Social Media – Corporate Blogging – Most Failing? It has to be social

Corporate blogging has been a dismal failure according to the Wall Street Journal. I have to agree that corporate folks don’t get blogging – the strategic nature of it, the power for SEO, the ability to reach users in a conversational way..bla bla bla..

I wrote a post in April that Social Media has to be social.
This story and my April post highlights what corporations are doing wrong. Producing media is great, but it has to be social. Most corporations look at blogging as some sort of check off list. That is a PR mentality not a corporate marketing mindset. Integrated marketing online is about brand activation and sustainable performance marketing. I see corporate bloggers as producing great content, but the real work is the ongoing work required to build a active affinity group. This is where the PR departments fail. PR departments are used to running around (like a cheerleaders) posting comments to comments instead of thinking about why people are reading blogs. Users want value not a cheerleader.

Content is the value.

I posted the following Social Media Value Chain for CMOs in April and I’ll share it again. Here it is.

Update: After reading Ed Cone’s blog post on the subject I wanted to post my comment on his blog here. Note: Ed is a great bellweather due to his knowledge and experience in blogging and observing the blogging paradigm develop since 2000.

Here is Ed’s post on this topic (worth reading) and below is my comment on his blog.

Great post. So right on. Feed the beast and deliver value to the audience. No BS marketing crap that the user came to the blog to avoid.

Users are gravitating to the signal and don’t want more noise. Users are running from noise.

Deliver signal and blogging works. Problem is most companies don’t know how to delvier the signal which brings up another problem – they don’t know their audience. Ouch: got to step one – marketing 101


Author: John

Entrepreneur living in Palo Alto California and the Founder of SiliconANGLE Media

15 thoughts on “Social Media – Corporate Blogging – Most Failing? It has to be social”

  1. There used to be a few early tech CEO’s that published on their company newsletters. Some had a CEO page on the Web Sites in the 90’s. They were good. What happened to good? I know that some of those guys and gals wrote detailed outlines and had guys like me write the copy, which would be again gone over by the Exec.

    Why did the advent of blogging screw up executive communication?

  2. Alan,
    Most companies are afraid of blogging because they don’t know what to do. Plus they might be afraid to find that they don’t know their customers. The best blogging efforts come from companies who know their customers or are eager to know who they are (and what they think).

    To me having social media in PR is big danger. PR can’t be strategic at a product level. A company’s social media supporters are their customers as well. Blogging, therefore, will allow an effective and engaged user to deliver very pointed feedback directly to a brand’s product team.

    Social media and blogging is a marketing function where PR plays a role but not the primary role. Social media and blogging are sustained efforts not firefighting or press relations like PR think it is.

    Best social media groups are run by marketing not PR. No real debate there

  3. I’m not sure I’d ever invest my time in a B2B company’s blog. When I have free time, which is not too often, I’m not going to spend it “reading up” for work.

  4. Does a product work or fulfill the claims by the company making them? What is their customer service department like? Are they friendly, helpful and nice? Do they make you ( the consumer with a question) feel stupid or do they attempt to understand and answer the question? Why should I like them as a company?

    Do they have any new plans I may want to know about before making a purchasing decision? I may decide to wait to buy if I know they are planning on releasing an improved model soon.

    These are questions to support my feeling that corporate blogs are a good thing in some businesses.

    Why don’t corporations hire end users for blogging? People who like to blog and have a flair for conversation, people like that?

    The only other comment I have is that people who love their job don’t mind reading up and being informed for work. It only makes you a better employee. ( sorry to kriskovacs 🙂 )

  5. Anon,
    Great point. I think that we’ll see a complete reengineering of the role corporate blogging means inn the next year. After the PR social media consultants are done blowing sunshine around companies will realize that blogging and social media directly speak to brand activation and ‘conversion’ in a new way.

    These new models will emerge and the smart companies will be listening and deploying ‘value oriented’ solutions and content. Very much like how the web page evolved in the web 1.0 paradigm.

    It’s much different in an always connected web 2.0 world but I think that solutions will emerge and user participation will be at the heart of it.

