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The corporate view: is blogging really a tool?

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The explosion of blogging is an indicator of growing official interest in social media by major corporations. Consider the annual survey of Fortune 500 companies by the Center for Marketing Research at The University of Massachusetts which shows that 49% of them use social networking, up from 27% in 2007; 45% use online video, up from 24% in 2007; 39% use blogging, up from 19% in 2007; and 23% do not use any social media tools, down from 43% in 2007.

The 2008 update of the annual Gartner report called the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies states that corporate blogging has zoomed past what they call the initial peak of inflated expectations and subsequent trough of disillusionment, and is now on its slope of enlightenment toward mainstream corporate adoption in the next 2 to 5 years. We take this to mean that corporate blogging is about to go serious.

The full UMass study and a summary can be accessed at
http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch/blogstudy5.cfm

How do we react to all these studies? It is one thing to have your own Facebook or LinkedIn page; it is another to present yourself as a corporate face in the wild of the blogosphere and social media networking sites. Do these stats resonate with your experience?

Consistency of messaging across multiple media platforms and communications applications, and recognition that the news media now trolls blogs and social media postings for leads looking for information, inconsistencies and mistakes requires a higher level of communications awareness across the enterprise than before.

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3 Comments

Zack

You are right. Simply put: the corporate world is becoming more social. It makes perfect sense for companies to not just play in the blogosphere arena, but to compete and market products and services as well. And given the social element, I think blogs give companies a chance to show some personality; which is often not seen or appropriate in your “traditional” forms of corporate communication tools – – i.e. websites and corporate newsletters.

bomberpete

Corporations are finally realizing there’s a whole new hemisphere out there. They’ll do it and PR pros will lead the way. We’ll be very valued over the next couple of years as we take corporate marketing down the garden path. The key question is whether they can avoid the “traditional media” impulse to control the message, a la the sock puppetry of the Whole Foods CEO? That kind of counsel will be needed to cultivate carefully-developed brand images.
The real challenge may be in 3-5 years, when every corporation communicates through social media. Who will police the blogosphere?

Anonymous

Corporations are proceeding very carefully. There is a high interest in social media, and some companies are taking the risk of being innovators with the tools. Kudos to them. I have spent my career – 12 years and counting – in pharmaceutical communications, and unfortunately this is one industry that is slower than most to jump head-first into the social media space, largely because of the potentially liability. Small caveat: this does not include posting a video news release meant for broad distribution on youtube; this only makes sense. I am talking more about blogs and other tools with unvetted content. I remember a session that we did a couple of years ago with the executive communicators in each of my former company’s divisions, looking at blogs, second life, etc. It was an information session, but there was no advice on how to use these tools, and no encouragement even to use them. The message was ‘be aware of the tools, and observe’. Frankly, we are still observing. I think this is still the case in many corporations, in spite of their interest, especially as it concerns blogs with unvetted content. It is the loss of control over the message that scares most senior executives, and keeps senior communicators at a loss of how and/or where to weave these tools into their strategic plans. I think it will take a while before some of the laggard corporations embrace social media, even at the cost of being left out of the dialogue about their own businesses. Sad, really.

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