Corporate Blogs: Great Expectations vs Reality
Not too long ago, Forrester surveyed 189 companies about corporate blogging. Of those surveyed, over half said blogging was “marginal” or “irrelevant” to their marketing. In addition, the pace at which new corporate blogs are being launched seems to be slowing.
Yikes! Seems like it wasn’t that long ago that everybody and his dog was singing the praises of blogging as indispensable for business marketing. So what in the world is going on here?
Over at bloghound, Lois Kelly speculates that maybe businesses who got into blogging early on had unrealistic expectations, or set the wrong measurements and goals. As she points out, blogging is a conversation, not a “campaign tactic.”
And, of course, as mentioned in a post at Direct, one reason corporate blogs may not have lived up to those expectations is that too many of them “read like tired, warmed-over press releases,” according to the Forrester analysis.
Which is probably true. We’ve been through this kind of issue at my company, and it’s something I harp on all the time. There are some in the company who find it incredibly tempting to stick to stiff and stilted corporate-speak or that fake-enthusiastic “rah, rah, we’re the best so buy our product“ sales-pitch mode… neither of which work particularly well, especially over the long run. I think a little bit of that stuff goes a long way.
I’ve run into something similar in my personal life, too. Maybe you have, as well. You know, when you’re trying to have a conversation with somebody, and it’s clear they’re so busy formulating what brilliant thing they’ve going to say next, they have no brainpower left to pay attention to what you’re saying right now. The conversation quickly becomes limited to them pontificating on their favorite topic du jour and you listening — which may be fine if you’re on the pontificating end of things, but for the listener it becomes pretty tedious pretty fast.
So it’s something I’m aware of, and something I try to be on constant alert for to make sure I’m not guilty of the same thing. Not always successful, but at least I’m trying.
But, you know, I understand. It’s pretty scary for a corporation, or even a small one- or two-person show, to open up and get honest with their customers (and, worse, let their customers get honest with them). I mean, who knows what The Great Unwashed out there are going to say if you give them a platform to speak? And there are some real potential legal liabilities to letting other people outside your company post content (like blog comments) to your website.
It’s certainly easier and less frightening to stick to what the legal and corporate communications departments have vetted and steer clear of all this crazy “open conversations with your customers” stuff. Yep, I really do understand. (Of course, “understanding” doesn’t mean I think they’re right, just that I comprehend where their wrongness comes from.)
Hmm. Well, I’m not sure where I’m going with this one, except to say that I really admire those companies that have found a way to get beyond those fears, step outside the legal-department-sanctioned corporate-speak and have authentic conversations with their customers. And I think, maybe, if other companies can learn to loosen up their ties and relax a bit, they might find blogging — and the real connections they can forge with their customers through blogging and other social media/Web 2.0 outlets — aren’t necessarily so “irrelevant” to their business marketing after all.