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Some important bloke on some important blog.
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November 24, 2004
Wednesday
GM takes our advice - sort of
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Products & Services • Brand blogs 
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A couple of weeks ago, I critiqued the GM Smallblock blog here and in the comments of this post, along with Paul Woodhouse. Looking at the GM Smallblock blog now, I see that they have taken my advice on adding author names to posts...though the posts are still marred by a “posted by guest columnist” label at the bottom. Oh, well - take what you can get, I guess.

Michael Wiley, the GM employee in charge of GM’s blogging efforts, seemed quite hesitant to take any professional advice on how to improve upon the Smallblock blog. Indeed, his response when it was pointed out that engaging the petrolheads in the blogosphere would vastly extend the blog’s reach and effectiveness was as follows:

We fully understand the network effect possible with blogs but we are in no hurry to be everywhere.

GM fully understands nothing when it comes to blogging. You don’t have to be everywhere, nor should you want to be. But you do need to engage your curve of the blogosphere, and there is no business case for not doing so.

Link via Tinbasher

November 18, 2004
Thursday
Blogging smoke
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Products & Services • Brand blogs 
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Blowing Smoke is an independent film about what men talk about when women aren’t around. And when it cames to talking, the people behind the film want to carry on the conversation on their very own blog:

This is where Blowing Smoke’s cast and crew talk about all that is related to the experience of making the movie and the technology involved. It is also a conversation with those who enjoyed watching it as much as we did making it. This blog has no non-smoking section.

And, in fact, you may notice that the entire web presence is based around the blog. You can watch the trailers, download wallpapers and movie stills and read about the cast (although some bits there still need tweaking), which is pretty much the functionality of a movie site. Only for the Blowing Smoke people it means that they can update any part of the web presence as and when they feel like it. No need to go into templates, just add a cast bio, or a sidebar link, or a download as if you were putting up another blog post. How do I know this? Coz our tech and design guru built it that way…

But the real deal is the blog, where hopefully most of the cast will talk about the film that has quite a few things to recommend it. Not to everyone’s taste, perhaps, but I am sure that there is an audience for a film that involves cigars, poker, a scantily clad chick and an occassional firearm. All in the best possible taste, of course. grin

The producer explains his thinking behind the film, which was produced using some groovy digital technology that makes for a truly stunning quality of the picture. I hope they get to talk about that on the blog eventually.

So there it is, a film blog that intends to engage the audience rather than stream things at it. Let’s see how it goes.

image

November 12, 2004
Friday
Smallblock blog redux
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Products & Services • Brand blogs 
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I swear, I do read other blogs besides Tinbasher, Butler Sheet Metal‘s blog - it just happens that a lot of interesting stuff is being discussed there.

Case in point: Paul Woodhouse, Butler’s blogger/businessman extraordinare, and I are talking to Michael Wiley, who is in charge of GM’s Smallblock blog (which we have written about previously), about what is missing from that blog. Michael seems a little defensive about the blog, but I’m sure he wants it to work as effectively as possible - so I hope he takes on board Paul’s comments and my suggestions.

If blogging for companies was a no-brainer - and we have established that it can be damned difficult to get it right without proper guidance from experts - the Big Blog Company would have no reason to exist. If experts give you free advice, it is - to put it mildly - worth hearing us out. 

November 11, 2004
Thursday
A business blogger on why businesses should blog - and how
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Products & Services • Brand blogs 
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Blog. Don’t Blag is a great piece of blog evangelism from a business owner who has seen the benefits to his business of blogging. Paul Woodhouse - about whom we have written previously - writes:

Your web presence lies. Everybody does it. You aren’t the only one who’s built an all singing, all dancing website with more bells and whistles than a schoolful of referees whilst your actual workspace resembles a bombed-out Anderson shelter.

Initially, the ability to be able to present your business as you’ve always dreamed of is intoxicating. But it’ll come back to haunt you in the long run - mark my words. You need to present your business as it is now otherwise you’ll find yourself deluged with enquiries for work you can’t do, or worse still, no enquiries at all. Let a blog make you honest.

But what about metrics? comes the perennial cry.

Before I started up The Tinbasher again, the Butler Sheetmetal site had been bookmarked twice. This week alone it’s been bookmarked fourteen times. We’ve also received as many hits this week as the whole of August and September combined. I appreciate arguments can be made about of all this, but that’s not my point. More people are visiting the site since the reincarnation of this blog and more people want to return to the site too.

I read alot about metrics and ROI (return on investment) and I agree you can’t measure it scientifically. But let’s be perfectly frank, you don’t need to. I see hits going up, stickyness going up and, most importantly, enquiries going up. It’s out of your hands once your salesperson or sales department gets hold. But at least they’ve got something to get hold of! And don’t claim you can’t write or don’t have the time. You can look at your blog in the same way as you’d look at a business meeting with a potential client.

There is more, all very quotable - go read the whole thing.

