Corporations Blogging - Cautiously

At the same time as a few more top-ranked companies are dipping their toes into corporate blogging -- Delta Air Lines (Under the Wing), Chrysler (Voices of Chrysler), and Kodak (A Thousand Words) (thanks to colleague Brendan Hodgson for noticing) -- the ever resourceful Strumpette points out that according to a WebTrends study ". . . there are plenty of business-blog skeptics in the U.S., as well. Less than 6 percent of the Fortune 500 and 2 percent of the Forbes 200 Best Small Companies blogged in April and June 2006, respectively. Bottom line: Most companies aren't blogging because they're not convinced it works and they think that there are too many associated risks."

First of all, the whole business of the "risk" in corporate blogging is over-stated.

There are a few high profile cases of corporate blogging foot-in-mouth disease. But senior executives as a breed aren't idiots and while some (a lot?) may write poorly they are sensitive to the impact of what they say on their customers, employees and markets. They are innately careful and that care will reduce risk. Corporate legal counsel may argue that silence rather than thoughtfulness is the best risk reduction strategy, but silence has never done much to build reputation especially when honesty and transparency are now expected corporate values. The risks of corporate blogging are certainly no greater than poor valuation of goodwill on a company's balance sheet.

Let's also be clear about what "works" means in the social media context.

Can a corporate blog sell more products, raise or defend share price, increase recruitment and retention, or better position the company with government. The jury is still out on that. But for the whole cohort of publics who are concerned, interested in or involved with a company's social behavior or personality, a corporate blog moves the trust needle even if only slightly. On the assumption that the whole blog isn't a lie (and if it is it won't last long) then it offers a deeper look into corporate character:it gives shape to the qualities that are usually touted in a company's vision and value statement: it makes conversations with new publics possible: it may create a community of interest or even a neighborhood of friends.

As Marc Andreessen wrote a couple of months ago "one of the best things about blogs is how they enable a conversation among people with shared interests."

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