"The node is not stronger than the network"
What I am hearing from these execs is that whatever benefits they imagined would come from blogging have been more than surpassed - and, in many cases, they just were not sure that any tangible benefit would come of it. As Five Across founder and CEO Glenn Reid told me:
I was unconvinced that it would be worthwhile, that no one would ever read it, so what would be the point?
That is all well and good, some might say, but what does that mean to the bottom line? Show us the metrics! comes the usual cry from the traditional business contingent.
Expanding your network and giving the business greater visibility and credibility isn't enough - we need to see numbers!
Glenn Reid reports that, apart from the increased traffic to the company website (which is certainly measurable), there has been another significant boon to the business as a result of the blog:
My blog delivers results comparable to our Google ad campaign in terms of delivering visitors to our site, an unexpected benefit!
Those are metrics that any cake decorator (as an IT Director friend of mine refers to marketing people) should sit up and take notice of. As Glenn put it to me:
My take-away is that you can't predict or control the network effect...
That may be scary to some people - Spend money without knowing exactly what the ROI is going to be? There's some risk there! To me, it's far from scary: It is perhaps the most exciting element of what is possible with emerging technologies like blogging and RSS. I have written here before about the unpredictably beneficial, pleasant results of this network effect, and I could write a hundred more posts about other such connections. As movie blogger Stephen Reid keeps saying:
The node is not stronger than the network.
Not every company needs a blog, but every company needs the support of a network. Some companies make the mistake of thinking that their node is strong enough to circumvent or even topple the network - just think back to AOL's 'walled garden' delusions only a few years ago. They thought that their content could supplant or compete with the entire internet.
The network that each respective company needs in order to succeed will vary. We have had conversations with enough people to know the usual objections - My company doesn't need to engage with angsty teenage bloggers! Our customers and industry peers are high-level executives in a very specialised area! - so I will utter something that should go without saying: Within the wider network, within the wider blogosphere, there is a more specific (though not wholly identifiable) network, a more niche curve in the blogosphere, where your company should probably be engaged. If the curve is currently unoccupied, be the seed that kicks it all off and watch the flora flourish.
Ignore the network at your peril. Engage it and reap the benefits.
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