November 09, 2004
Tuesday
Just trying to keep the customers satisfied?
Perry de Havilland • Blogs & Blogging • Products & Services • Brand blogs 
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Are you old enough to remember the lyrics of that old Simon and Garfunkle song?  It is not easy to satisfy people.  And in some markets, it is damn near impossible.

The computer games market is ‘one of those’.  All you have to do is hang out for a while in one of the many forums set up by games companies to discover as soon as your company announces it is planning to release a patch to improve things, you are reviled for not releasing it yesterday.  If you release it promptly, you are criticised for not addressing ‘this’ and ‘that’ as well, but if you wait for that, you are screamed at for not waiting until pet peeve number 289 was also addressed.  If the patch fixes the way the game plays, you are moaned at for ruining some favoured exploit, or for not ending that exploit which is ‘ruining the game’.  And all of this in the sort of incoherent and intemperate language that only bad tempered teenage old boys are capable of.  Moreover dissenting opinions are shouted down and discussions meander off-topic constantly.  And yes, they really do think that their £29.99 game entitles them to several thousand man hours of personal tech support, personal player tips and weekly free downloadable new content… which is why I think games forums are a vastly overused tool.

One of the attractions of forums for a company is that on the face of it, they are inexpensive and self-perpetuating.  You set them up and the punters just talk amongst themselves without you having to get yet another set of content providers on the company payroll.

Well, yes and no.  Certainly a forum is a splendid way to take pressure of fa tech support department by allowing knowledgeable customers to provide free tech support answers to other customers.  However I must say that I think ‘general discussion’ forums are more often than not really quite ghastly places where adolescents engage in baseless rumour mongering and peevish behaviour quite literally at company expense. To function well and not degenerate into a hateful stream of profanity, flame wars and racist taunts, you have to rigorously moderate any forum 24/7.

October 13, 2004
Wednesday
Anyone got a spare guillotine?
Jackie Danicki • Products & Services • Brand blogs 
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Paul Woodhouse of Tinbasher is calling on his readers to help him find a guillotine between 4′ and 6′ that will cut 2-3mm. And yes, this request is totally legit and business-related.

I have to say, that may be the most out-there blog post I have ever encountered. No surprise that it comes from the most obscure business blog I have ever read. Can anyone beat Tinbasher, the sheet metal blog, when it comes to obscure commercial blogs? If you can, tell me about it in the comments. 

October 12, 2004
Tuesday
Contented Cow
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Products & Services • Brand blogs 
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Yeah, it is a blog! The proprietor, Norman Butler, uses blogs to promote both his pub, the Contented Cow and his Indian restaurant, Chapati.

He publishes his menus, events, blogs about events, adds pictures, even moblogs. It looks like there are contented customers in there somewhere.

image

Markets are conversations… continued
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Products & Services • Brand blogs • Marketing & PR 
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Sean Callahan writes about blogs and the conversations they enable at BtoB Magazine. My favourite bit:

“My interest in blogs in general flows out of my perception that society has become massively connected,” said Simon Phipps, Sun Microsystems’ chief technology evangelist, who has three blogs himself. “I agree with `The Cluetrain Manifesto’: Markets have become conversations.”

The implication is that markets, prior to the rise of the Internet, were essentially monologues. Today, with the rise of technology in general and the Internet in particular, markets are increasingly becoming dialogues, and blogs represent a perfect example of the trend.

via Steve Rubel

October 11, 2004
Monday
Why not use the blogosphere?
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Products & Services • Brand blogs 
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ProBlogger offer tips for bloggers about How to explode your blog’s traffic by writing Articles. Well, nothing new there.. but wait, he means them to write articles for other publications e.g. ezines, that will then give ‘free exposure’ to his blog and drive audience to it. I do not understand. Why not engage other bloggers by writing quality articles on your blog instead, as God intended when he created blog?

This seems to completely ignore the whole network of bloggers and their audiences. There may be many blogs with very distributed traffic, which makes one’s ‘blog promotion’ harder in the traditional marketing sense but so what? Every blog has its own corner of the blogosphere. Getting its name and content around that world, can be the most effective ‘word of mouth’ you can imagine. Why? Because it’s credible.

via BL Ochman

September 28, 2004
Tuesday
Business blog we love: Cracked Cauldron Spillings
Jackie Danicki • Products & Services • Brand blogs • Marketing & PR 
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It’s all about our hungry customers, says the mastermind behind Cracked Cauldron Spillings, a bakery that a mother-daughter team is breaking their backs to open in Oklahoma in five weeks. And they are using a blog to tell the story of where they are, how they got there, and where they are going.

It makes for fascinating, affinity-building reading. Stuffed full of great content, with stories of sourcing cheese from a local dairy farmer, naming their sourdough starters and the difficulties of funding a new business, the CCS blog is an addictive read. In fact, these two are canny enough to understand precisely the importance of storytelling

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