Blogging for the boss
A few weeks ago there was a spate of blog posts about bloggers and their bosses that I have bookmarked and only now got round to posting here. This is an issue that we will encounter on our mission to get employees blogging and so I was keen to mention the debate here.
First is Scott Rosenberg, who agrees with Tim Bray, who is of the opinion that any corporation that doesn't do this in the future is going to be playing catch-up, and the other optimists that blogging can give enterprises a more human face. But...
I'm sorry to be the pessimist at the party. But for large numbers of workers in America, particularly those at big companies, the dominant fact of life remains don't piss off your boss.
David Weinberger weighs in, with a caveat that he has never been right with any of his predictions :-):
I do agree that it'll take a long time for corporate public blogging to spread beyond easy industries, such as high tech. But, I think it'll happen faster than Scott does. First, internal blogging will happen relatively quickly because it's a great way for employees to build their reputations, a motive as powerful as the urge not to piss off your boss. Those internal blogs will go onto the extranet and eventually some will make it onto the Internet.
Ross Mayfield points out that although blogging first happens in information intensive industries, it can happen anywhere a manager wants to gain competitive advantage and is willing not just to give up some control, but recongize its already lost. And he agrees that, internally, blogging can also begin in less disruptive activities, like projects or lines of research.
After such exhaustive record of the 'conversation' I guess it is my turn now to say something. Well, I agree that not all company can and should have a blog or encourage their employees to blog. (Which is not to say that if their employees blog in their own time, it's none of their business.) It is very important that blogs are not the proverbial hammer to the proverbial nails. We keep reminding ourselves and others of that with our 'slogan' - Not every company needs a blog. Yet. Yes, we believe that blogs will be relevant for every company whether as a format or as a medium.
I have a different perspective on the entire debate, without fundamentally disagreeing with any of the points above. Company blogs are possible, in fact desirable, as they give businesses a chance to achieve what all the marketing, advertising and branding so often fails to do - relationship with their customers and the resulting loyalty.
The trick is to find the right type of blog (a blog is a mere tool that can be use in many ways), the right attitude, the right people and the right tone. The team behind tBBC is a bunch of 'ordinary' bloggers (i.e. not from marketing or media industry) who have built a strong brand for their group blog. After some back slapping, we carefully analysed how on earth we managed that and spent some time working out how to pass on that knowledge to enlightened businesses and individuals.
This does not mean that it is easy to get all the things right for a credible and successful (company) blog, it does mean, though, that there are people who have the expertise to focus on a particular company and find the most effective way to design their blog and make it work. They also have the guts to say, no you do not actually need a blog...
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