Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Corporate Blog Challenge

Click for bigger, printable, stealable version.

Having assisted companies in setting up and administering blogs, I know it’s challenging to convince them of the need to be transparent, less stodgy and a little “uncorporate” if they want to (get ready) “maximize their presence in the social media space.” Most of the blogs I helped get established are miserable failures now because the companies either a) gave up on frequent posting or b) only wanted to be rah-rah vehicles, self-promoting and basically devoid of personality. The authors also weren’t going out to other blogs, boards and forums and making relevant comments that directed readers back to them.

I recently visited the corporate blog of a worldwide company. It is well-designed, has many expert authors and frequent postings. (One author has over 800 posts.) They’ve employed all the appropriate tag mechanisms and social media link widgets. They incorporate plenty of text links, images and the navigation is intuitive. But nothing is happening interactively. I am hard pressed to find a single comment on the entire blog. There is no “two-way” happening. The posts read more like little articles and they appear to have been sterilized. I’m starting to wonder if the blog is merely search engine fodder, because clearly, there’s no “conversation” going on. Comments are also monitored heavily, which is generally expected of a corporate blog, but I submitted an (somewhat) innocuous comment last Friday and it has yet to appear, perhaps because it was (somewhat) humorous and not in keeping with this corporation’s communications guidelines.

Corporate guidelines should be relaxed to a degree if you’re going to get any interaction from your company's blog. For legal reasons, you can’t have your authors going off on rants like a private blogger is free to do, but at the same time you should allow your authors (and commenters) the ability to speak with some candor.

The corporate blog I visited has a 150 word paragraph of fine print above the comment box. It's full of legalese, with phrases like “collect, process, use,” “personally identifiable information,” “worldwide in perpetuity,” and “without notice to you and without compensation.”

I mean, c’mon. I just want to comment. But this is one example of why corporate America is having a hard time getting a handle on “Web 2.0.” (Kill me if I ever use that term again.) In the interest of sales and marketing (and in the interest of covering their asses legally) they’ve pretty much killed the conversation.

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  • It's because blogs aren't truly reflective of their companies and brands aren't truly reflective of company values. Otherwise they could lay it out on the line, right?

    By Anonymous Chris, at March 14, 2008 at 1:55 PM  

  • So maybe there's no point in a company blog, eh Chris?

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at March 14, 2008 at 4:37 PM  

  • Agreed. I actually plan on writing a paper soon on how indie musicians laid the groundwork for general marketers on how to communicate with consumers, but marketers can't achieve it because of the disconnect between company and brand. As a result, their blogs come off as marketing speak at best or deceitful most often.

    By Anonymous Chris, at March 14, 2008 at 4:40 PM  

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