Blogs Mean Business

Published Date
01 - Jan - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jan - 2006
Blogs Mean Business
Blog, one of the fastest growing applications on the Internet, is increasingly making its presence felt in the corporate world. Generally viewed as an online journal that records anything and everything that people think-be it about their new car or someone else's, blogs have moved on to become one of the most potent marketing, PR and CRM tools a company can have.

It is easy to customise a blog and companies worldwide are quickly picking up the trend. Besides using the blog to promote themselves, corporate offices use it to maintain a certain level of transparency within their ranks. Companies can also exploit blogs to engender strong relationships with their customers and the media.

Here, we attempt to answer some basic questions: What are the uses of a blog? Why is it smart business to have a corporate blog? Who in the company must be allowed to blog? What are the rules that must be followed while maintaining a corporate blog? What sort of companies would gain the most if they set up a blog?

Let's Get Started!
A blog is very similar to a Web page that can be updated using a simple WYSIWYG (what you see/what you get) interface. Most major Internet companies and portals host a blog service such as Google's Blogspot and MSN's MSN Spaces, that have tens of millions of registered users.

Various methods can be applied if you want to set up a corporate blog. Blogging tools can be found on the Internet, and a few can be downloaded for free. The article in this section last month (Digit, December 2005) spoke about setting up a wiki at work.

All wikis come loaded with a blogging application, so you don't need to set up a separate blog if you've already have a wiki installed. Most content management systems today come with a blogging application that can be installed. So don't bother downloading a blogging application if your company's Web site has a one installed.

A few firms also opt to let their employees and management post their blogs on independent service providers such as Xanga and Blogspot. However, if the corporate blog you plan to set up aims to improve the branding of your company or advertise its products, then it would be ideal to have a blogging application installed on your Web site.

Corporate blogging can be an effective recruitment tool as blogs detailing work lives of employees may attract candidates

Put Blogging To Good Use
Ideally, blogs should be more than just an extension of the marketing and advertising arm of the company. It's unreasonable to expect people to repeatedly visit your blog if it's used to promote the company or its services. Corporate offices can use blogs to regularly post company news. Macromedia ( used blogging to their advantage when business slackened.

Macromedia's blog acted as a forum for managers to discuss new product launches, to place  products before developers and users and obtain feedback. It enabled a one-to-one correspondence between consumers and  project leaders. The blog also gave links to the best Flash examples, interesting tips on using the software, and instances of the most irritating bugs in the software.

The result of the interaction on blogs is that it reduces the feeling of an "Us vs Them" that most consumers have towards any corporate entity. Additionally, a blog builds up a certain level of communication within the company. IBM, for instance, has an internal podcasting system, which puts up audio files on the Web that can be downloaded and played as a radio broadcast. Employees use these podcasts to air their views on an open platform, and IBM claims to have acquired a few good product ideas through this service.

While company Web sites provide detailed technical specifications about their products, a blog might offer new information due to its interactive nature. A blog can cover smaller issues that people are eager to discuss, possibly creating a loyal fan base in the process.

Another good example is Apple, which set up a blog ( to explain the intricacies of their new photo-editing suite, Aperture. The blog was a personal interaction between the project lead, Joe Smith, and users who were eager to know what Apple offered and how the software differed from that of its competitors.

Corporate blogging could also act as a recruitment tool. For instance, a blog that details the work lives of employees or projects the company is undertaking may attract individuals who are considering working with the company. A company could put up details of its management style, focus and future prospects. This could aid prospective employees make a decision.
What Do I Post Online?
So how does one determine whether a corporate business blog is well-written? The best blogs are lively, relevant, straightforward, informal yet precise. The content should be well presented. Moreover, people who are in a position to answer queries posted by viewers must update the corporate blog. Regular updates prevent boredom and complaints. It helps if the blog also gives readers insight into the interest areas of the author. explain the features of its new products

However, the author must bear in mind that information given on the blog should be consistent with the official line of the company. Of course, sensitive company details are not to be divulged. Some companies such as Microsoft and HP let employees blog without too many restrictions. Others, such as Macromedia and Apple have blogs maintained by project leaders and business heads. Microsoft now has a blog ( that's updated regularly by a senior level manager in the consumer relations department. This blog aims to keep a dialogue on between the company and the consumer.

Nowadays, it has becomes rather necessary for the CEO to maintain a blog if he is unable to have a one-to-one interaction with all employees of the company on a weekly basis. CEOs such as Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, an NBA team, use blogs to expand on the news stories published in the papers about his company. Others like Rajesh Jain of Netcore Solutions use them ( to focus on trends in the Indian IT industry.

All The Bare Facts
With all that a blog can do, it's easy to overlook the constraints that a corporate blog might face. Blogs, by their very definition, bring publishing power down to an individual. A blog is supposed to be a freewheeling discussion between the blogger and the reader. However, official policies of the company may be otherwise.

Few companies would relax their stringent media policies and allow open dialogue between employees and outsiders. No company can be comfortable with the idea of sensitive information being given to the public for ready consumption. This, in turn, makes the whole idea of a blog ineffective. Despite there being blog tools which have embedded levels of permission and accessibility, corporate offices are apprehensive of the security these offer.

Software companies, media firms and other organisations would do well to set up their own blog. It's in such a scenario that enterprises can benefit as they can formulate their code of conduct and media policies keeping in mind the emerging trend of blogging. After all, blogs are an open forum to discuss the company's ideas with the consumers. As long as technical rigours are worked out, corporate blogs can prove to be a very effective means of communication to the advantage of the company.

Ten Cardinal Rules of Corporate Blogging 
1.   Be authentic
2.   Be an unmatched resource
3.   Once you start, don't stop
4.   Keep it relevant
5.   Measure your effectiveness
6.   Monitor other blogs
7.   Trust your employees
8.   Use blogs for knowledge management
9.   Use wikis for employee and customer collaboration
10. Develop an organisational content strategy

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