Ten years ago, people used to ask : "Should we get email?" Then eventually everybody got email. Next they asked, "Do we really need a website?" Eventually, once search got good and their customers started to go online, the answer became "yes" and many businesses (but not all of them) went online. Nowadays, whenever I give a talk on blogs, wikis and Web 2.0, I get this question: "Should OUR company blog?"
The answer to that is absolutely, unequivocally, "YES".
Corporate blogs can impact almost every part of your business - internal and external, all departments, all functions. Instead of simply being JUST a corporate communications channel, they can also be used to impact almost every aspect of your business. Let's look at some of those areas by exploring what companies have done in the real world.
Sun's CEO Jonathan Schwartz says : "The perception of Sun as a faithful and authentic tech company is now very strong. What blogs have done has autheticated the Sun brand better than a billion dollar ad campaign could have done."
Blogging gives the writer good "Google rank", more than almost all other search engine optimization tricks combined. This is a result of the way blogs work mechanically - they ping the engines and ask to be re-indexed when you post something. This results in higher ranking on the search page. This one reason alone should be enough to encourage any company to blog.
You could be on the front page of Google or Yahoo! when prospects search for your services and you could save money on Search Engine Marketing
By having your smart and creative people out there blogging, they will attract more smart and creative people. Almost every Microsoft blogger interviewed has pointed to blogging's advantages as a recruiting tool.
There are two HR blogs at Microsoft giving advice on applying to Microsoft and demystiying the process.
Watch and learn. There are a lot of people who have a lot of opinions about every corporation, and they're having conversations. That's free market research. A corporation that is afraid of the participation that comes with conversation has larger problems. And rather than just viewing the blogs, you can have your people note them, debate them, discuss them, and extract lessons from them.
This is cheap qualitative research! Take advantage of it!
Blogs can act as a part of a system that sees your company engaging its customers, partners, suppliers, and employees in the discovery, ranking, and application of new product innovations throughout the business.
IBM has taken this to the extreme and created their Innovation Jam process which allowed IBMers, their clients, business partners, and family members to brainstorm online. Then they will fund up to $100M worth of follow-through on those ideas.
In a case documented by Robert Scoble a world famous blogger, DL Byron had blogged about his invention that allows people to seal anything they want between two sheets of plastic. He marketed it for biking and hiking, but other users soon found him including hazardous waste and nuclear labs, Scuba, aerospace, dairy farms, body bags, and organ donor deliveries, commercial coffee bean packaging, and a great deal more!!!
Blogs can be used to establish thought leadership. There are a lot of blogs out there it's true. But we're still at a stage where a blogger can quickly become one of the leading voices simply by being very focused on their niche.
Even in the business space, there are still relatively few top bloggers in every business category so if your content is compelling and you can market yourself to the other bloggers in your space, it is possible to become well-known in your niche relatively quickly
Community isn't a technical infrastructure. Community is a group of people with a shared interest, context, language, and history. But blogs are means to building a community of people. There are communities that emerge around certain subjects.
And a community of readers who read your blog and love it could be great positive influencers for your business!
"Losing control" of what people are saying about you!
You never HAD control of the what people say about you. People have been talking about your company for years. And now they're blogging. You can't control the message. Get over it. But you CAN join the conversation and make sure your side of the story is heard!
Concerns of Corporate Blogging
Somebody will say something bad about me/us/our product
If what people say its true its an opportunity for you to learn and improve!
And if people do say something about your product that is untrue, you have an opportunity to correct it by responding appropriately!