Corporate Blogging Survey 2005
 
BACKBONE CORPORATE BLOGGING SURVEY 2005
 
 

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December 30, 2005

Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki Launched

Chris Anderson announced the launch of the Fortune 500 business blogging wiki, a list of the Fortune 500 companies that are blogging, along with a review of their stock price, the wiki is provided by Ross Mayfield (Socialtext). Chris Anderson and Doc Searls had sat down to dinner not so long ago and wondered why more Fortune 500 companies were not blogging. Doc hypothesized that those companies who are doing well would have more to lose from blogging than those that are not. Hence the development of a survey to determine if Doc's idea is true, for the moment it turns out that it may be, read Chris Andreson's post about the conversation and wiki.

According to the survey only 4% of the fortune 500 are blogging, the majority of the companies blogging are technology related, which makes sense as the many of their customers are reading and using blogs.

One of my goals in conducting the Corporate Blogging Survey was to determine who was blogging, by that I mean what is the occupation of the people who blog in companies? From conducting interviews with companies like Macromedia, and Microsoft in 2004 I had discovered that product development was an important part of corporate blogging. I am now wondering if I could test my hypothesis that a company's product builders rather than product promoters are the people who should be blogging? Maybe I'd be able to add some sections to the wiki and ask companies to list the number of employees who are blogging by their role in company?

Posted by johncass at 12:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is Ageism A Good Idea In The Online Marketing Industry?

Is there value in experience in the online marketing industry? Pondering the most popular post of 2005 on TechRepublic today, “Ageism? Good Idea?? I wondered if experience is important in the online marketing profession?

Should employers and professionals seek out the young for their ability to be in touch with the latest trends and understanding of how today’s marketing tactics work?

Do you think that knowing the latest web 2.0 marketing tactic is more important than understanding the importance of affiliate marketing? Is online marketing only for the young?

Posted by johncass at 8:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 29, 2005

Alaska Airlines Flight Decompression PR Issue

Jeremy Hermanns and his fiancée survived a horrendous experience after the Alaska Airlines flight they were traveling on, decompressed. Jeremy blogged about the incident and included pictures from the flight. The Alaska Airlines incident was a terrifying incident for all of the passengers and air flight staff involved, I am glad everyone survived the event safely. Jeremy's post has received several hundred comments, including some critical comments about the entry. Jeremy discovered that a number of the critical comments come from people where their IP address comes from Alaska Airlines.

Jeremy Pepper analyses the PR issues arising from the commentary on Jeremy Hermanns’s blog from several supposed Alaska Airlines employees. If it is the case that Alaska Airlines employees made these comments then the company it will not do the company’s reputation any good.

It’s important for any company to have a clear communication crisis in place and also to have a consistent message. As an employee when you say something in public about your company you are representing the company’s position, but do you know what your company’s position really is, and how it should be presented?

This example of a blogger describing his experiences on an Alaska Airlines plane on his blog, and perhaps having the post commented on by Alaska Airlines employees demonstrates that companies might have communications policies in place, but that in the world of consumer generated media, its important to educate your employees on how to react to developing news. Jeremy Pepper was right in suggesting that companies set clear policies for their employees on how to act in public on crisis communications incidents.

Further, while it may avoid some damage, and frankly hurtful comments, merely setting a policy is not enough. A company has to seriously think about educating its workforce about their policy on communicating in today’s new world of consumer generated media. Seminars and videos will work better than books and dusty employee handbooks.

Posted by johncass at 7:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Reviewing the Nokia N90 Blog V

Nokia is running a blogger relations campaign for the cell phone N90, as part of the campaign, Nokia is sending 50 N90 cell phones to bloggers to review the product. The reason for the outreach program to bloggers is that Nokia would rather bloggers actually use and experience the cell phone rather than pass on someone else’s review of the telephone. Nokia also provides a free return address shipping pack to the bloggers for when they have finished reviewing the product.

Andy Abramson, Nokia’s blogging consultant is managing the campaign for Nokia, interestingly Andy has a very strong technology background and runs a well-known VoIP blog. Typically I’d recommend a client has an employee manage and write on their blog, but as Andy runs a blog and specifically a technology blog, I think Andy’s background adds a lot of credibility to the campaign.

Andy Abramson is doing a great job of outreach and response to the Nokia blogger relations program. Every time a blogger reviews the N90 product Andy thanks the blogger for the mention in a reader comment post on the blogger’s blog, answers any questions they might have, and typically links back to them on the N90 blog, whether the feedback is negative or positive.