    From an entrepreneurial perspective expect ‘data mining’ and navigation recommendations to be a big enabler.

  6. anon – let me be clear. I love Blogs! I love blogs about technology and how people are using it, politics, and my beloved Yankees! To the author’s point all very SOCIAL uses for blogs.

    From a B2B perspective which is what the referenced article discussed, I would be VERY hesitent to base a business decision on a blog. And I would never look at a blog and see “what new plans” they have. I’m going to pick up the phone and call my sales rep. I’m going to visit their offices and see it. If you are using the reading of a blog as a substitute for good old fashioned research and are using their content to make B2B decisions you are doomed.

  7. Dear kriskovacs,
    I agree with you about a company basing a decision solely on blogs. That would indeed be ridiculous and poor business sense. It would be similar to making a decision about a school based on a student’s social blog/website– very poor decision making and research too!

    ‘New plans’ was a thought that occurred to me while writing my comment. I like blogs too, so many opinions, so many thoughts.

    I am a consumer, a mom, a person. Someone who has spent time on the telephone with company reps who could care less about my difficulty or question. So I suppose I am customer oriented. I have been out of the work force for 21 years, raising my kids and so unfortunately for me I don’t even know what B2B is …Sorry.

    Just to make the record clear.. I was not trying to be insulting to you in any way or make others feel as if your thoughts were unprofessional.. or whatever the word you would like to place there.
    I am trying to make sure that you know I was not being critical, and even in this reply , not angry. Just learning how to express myself when reading blogs.

    Hope you have a nice evening.

  8. I would submit that B2B blogging can work. Here’s the issue in my mind. Bloggers often cannot be authorities in most areas but have to be in at least a few to be successful.

    Why blogging matters. Bloggers are natural search ‘robots’ – subject matter experts who index their territory and filter stuff out … It’s going down this road of human collective intelligence. The most successful bloggers are human vertical knowledge machines. – they have to be.

    I talked about Bloggers being the New Navigators at my keynote at MIT – Brave and Free Web – that was feb 2007. Now one year later I will boldly say that bloggers are the future search engines.

    What is important about bloggers is their relationship to ‘group social graphs’. Bloggers naturally navigate the social graph of their affinity group .. the big names bloggers are certainly known but their success comes from peering with the other little or less known bloggers.

    Bloggers can often redirect users to conversations or point to analysis for users…key point above is that the collaborative research process now included blogs both subjectively and from a search infrastructure perspective.

    Bloggers most cases don’t make or break a buying decision but instead might engage a participatory audience to weigh in collectively. This is great added value to research to a eager potential buyer.

    Great conversation here…very relevant.

  9. I would add the following as well…

    There is another dynamic from this type of collaboration – a filter. Blogger interaction and collaboration creates a filter for users to follow – that’s where this notion of a social graph comes in. It’s pretty powerful.

    Blogging is collaborative and it benefits both bloggers and users.. Bloggers are navigators for users through their interactions, coverage, comments, knowhow about what’s going on in their areas of expertise. Bloggers are the new navigators and the new vertical search engine or the new recommendation engine.

  10. Hi John

    I would have to disagree with your comment that social media is for marketing and not PR.

    These are my opinions and I am sure you will disagree but from my stance the biggest corporate failing is when you try to introduce marketing into the social spectrum and lose the respect of those you are having a conversation with because you are ultimately trying to sell them something.

    There are of course different forms of social media, some of which are more suited to marketing but if you take blogging for example, this social medium is all about creating a conversation with your audience on a frank and open level.

    That is the reason why neither marketing nor PR departments should be blogging on a company’s behalf. If an organisation is serious about blogging as a social medium then its key people need to be engaging on a one to one level.

    Its PR people can blog about communication and its marketing people can blog and create discussions with their peers.

    Where PR can add value is in advising senior management on whether it should be engaged in social media and whether this is an effective way of reaching its stakeholders.

    As you noted John, most senior management don’t get blogging or social media, but a good number of marketers and PR people do(and yes I have met a few that have no clue as well). There role here as communicators is to guide management in the right direction – not do it on their behalf.


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