What this is all about, naturally
I guess that was to be expected. First, it was techie geeks, then political obsessives and journalists, followed by ‘turned’ PR and marketing wonks. And now CEOs and other executive fat cats are onto the blogosphere.
The aim of this Club is to gather CEOs who believe in the blogosphere and its extraodinary potential and to offer them a place to share with other companies leaders the experimentation they are conducting thanks to weblogs. Corporate blogging, CRM, marketing, PR, internal communication, are part of the different ways blogs are being used today, but as we all know, we are only at the begining. And who is abble to say how weblogs will affect our business tomorrow?
So far, so good. There are two ideas behind this new club:
- Creating an online resource available for every visitor who might want to learn/share how blogs could take part in a company’s development.
- Organizing bi-monthly meetings every first thursday evening of the month in Paris to meet in off line sessions.
I guess, we will have to organise them in London too. UK companies and their CEOs have some catching up to do with the bloggers across the channel, as this wiki page listing CEO blogs would suggest. Please email me at adriana at bigblog dot net, if you are an executive and blogging about your business or you know of any who do so.
Blabble is a blog research and analysis tool, giving companies access to the buzz of blogs.
We parse millions of blogs giving you access to influential thoughts on your brand dedicated to making sense out of the seemingly endless supply of blog information.
Interesting. They do not currently accept any new applications at this time while they are upgrade their infrastructure. But they will be accepting users again starting 6th September. But so far, so good. Let’s see what happens.
via BL Ochman
Update: Just signed up for the service, will report later.
Though the blog introduces Cindy Schmelky, 15, from Wayne, Penn with a picture and a quote “I love ringtones more than life”, she’s really just a figurehead for those articles as various members of the company’s team write them, according to Ringingphone co-owner Bob Bentz.
This is the first time (to the best of my knowledge) that a ringtone company has created a blog and though it does somewhat bring to mind Dr. Pepper / 7 Up’s infamous Raging Cow blog campaign - in that who’s really blogging is misleading - the content is not all self-serving, but is mixed the with some interesting articles from this industry.
That a ringtone company has a blog is a great idea. But there is no need to mislead readers into thinking the blog is written by a 15 year-old, when it’s not.
I can only agree with that. It is remarkable how the traditional marketing seems to prefer buzz generated by deceit and marketing ploys rather than attempt to create it by genuine engagement.
via Doc Searls
A very good overview of the difference between an interactive medium (blog) and ‘interactive medium’ (forum).
Commoncraft does some useful analysing focusing on Locus of Control, Authoring of New Topics, Intent, Responses, Tools, Chronology, Personal Connections, Pollution Control, Content Buckets and the future:
I believe that weblogs and message boards *are* different—different enough to happily exist together in the same online community web site. My conclusion is that online communities will use the two resources to fill two different roles. Their ability to fill independent niches will make the subtle differences between them make more sense.
Absolutely. As I have argued before a forum is like a collective drawing:
...each participant draws his own line(s) sometimes without regard for the others’ efforts. Who draws most lines wins. The result is a criss-cross of lines, overlapping shapes, in short, a mess that takes too much time to unravel to get any lasting value.
A blog is a painting that has been hung up on the wall and everyone standing around can comment on it, say how they would have done or why they like it. There is a clear hierarchy between the author of the article and the person who comments on it. No drawing of mustaches anywhere but plenty of interaction. To me this is what makes blogs so suitable for communication between companies and their audience.
There is also a very handy table to go with the comparison.
This post has made it round the blogosphere already but I still want to mark it here.
Start reading and writing blogs today to gain a competitive advantage!
There was much juicy goodness and after much deliberation the following is what I’d ‘take home’ from the presentation:
- Don’t overestimate the impact of blogging in the short term and underestimate it in the long term
- Blogging is another example of disintermediation cf. Travel Agents, Programmers, Dell
- Blogging not just for tech companies anymore… is the web just for tech companies?
- Blogs have a high Google rank because they are networked digital paper
- Link frequently to competitors and sources
- Connect with customers, speak in your voice (i.e. not 100% self promotion since that’s not a natural voice) and have a two way conversation through links and comments; take criticism in stride
One thing I have learned over the years since I emigrated to the UK from America is this: In the age of the internet, being 3000+ miles away from your family does not necessarily mean that you escape knowledge of the minutiae of their daily lives. (Just as importantly, I find that I don’t want to escape the minutiae of their daily lives. Learning about it makes the distance between us seem far less than it is.)
So of course, when my parents decided to get the carpets in their home cleaned, I knew all about it. Today, my father emailed me with a full report on how things went:
The carpet cleaning went well...The guy said it was fairly easy to do so he did a few extras like clean four rugs we have at no charge. He also left me some spot cleaner. He even cleaned our little rug we have in the garage before you go up the steps. Needless to say, he has the right idea to encourage repeat business.
Looking more closely at the site, I was surprised to find a lot of valuable information that Personal Touch is giving away for free. There’s a guide to the most common carpet stains and how to remove them, a tutorial on different styles and fibres of carpets, and tips on how to keep your carpet clean. (I never knew, before reading that, that you’re supposed to vaccum carpets in both directions. So there’s my value take-away from their website right there.)
