Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Are Corporate Blogs a Fad?

Recently my SO said, "If I hear one more person talking about corporate blogs, I'm going to throw up."

I suspect there are a lot of people who share that opinion. In part that's a healthy suspicion of hearing something touted as the latest hot new marketing channel. Usually, these things are a bust. (Remember Pointcast?)

In part it's a reaction to the many really bad corporate blogs out there, which are just standard web content reformatted to look like a blog, but with the same tired institutional voice and heavy sales-pitch content. It might look like a blog, but it misses the point.

The UK-based CIO Jury at recently weighed in on the topic and concluded that no, they are not a fad - though not without some dissent.

With companies increasingly using blogging to communicate both internally to staff and externally to clients and customers, 10 of's 12-strong CIO Jury IT user panel said corporate blogs are more than just another technology fad that has found favour among senior managers.

Christopher Linfoot, IT director at LDV Vans, said: "Like all new technologies corporate blogs are often misapplied but there are valid applications, usually employee communication and not external. We do have a couple in use here in the former category."

But another member of the jury said:

Nic Evans, European IT director at Key Equipment Finance, said: "Personally I think corporate blogs are at best just a 'jeans day' version of more formal communications and at worst more benefit for the ego of the blogger than their potential audience."

The article also notes some of the difficulties of corporate blogging:

But corporate blogging also throws up issues of how censored or moderated the content is. Rob Wharton, CIO at Colt Telecoms, said: "Blogs are popular because they tend to represent personal opinions and personality rather than corporate messages. Therefore we need to take a great deal of care to ensure appropriate use so we don't devalue the blog concept, whilst avoiding mayhem in what essentially needs to be a controlled message."

Your challenge, of course, is taking care not to miss the boat on what could be a vital new communications tool, while not spending too much time on something that may not pan out. The truth, I suspect, is somewhere in the middle (as is so often the case): there are good uses for corporate blogs, but we're likely to see lots of misapplication of the concept while the right and wrong ways to use blogs gets sorted out.

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