Friday, May 04, 2007

Business Blogging

Recently I have been speaking to executives about getting involved in the conversations about their companies and products that are already happening in the blogosphere. Everyone wants a shorthand for thinking about the "best practices" and so I have been working on boiling down my recommendations to a few simple and easy-to-remember guidelines. I thought I'd throw them into the blog here and perhaps generate some interest in a conversation -- can we as a community together refine a set of messages to use in speaking with folks that really should be involved in blogging but aren't yet because they need help understanding the why, how, etc?

First, I talk about how the blogosphere is about peers and that the challenge any company has in joining the conversation is that they start out by being something other than a peer. So the first key is that joining the conversation has to be perceived as authentic. Here is my simplified equation:

access + accountability = authenticity

The point I am trying to communicate is that real executives have to join the conversation so that the other participants in the conversation feel like they are talking to a real person who actually can speak for the company and influence outcomes.

Secondly I talk about what it takes to be a good citizen in the blogosphere:

1. Listen

2. Engage -- correct inaccuracies, respond to issues

3. Be a conversation leader

Participation means joining the whole conversation not just the parts you want to join.

I make the point that there will typically be a whole range of voices out there -- from supporters to detractors and everything in between. Most people are in the middle but you can't ever hope to win these people over in a conversation if you merely ignore detractors. Certainly some of the most extreme will never listen and never change their views and there is typically nothing that can be done to change those people's minds. But their issues left un-addressed will capture mindshare amongst the middle in the conversation. So it is always worthwhile to pay attention and provide reasonable responses (and corrections) for those extreme voices - even if the point isn't to win those people over.

This is just a start -- very interested to hear from other folks also struggling with how to explain this medium to others.

1 comment:

BobG said...

I can hardly believe you haven't heard from anybody Ted...but this is a big sea on which we are adrift. I just finished reading your post on Pascal's Wager and loved it. It had been a long time since I'd thought of it :) Got to this post through a newsletter from SNCR (via email) which I must have signed up for..though I don't recall where or when.

Your authenticity equation is clear. It does little good for an organization to assign someone on behalf of the leader. There might be some orgs that are flat enough to allow everyone equal influence - but very few. If it is working in your talks - cool. If not, have you thought about access + influence = authenticity? What's intriguing to me is the elevated degree of transparency that becomes evident. Unless one chooses to remain anonymous - which I don't quite understand.

Your good citizen guidelines are right on. I especially applaud you for putting listen first. We humans are not very good at it :) I am fairly new in this online social media conversation. It is an enormous learning environment.

My struggles begin and end, at this moment, in explaining the value of creating a "voice" around the product and service. Push comes to shove and the ultimate question - "where is the revenue generation of this activity?" rears its head. I'm OK with the question - and the elusive I'd like to hear from others. Thank you for the post. Hears to the conversation.