Posted by an Honored Guest
Well, rather than me go on, how 'bout a few words from the author, Robert Bly. He's our guest columnist today.
By way of introduction: Bly is an award winning marketer and author. He has more than 25 years experience in copywriting. He's the author of more than 60 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing.
Ironically, he is also a widely read and popular blogger. In his new book Blog Schmog, Bly takes a refreshing look at the blogging phenomenon and its impact on marketing and modern culture. Robert holds the phenomena up to a harsh light... and then gives practical advise on how to approach it. He cuts thru the hype revealing not only blogging's enormous potential but also its limitations.
Without further ado... it is my distinct pleasure to introduce Robert Bly.
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There were a couple quotes that make me think that Robert may be missing the mark.
First, he says, "Or is it – as I suspect -- an utter waste of time? A pure vanity publication that won’t pay you back even one thin dime for your effort?" This, to me, says that he does not see a blog as a viable marketing tool. While he is entitled to this opinion, I choose to disagree.
He goes on to say, "Now here’s my hesitancy in recommending blogs as a marketing tool: I have yet to find a single marketer who says that a business blog has gotten him a positive ROI, or return on investment." I think that Hugh Macleod (Gaping Void, Stromhoek, English Cut, etc) would take issue with that. I think that Robert Scoble, who truly made a name and brand for himself with a blog, would take issue with that.
He quotes Deb Weil in defining a blog as “A blog is an online journal." He then explains that if we want a journal, a notebook may be better than online. This definition is used a lot and, I feel, is incomplete. Yes, a blog is an online journal, but any site can be called an online journal (technically). The true power of a blog comes from the ability to post comments, feedback and build a conversation around that blog.
Now, I haven't read Robert's book, so I don't know if he does go around and cite instances where he does recommend blogs. I don't know if he is railing against blogs in total or just the hype around them right now. I think it's dangerous to dismiss blogs whole-cloth because they are one of the key tools in redefining what marketing is.
I agree with Kevin's points and would add these comments:
Firstly, look at www.dooce.com - although not a corp blog it is a good case where blogging has brought in enough income to give up traditional 'work'.
The bit of this post I have to take the most issue with is this bit
The second problem with blogs is one of distribution.
With an e-zine, once the reader subscribes, he gets the e-zine delivered to him electronically every week or every month -- or however often you send it.
But with a blog, the reader has to go out and proactively look for it. And since your contributions to your blog may be irregular and unscheduled, he has no way of knowing when something new of interest has been added.
I don't know if this is a genuine mistake or simply ignorance but I'm afraid that this is just plain wrong! Anyone can very simply add a blog to a newsfeed that they can check daily (bloglines or newsgator are 2 I use) and the whole idea of blogging is not just what is being written/said and how it's written/said - it's how its distributed - surely the RSS method is one of the killer apps of the blogging community - you see a blog you like whether from a link or referred to by a friend and you subscribe by a click of the mouse - simple!
Now the correction is out of the way may I say how much I disagree with the opinon here? Alot! The fact that companies haven't yet found their voice doesn't mean they won't. I think that companies will have to experiment a lot with blogs and how to interact with the blogging community; writers and reader that is.
I firmly believe that corporate blogging will become as important and relevant, when it comes to increasing the intangible assets of a company like it's reputation, which is the basic building blocks of a brand, as good old sales, bus dev and marketing are now to the tangible assets.
Once the companies of today understand that their reputation can be substantially improved by this activity then we will see some interesting corp blogs coming out. The big problem at the moment is that companies are scraed that the revers is true and if they get it wrong they can affect their reputation aversely - which isn't a good thing ;-) !! Remember what the Warren said - basically and not verbatim - 'lose me money and I'll forgive you, lose me or my company it's reputation and I'll come down on you like a ton of bricks.'
Surely the title of Mr. Bly's next book would be more positive and be thus: What blogging could do for your company if done properly?
Thank you for the ability to comment.
Bly's observation that most business blogs "seem to be the private idiosyncratic musings of an individual, without censure or editing of any kind" is a shame if it's true. But I can't imagine why someone would want to post private musings in a company blog. If it's going on, it's definitely a bad way to utilize a potent publishing mechanism.
As he notes from other sources, blogs do rank very well with search engines. A blog posting should be toward that end - to help sell your service or product, promote your company, and be an open means of communication with the customer. Not a diary. You want to write a diary, start a personal blog. Postings in a business blog should be to provide useful content to your shareholders, potential and current clients, and others within your industry. Posting should be valuable enough to want to make people come back for more. It allows them to find out who's behind the company and what the company's goals and vision are for the product or service.
If you're writing a ego-trip diary blog on your company's time, you're wasting something that could be promoting your company and your ideas.