Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blogworld Expo 2008 - How to Implement Blogs & Social Media Strategies for Big Business

This was another excellent panel discussion in the business segment of Blogworld. The moderator was Michael Rubin from GasPedal and the panelists were Michael Brito of Intel, Hillary Weber from Kaiser Permanente and John Andrews from WalMart.

Here are my (somewhat) raw notes from the session. This was a very lively session with lots of interaction from the audience. A Twitter feed where tweets with the #bwe08 tag were collected was displayed on the screen behind the panel and gave the audience the ability to ask questions in real time. The Twitter feed rapidly outstripped the panel's ability to answer the questions, so the Michael Rubin picked the best questions to keep the discussion going. The use of Twitter was very effective.

• WalMart bloggers focus on the message of the WalMart brand – they blog all about saving money and being frugal.
• A question arose quickly about the role of blog evangelists - does every company need a Robert Scoble? It was generally agreed that you needed a high-power champion of web 2.0. Social media is not easy in the corporate world because of the cooperation required across the organization and you have to work with people who are uncomfortable with the technology. The Kaiser group had a doctor who created their farmers markets and created a newsletter and then moved from their to blogging and did it all in his spare time. He was Superman! The guy was passionate and involved. His work evolved into the first corporate blog.
• On the Internet, Intel monitors posts and tweets and sends their people wherever the conversation is happening to make sure the company is not misrepresented.
• I asked if it was necessary to have management and bloggers make use of web 2.0 outside of work as well as within work. Hillary Weber person thought it critical that their seniors and others use web 2.0 outside of work. Their uneducated managers are kicking and screaming about the techanagoly and are a real impediment to progress. WalMart managers don’t know anything about it, but the ones who get involved did go out and get twitter accounts, blogger accounts and so on. Intel – it’s crucial that the managers use the tools and understand them.
• What companies are doing it right? Dell is doing it well. Ideastorm is a good example. Southwest Airlines was a good example. Lego seems to have a good one. Stoney Fields Farms have a good one. Wells Fargo has a good one. WF started talking about their history first and not banking. BestBuy does it well and McDonalds does it well also – BMW, too. They make use of their workforce and users. Home Depot was another good one.
• Home Depot was directing people on where to get help during the hurricanes and used Twitter for that so that cell phone users could get at the information ata a time when people at home wouldn’t have power. Very clever.
• Line level employees are a much better source of blogging than the management they have a better connection with the customers. The higher you go up the food chain the less time they have to blog. Worker bloggers are more credible than manager bloggers.
• Being authentic is crucial.
• The Kaiser blog is definitely on brand – helping people thrive is the message stated in any number of ways.
• The Intel bloggers are working full time on other projects. This one bothered me. In the corporate orld, nothing gets done unless there is money put behind it. Unless your bloggers are given time dedicated to blogging, you'll keep getting blog posts in dribs and drabs and have to constantly harass them for content.
• Johnson and Johnson has started a health channel on youtube. WalMart has a youtube channel with 40+ videos on it.
• None of them work for companies where time is set aside deliberately for blogging or sharing information. Instead, they’re making the tools super cool and hoping that the workforce uses them. That seems doomed to fail to me. Hope is not a strategy.

John Andrews, Hillary Weber and Michael Brito

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