The N90 blog has received some criticism, mainly from bloggers who perceive the blog to be clueless and merely a site for promoting the Nokia press releases. I describe some of the criticism from B.L. Ochman in my post, "Nokia Blogger relations campaign IV", and Noblizer in my post, "Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign I".

I personally disagree with the critics on their characterization of the blog being clueless. Though I do see their point about the blog’s content strategy. When you search through each archived month of the blog, starting in April of 2005, the posts were basically a series of press releases and corporate communications articles until November of 2005. However, I understand from a comment from Andy Abramson that the blog only went live to the public in November of 2005. Once the blogger relations program launched and took off, the blog took on an entirely different character. Since November I think I can say that Andy Abramson has successfully combated any criticism by responding in comments on the blogger’s blog, and also linking back to posts from the N90 blog. Andy is completely transparent, whether its good or bad perspectives, he listens to them, considers and responds on the N90 blog, with links even to his fiercest critics.

While the blog has definitely been successful with the initial wave of product reviews, it is interesting to consider how at first the blog languished without many good posts or conversations on the web. That maybe because of the launch in November, though the archive goes back to April of 2005. One other weakness is that there are few links to non N90 related posts, so frankly the blog’s content is more of a catalog of the blogger relations program rather than a blog that has a content strategy targeting a particular audience that will start and continue a dialogue to the audience over time.

This is actually how this blog Blogsurvey started, Backbone Media was conducting the Backbone Media Corporate Blogging Survey and it made sense to run a blog to handle the queries and questions about the survey. Once the survey was finished we developed content around the subjects of corporate blogging, SEO and blogger relations. From that experience I can tell you that when you are in the middle of a launch you don’t have much time to write much content beyond the updates on how the program is running. I think the blog is most interesting to industry watchers who are attempting to understand how to run a successful blog campaign; I don’t think the blog provides as much value to an audience who wishes to purchase the telephone, though the list of blog posts to reviews, good or bad will probably help a buyer get a good overview of the product.

A suggestion to Andy and Nokia for the future would be to develop the blog more along the lines of the Stonyfield farms blog. Stonyfield sells yogurt, not a particularly inspiring topic of conversation, as Yogurt is a fermented milk product in which a mixed culture of Lactobacillus bulgaricus (or occasionally L. acidophilus) and Streptococcus thermophilus produce lactic acid during fermentation of lactose. Probably the one audience who would be interested in yogurt is diary farmers, but that’s not Stonyfield’s audience, so instead of targeting farmers for their blogging strategy. Stonyfield has four blogs targeting the parents of babies and children, women and organic farming, the Stonyfield bloggers write about topics that would be of interest to people who are interested in those topics, and by association when audience members who are interested in those topics go to a store to buy yogurt, if they have recently read an article on a Stonyfield blog, they associate the Stonyfield yogurt with things they are interested in thereby the customer already has a relations and some trust with the Stonyfield brand, an important association when you are selling a fermented milk product.

With the Stonyfield example in mind I’d recommend Nokia build blogs that target the lifestyles of those people who are using the telephones; technology fanatics, travelers, (fermented milk product lovers, kidding) who ever Nokia thinks is a good target for their products. Talk about the product, but also talk about the lifestyle of the audience. Oh, lastly by running these types of Nokia blogs, the corporate bloggers can chat about the N90 and all the other cell phones manufactured by Nokia in the future.

Posted by johncass at 10:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 28, 2005

Edelman Blog: A Case Of Un-Intentional Synthetic Transparency?

Shel Israel wrote a blog post, “Edelman--The Missing Linker?, about Richard Edelman's (Richard Edelman runs one of the world’s largest PR agencies) lack of linking to other websites, specifically Suw Charman's blog, it occurred to me last night that Richard Edelman's lack of linking is a case of synthetic transparency.

Synthetic transparency was a phrase coined by Dr. Walter Carl, a professor of Advanced Organizational Communication at Northeastern University. Dr. Carl defines the term to mean, “Synthetic transparency involves using blogs to give the impression of openness, honesty, and transparency but without really doing so.? In my article, "Using ‘Synthetic Transparency’ To Set Expectations On The Level Of Transparency Found On Your Corporate Blog," which was also reprinted on the new communications blogzine, I describe how General Motors has a policy of not answering every comment, however when I had questioned a few General Motors customers who commented on the blog about their expectations for receiving a reply, the customers assumed that General Motors would reply to their comments. The customers had not seen the blog guidelines. I suggested that the example of the GM Fastlane Blog is a case of un-intentional synthetic transparency. General Motors had decided to reduce its level of interaction with customers due to the volume of comments, which are in the thousands for the GM Fastlane blog. And while I think its perfectly acceptable for a corporate blog to do what ever they want to do with their website. If a company wishes to build trust through openness, the whole point of a blog, its important to set expectations with your audience.

