Corporate Blogging Survey 2005

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July 8, 2005

John Dowland’s Take On Blogging

John Dowland from Macromedia was kind enough to take my blogging survey last year in 2004. This year I chatted with Mike Chambers and developed the Macromedia case study found in the blogging survey results.

John made a post about the blogging survey, and he wrote down his take on Macromedia’s and other companies’ progress in using blogs for building better products and companies.

“Things are pretty good, but are necessarily imperfect and evolving, and different groups of us pursue different paths when moving to better places…?

I believe John is right; each company will use blogs in a different way depending upon their circumstances and traditions. There is no one right path, of the six case studies I highlighted in the study, three stood out to me because of the number of blogs in use, they were IBM, Microsoft and Macromedia.

It occurs to me from conversations with corporate bloggers that blogging initiatives have been quite organic at companies, some strategy, but also real testing of new ideas. It did seem that Macromedia was most defined in their approach and strategy. But that does not mean that is the right approach for every company, more experimentation might produce some new ideas. Microsoft appears to be doing the most experimentation at the moment. I’d actually like to get a better understanding of the different developments at the company (more on that at a later date.) I am really curious about IBM and its progress with internal blogging, IBM seems to be furthest along with internal blogging, at 3,600 blogs I believe more than any other company. Though how anyone would ever get to read them all would be hard to imagine.

I am convinced that blogs are an important tool in opening conversations with your customers that can help companies to understand their customer’s needs and wants. This in essence is the marketing concept. As a marketing person I think that companies should consider blogs not just as a promotional tool but also as a tool to develop world-class products. To the strategy of developing better products, I encourage any company to carefully consider opening up their products to customer feedback and even criticism. As Microsoft and Macromedia’s examples have shown (John Dowland mentions one example of a lingering customer issue that has turned into a petition), there might be some problems, but the benefits outweigh the risks. The key is to know how to handle those risks. Here are some ideas on that subject.

· Monitor the web for customer criticism and feedback, don’t wait for customers to come to you.
· Respond quickly when feedback or constructive criticism is received, even if you don’t have an answer now, a response is needed to demonstrate you have listened to the customer.
· If you do make a commitment, follow through on the commitment to remedy an issue or implement a product change.
· If you cannot make a change to a product explain why you cannot make the change. Customers will appreciate your honesty and fair dealing.
· Suggest alternatives, if you are stating you cannot make a change, for instance a change might require an increase in price. Customer might actually respond and say they are willing to pay more for the change.

Really product development is a negotiation between vendors and their customers, especially when it comes to software product development. Vendors have to manage satisfying the largest number of customers, limited resources, deadlines and profitability. Using blogs to negotiate that process can help to build a better product, that’s more profitable for the vendor.

Posted by johncass at July 8, 2005 1:53 AM

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