded in hitting all the right notes! First off, Congratulations to CK for putting together a timely, well thought out, and extremely articulate post on where exactly companies are stumbling while trying to emulate the Scobles and Rubels.
The discussion she’s initiated has gotten a bevy of responses from corporate marketers who believe there’s far more to it than meets the eye. As I noted on one of my earlier posts, most well-intentioned corporate blogs die a sudden death (28% of US corporate blogs started over the past year are defunct right now) and companies STILL do not get corporate blogging as evinced by the recent Wal-Mart blogging debacle.
Here are CK’s 5 rules for Corporate Blogging that I’m sure we all agree with: Connect, Share, Be Honest, Make Friends, Be Honest (meaning apologize when wrong).
I’d just like to add my favorite 3 caveats to the practice of Corporate Blogging:
(i) Blog Responsibly
I believe the onus of preventing a blog from being attacked by frivolous lawsuits lies solely with the blogger. Brad K. opines:
Essentially, until you can keep lawyers, litigious competitors and fanatic activists from using blogged information, you haven’t gotten close to explaining why blogging is a good idea for all businesses.
Each blogger has a responsibility to blog accurately and without violating the non-confidentiality agreements that he/she is a part of, because you are answerable both to the organization that you work for, as well as to the prospect or customer who reads your blog. Here is what Jonathan Schwartz – who is trying to effect changes that will allow corporations to announce quarterly performance, or disclose a material transaction via blogs – has to say on the topic of responsible blogging:
And I’m used to holding my tongue on issues that’d be deemed material to Sun’s financial performance. Like a pending acquisition or big sale, or data related to how our quarter’s going. In a public company, there are very strict laws surrounding how information’s disclosed.
Here’s a potential solution for corporate blogs. Have a “Blogging Policy” that is to be widely distributed throughout the organization. Ensure that you have an honest conversation and regular meetings with all company bloggers, apprising them of the pitfalls of frivolous blogging. The fear of lawsuits alone is NOT sufficient reason for corporations to not blog since if you do not then your competitors or prospects or disgruntled customers WILL blog about you.
(ii) Let’s talk ROI
As for the larger question: “Why is blogging a good idea for all businesses?”, I know this is a complicated question, one that Scoble & Shel have attempted to answer many times in the past, and I’m going to repeat what they said — that blogging is as important as talking to you customers, receiving feedback from them, incorporating their suggestions to new products, etc… and makes it incredibly easy to facilitate that exchange and archive the thoughts. Lewis Green says:
Based on my experience, I wonder if corporate blogging can ever achieve the kind of authentic passion and openness that would engage employees and customers.
I, personally, do NOT know of any other communication tool that engenders the kind of “authentic passion and openness that engage employees and customers” more than a BLOG. Now having worked in the corporate side of things, I agree that WE DO need to create tools that measure the ROI of blogging and researchers like Charlene Li of Forrester are currently working on such a solution, as we blog.
(iii) Intangible Asset
Do not ask what blogging can do for you; but ask what you can do with blogging. The fact that there are very few blogs out there, represents an enormous opportunity for a company to position themself as a thought-leader in their respective field.
Examples: (i) Edelman PR is now considered an expert in the field of corporate blogging, so when a prospective corporation is scouting for PR talent who do you think they’ll first turn to. Now this could lead to a $ million deal but unfortunately blogging will not get its due since the credit would go to the sales team that closed the deal. (ii) If I were thinking of data storage systems, I’d definitely turn to my friend and blog evangelist Jeremiah (from HDS) with my questions and I know I’ll have an answer rightaway.
From a business development perspective, I can tell you that blogging is one of the best sources to evangelize and thereby generate warm leads. Moreover, blogging will speak to your core target audience or prospective customer base more effectively since the readers of blogs are already actively researching for information (Pull vs. Push)
In my opinion, the benefits offered by corporate blogging far outweigh the pitfalls that is common with any ascendant technology or tool.
Companies like Adobe, Dell, and Wal-Mart are getting into the blogosphere because its imperative for their competitive advantage. CK’s post is a reminder for corporate marketers to do things right and to also blog for the right purposes. Blogging is inescapable for corporations and with a renewed focus on figuring out the ROI of blogging, corporate marketers can soon start blogging without fear and with a reason.