This site ought to be a blog. Jeff and his employees could blog on a regular basis about different jobs, show satisfied customers with their clean carpets, inform and pontificate about new developments in fibres and styles, talk about disgusting or funny pet-related stains, announce special offers...there is lots of scope for good content here. Running ads in the local media is one thing. But using Personal Touch’s own medium - their website, in the form of a blog - to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and to establish themselves as experts in the field, would take their business’s success to a whole other level.
Personal Touch is selling its competence - in order to employ (and re-employ) their services, people have to believe that Jeff and his staff know their stuff, know what they’re doing, and will do a good job cleaning their carpets. Scope for repeat business is high, which is why Jeff has figured out that making customers happy is worth doing - he wants people to be pleased with his services and to evangelise his company to other potential customers. Giving them valuable content that is easily linked to and passed around, updated on a regular basis and often amusing, would make that customer evangelism a million times easier and more infectious. Air conditioning contractors are doing it, so why not carpet cleaners?
Blogs are not just suitable and beneficial for monolithic, global companies. If an evangelistic customer like my father has me, all the way in London, totally sold on this small business and its services, imagine the value in making it even easier for local customers to evangelise to local potential customers.
Personal Touch’s website oughta be a blog.
Sun Microsystems has hired the principal author of the open-source Roller Weblogger software, a move that’s part of an attempt to build closer ties with developers and customers.
Sun is encouraging use of blogs to communicate directly and efficiently with people as different as bankers and Linux users, Schwartz explains:
What better ambassadors than our own employees? And what more efficient vehicle than a network connection?
Indeed. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Simon World has a briliant line-up of 50 blogging tips: Everything you wanted to know about blogging but were afraid to ask. This one is particularly true:
44. You will encounter plenty of ignorance in this blogging caper. Much of it will come from other blogs. However even more of it will come from your friends and family. Blogging is like renovating: you find it endlessly fascinating, but no-one else gives a sh!t. They are unlikely to have even heard of blogs. It is your job to talk their ears off about it. Bamboozle them, tell them how great it is, print business cards with the URL on it. They all think your mad already.
CoolBusinessIdeas, a Singapore-based business intelligence company has built its new website around an open blog. The company publishes a free, monthly e-newsletter, collects new business ideas and innovations globally. It has expanded its reach to cater to an international audience. Adrants reports:
The blog and newsletter tracks emerging business innovations in overseas markets which businesses around the world can emulate. Written in a concise yet informal manner, the articles in the newsletter touch on business ideas such as “Micro-Purchasing”, “Supermarkets of the Future”, and “Innovation + Style = Lots of Customers”. The idea are intended to serve as inspiration for business professionals and entrepreneurs to think of how they can use these new concepts in their companies.
Apart from the intrusively long plug for their ‘free business ideas newsletter!’ and business books and whatever else they can think of to push to the hapless reader that came to read the blog, it is indeed a blog. With permalinks, trackbacks and categories and more. The annoying clump of text - you can tell I don’t like the ad, can’t you - is so long that they need to helpfully point to the blog by a heading ‘latest entry’ just where the blog begins. And the blogroll is miniscule, but these are early days.
CoolBusinessIdea have the right idea. Chunk-sized information, flexible trend-spotting and commenting, interesting and informal style can make them an easy but informative read and their blog the envy of their industry peers.
We got together this morning at tBBC HQ over muffins, fresh cut mango and copious amounts of coffee with Alan Moore and Axel Chaldecott of SMLXL, as well as Adrian Bailey and Kate Whalley of PeopleFanClub.
The bunch of us see each other fairly regularly, and I am pretty familiar with Alan and Axel’s business, but today was the first time that I had had the chance to see the nitty-gritty of what Kate and Adrian do for companies. By the end of our time together, my hand was somewhat sore from note-taking, and my head was buzzing with ideas. (No, really: I was the only one who abstained from coffee.)
One of the important points behind what Kate and Adrian do for organisations via PeopleFanClub is the fact that, in trying to improve teams and teamwork, many companies ignore completely the individual. Anyone who has ever been on a “team away day” or retreat will likely be familiar with all of the probing into how one sees the company’s values, or the team developing, or the company moving forward...with no consideration given to the individual’s values or goals or aspirations.
This reminded me of the tired line, often fed to us at sports practice when I was growing up in America, that “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team.” Total disregard for the individual for the sake of the group is taught to children as axiomatic. Leaving aside how truly disturbing that is, let us concentrate on what utter garbage the idea is. As we were all talking about it this morning, I could not help but think of someone who makes a sandwich with bread from the bakery that was once good but allowed to mould, fine meat from the butcher that has been sitting out on the counter for a few days, cheese from the fromagerie that has been poorly stored and so dried out, and organic, gourmet mayonnaise that has not been refrigerated. The person then sticks the sandwich in a plastic baggie and leaves it on the dashboard of their car in the hot sun all morning. And when they are finally hungry and take a bite of the thing, they’re surprised that it tastes like crap (and maybe makes them ill). Okay, so it’s not the most brilliant analogy, but that’s what I think of when I hear of companies who expect to produce great output with components that, while they may be of fine quality at their core, have not been treated properly and so cannot be expected to deliver the kind of results the organisation wants and needs.
