Friday, September 19, 2008

Blogworld Expo 2008 - Corporate Blogging: Myths and Realities

This morning at Blogworld Expo, we heard a panel discussion about how corporations are using blogs to connect with their custoemrs. It focused primarily on external, Internet-accessi ble blogs. The panelists were Paula Berg of Southwest Airlines, Mario Sundar on LinkedIn and Chris Baggott of Compendium Blogware. The session was dominated by questions, answers and discussions with memberws of the audience. That interaction made it particularly valuable. What follows are my notes from the discussion.

Myths and realities:
• My customers don’t read blogs. Reality: Southwest discovered this was definitely not the case. Their blog, Nuts About Southwest has turned into an informal, but useful, focus group. It's a means by which they maintain contact with their customers.
• Blogging is risky. Reality: Not blogging is riskier. The discussion about you and your products is going on out there on the Internet Tubes. You can ignore it and let damaging conversations spread or you can take part in the conversation and make sure your message gets out there.
• Blogging has to be professional. Reality: Blogging is all about your personal voice. If your blog reads like a press release, you lose credibility.
• Producing content is too time consuming. Reality: Not producing content can be fatal. Blogs are a way to keep your information at the top of search engines and give your customers and potential customers access to your products and message.
• You shouldn’t moderate content or comments. Reality: Unmoderated contents can be fine for some sites, but you need to keep an eye on the discussion and intervene when it turns nasty.
• Blogging has no real ROI. Reality: Marketing in general has a very nebulous ROI. It's as much about managing your corporate brand as anything else and that's worth quite a bit even if you can't quantify it.

Random notes from the session:
• The book Groundswell was recommended by the panelists.
• The LinkedIn corporate communications team uses their blog to educate their users about their product.
• You need to establish the purpose of your blog so that it doesn't twig off into random topics. For example, the Southwest Airlines blog was a chance to give their customers a behind the scenes look at their company. It's importasnt to keep in mind that the blog can evolve into something much more as you engage in conversations with your readers.
• It’s important that the culture of the company should shine through on the blog.
• The panel did not advocate CEO blogging – the employee bloggers have much more passion and credibility, but some of the audience members thought it was very important.

This was an excellent session, particularly because of the interactions with the audience.

Paula and Mario.

1 comment:

Mario said...

Thanks for the kind words. It was quite an enjoyable session made possible by your participation.