BusinessWeek Says "Blogs Will Change Your Business"
By Shari Worthington
You may have shrugged off blogs until now, but
when the cover story of BusinessWeek
starts with this headline, it's time to pay attention. Why? Because blogs have
moved beyond the realm of politics and are now engaging the corporate world.
The world of corporate blogs, aka business blogs or b-blogs, is a bit different
from personal ramblings. You won't hear about the antics of the family pet or
Susie's latest grades. Instead, you can find out about interesting technology
developments, comment on new product ideas, chit chat with product managers
or other company employees, etc.
Take General Motors and their FastLane
Blog. This is a public web site where GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz casually
discusses some of the goings-on at the company. He covers reorganizations, his
hopes for new features and models, sales numbers, even a few controversial issues
like their run-in with negative reviews at the Los Angeles Times. Comments on
his postings are also visible to all and come from inside the company as well
as from dealers and customers. All in all, this "test blog" Bob's
been running has turned into a success. He's decided to continue the effort
after receiving both rave reviews and insightful comments from customers. That
helps the company as well as Bob's standing in it.
There are currently over 9 million blogs with thousands more forming every
day. You never know when or where a blog will start. The next one may come from
inside your company. One of your engineers or a customer service person may
already be running a blog. In addition to their personal stories, they could
be commenting about your company, its policies, and its products.
Earlier this year, Google hired a new employee, Mark Jen, who was a blogger.
On his blog, he chronicled his search for employment and subsequent hiring by
Google. Once employed, Mark continued to discuss all sorts of issues, including
his salary and healthcare benefits. Google was taken by surprise and decided
this was too much disclosure for their likes. So Mark Jen no longer works for
Google. And now Google has more formal rules for its employees who blog. Their
corporate blog is interesting reading, as well.
Before things get out of hand for you, create a formal code of ethics for your
company's bloggers (whether officially sanctioned or not). Promise honest communication
and timely response, and make sure everyone uses common sense when posting.
You want to engage customers and prospects with your blog, not give away the
corporate jewels. Forrester Research's Charlene Li provides a good starting
point with her "Blogging
Policy Examples." GM's FastLane
Blog used her guidelines to create its own.
Once you've created your own guidelines, start thinking about how your company
can harness the power of this explosive communication medium. Corporate blogs
are great for:
... and more. Once you've decided to take the next step, research the tools
available, then work with a group that can help you find the right people in
your company to blog. Bloggers need to be good communicators who are experts
in their subject area. They also need to have the right kind of voice that will
blend with and support your company's brand. While most blogging tools are easy
to work with, you could end up with a PR disaster on your hands if you don't
have the right people writing the blog.
B-Blogs and Microsites: The Telesian communications team can help you
create a micro web site on a particular topic or set up a b-blog to interact
with prospects or customers. These specialized sites are especially powerful
for your company's technical experts who can create forums and followings. For
more information, contact Telesian at