Adrian and Kate also talked a bit about the idea from research done by psychologists Richard Ryan, PhD, and Edward Deci, PhD - and central to the self-determination theory - that the intrinsic motivation of individuals flourishes when three key human needs are satisfied: competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
People feel competent when they get feedback on what they say and do, and when they are able to respond effectively to challenges they face.
People feel they have autonomy when they feel they are trusted - “empowered,” even (it is a word that has been abused by far too many, but it is still appropriate) - to take initiative, to learn and develop their own skills and talents, and to explore and expand their horizons.
People feel relatedness when they can tell that others are sitting up and taking notice of the fact that they are doing good work and thinking interesting, clever thoughts.
Far be it from me to be a blog bore, but it seems fairly obvious that these three needs are all met when a company opens itself up and lets selected employees use a blog to talk to the world about what they do, what they think about what they do, what they think about what others in their field are doing, and about the new things they’d like to be doing. The benefits of blogging are not just felt in the areas of a company marketing itself and relating to the public; the very people who are producing those benefits will also feel the benefit, and - no small matter, this - deliver a tangible commercial pay-off to the organisation when their needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness are being satisfied in this way.
Oh, and you can achieve this with a blog that is either external (public) or internal (exclusively engaging those within an organisation).
So it was an interesting morning all round: I learned some new things, had some new ideas, and was further assured that there really is more to this blogging thing than most people realise - even though the b-word never actually came up.
And the muffins weren’t bad, either.Go back on the hippo's back...
Some basic rehash of the goodness of blogging (which always bears repeating but we would say that, wouldn’t we?) in an article by The Globe and Mail last week.
Apparently, blogs are going big business. And according to advocates of the technology such as devotee Jim Carroll, it is about time.
Whatever it is you do by marketing, you can do by virtue of a blog.
They’re a useful and valuable tool to build a relationship with your customers so that your brand name, what you do, who you are, is in their minds. You can do wonderful things [with blogs] if you really apply your creative thinking.
Mr Caroll is future-trends author and consultant who asserts that blogs adapted for business use have a host of applications, ranging from customer relationship management to increasing consumer awareness of one’s business on-line. Blogs also seem to attract a valued consumer demographic.
A study released by Jupiter Research last year showed that 61 per cent of Internet users who read blogs at least once a month have an annual household income of $60,000 (U.S.) or more. A recent survey conducted by U.S.-based Web ad network Blogads revealed 61 per cent of blog readers are over the age of 30, and more than 45 per cent spend five to 10 hours reading blogs each week.
Now, if I could only link this ‘blog metric’ to the concept of “prosumers”, we are rolling - marketing professionals stand aside!
Note: I found the best description of “prosumers” in the Economist feature on The future of advertising.
...there is a wider group which marketers sometimes call “prosumers”; short for proactive consumers. Some people in the industry believe this group is the most powerful of all.
Euro RSCG, a big international agency, is completing a nine-country study of prosumers, which it says can represent 20% or so of any particular group. They can be found everywhere, are at the vanguard of consumerism, and what they say to their friends and colleagues about brands and products tends to become mainstream six to 18 months later.
Such people often reject traditional ads and invariably use the internet to research what they are going to buy and how much they are going to pay for it. Half of prosumers distrust companies and products they cannot find on the internet. If they want to influence prosumers, says Mr Lepere, companies have to be extremely open about providing information.
In his piece Olympic Sized Arrogance, Dan Gillmore paints a vision of the future:
Look past today’s technology. What’s coming will utterly wreck the Big Media monopoly over Olympic images, and all Big Event images. When all spectators have a high-quality video camera in their phones, will the powers-that-be ban phones? Unlikely. But even if they could ban phones that are obvious, what will they do when we’re carrying video cameras in the buttons on our shirts, and when our eyeglasses contain phones or other transmitting devices?
This reminded me of something I observed the other night at a Madonna concert in London. All around us, people were whipping out their mobile phones and sending still photographs and video of the show to their friends and family. When the first person did this, security told her to stop. But before long, there were so many people waving their phones in the air and using them to broadcast their impressions of the gig to those not present that security gave up trying. They could not stop the flow of information - it wanted to be free and it was.
American Olympic athlete Scott Goldblatt is blogging for NJ.com and at his own personal blog - despite the International Olympic Committee’s ridiculous ban on blogging for competitors, coaches, and anyone else involved with the games. As Jeff Jarvis puts it, the IOC is saying they do not have any right to free speech and can speak only through journalists. Dan Gillmore goes further:
This is about greed, nothing more and nothing less. It is about the historically corrupt International Olympic Committee’s desire to please the giant media organizations to which it has sold “rights” to tell and show the world what is happening.