I'd also suggest its important for a corporation to be aware of the norms of their online community, does the community allow comments, trackbacks and other levels of interaction? Is it typically expected that bloggers in a community will link to other bloggers? A company is perfectly within their rights to not to work within the norms of a community. But in response the community may turn their back on the non-participatory blogger.

After being involved in the PR blogging community for about two years, on PR Communications and now Blogsurvey, I think I can safely say that it is expected within the community that PR bloggers link to other bloggers. It was interesting to me that Shel noticed the lack of linking to other blogs on the 6 A.M. blog because I'd noticed previously that Richard Edelman's blog does not allow trackbacks. I'd been inspired to write an article about Healthcare blogging because one of Edelman's staffers had discussed the issue at the Business Blog Summit earlier this summer, and when I tried to trackback the post to the article on Richard Edelman's blog I could not. Richard Edelman's blog does allow comments but according to Trevor Cook of the Corporate Engagement blog, Richard Edelman's blog has a track record of not linking to other blogs. Trevor Cook linked to a PubSub recording of Richard Edelman's outlinks.

On closer examination, I actually read through Richard Edelman's posts back to August 2005, I think I can see why he has so few links to other websites. The context of his posts don't lead themselves to linking i.e. there was nothing to link too. In one post where it was appropriate to link, I did notice that Richard Edelman linked to Jeremy Zawodny in Richard's post, "The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends," the article discussed Jeremy's suggestion that all PR professional emails should be banned. From a search engine optimization agency perspective, if ever there was a post Backbone Media would recommend Richard Edelman not link too, it would be that post but he did, that seems pretty transparent to me.

However I did notice that Richard Edelman did not link to Technorati.com in a post about Peter Hirshberg, "PR--The Powerful Receiver?" Now by any stretch of the imagination I don't think Technorati.com can be considered a competitor to Edelman. I think that was just an oversight. Part of the reason blogging consultants recommend linking to other websites in articles, is that its a matter of convenience to the reader, your reader does not have to search for the link.

To me 6 A.M.'s lack of linking in the case of Suw Charman may be just an oversight. But a bigger issue for me is my inability to send a trackback to Richard Edelman's blog. It just does not seem the 'done thing,' in the PR blogging community. Partly because it means I have to both write a blog post and comment or send an email to Richard Edelman if I want to let him know that I just wrote a post that references one of this posts. Blogging is all about design to me, and it just makes good web design sense to include moderated comments and trackbacks on a blog. By not allowing trackbacks the 6 A.M. is being very transparent that the site does not want to receive notifications or links from other websites. That's okay, but it also means I am less likely to link to Richard Edelman's blog, even if I cite a blog or blog post in my own posts. This is why I did not link to the Edelman blog in this post about, "Blogging For Highly Regulated Industries."

In review, I am not sure Shel was being entirely fair to Richard Edelman on the linking issue, I think Richard's content strategy and writing style has got more to do with the lack of links, and the link issue with Suw Charman was probably an oversight, I cite the example of the Jeremy Zawodny post. Further, if someone is going to review a blogger's outlinks for the ratio of inlinks to outlinks, then they need to read the blogger's posts to double check that linking was appropriate within the context of the posts.

Is this topic really worth discussing? After all folks, it’s only one link! Well I think it is as it provides a good opportunity to consider the use of the term synthetic transparency, I believe this new term is helpful in giving bloggers a yardstick to measure their blogging efforts, the GM Fastlane blog is a good example of where with a few simple extra steps the blog can be more transparent. I hope each corporate blogger uses the term to determine their level of transparency, intentional and un-intentional. Though my research on corporate blogs its apparent that each organization moves at its own pace, its okay for others to encourage a faster pace, but those critics should realize that its still the blogger's website and they can do what ever they want to do with it. However, if your blog's level of interaction is slower than other blogs in your blogging community a corporate blogger should not be surprised when they don't receive the benefits of being more actively involved in the community by adhering with the community's norms.

Oh, lastly, in the case of Richard Edelman's blog I don't think his blog is synthetically transparent.

Update: Richard Edelman posted a comment on both Shel Israel's and Trevor Cook's blogs that he should link more will do so in 2006. Thanks Trevor Cook.


Posted by johncass at 1:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 27, 2005

Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign IV

B.L. Ochman on the ‘What’s Next Blog’, takes a critical look at the Nokia Blogger relations campaign. One of her chief criticisms is that the Nokia blog is merely a bunch of press release posts, and there is a lack of discussion on the blog. B.L. are we reading the same blog, Nokia is actively linking to other blogger posts, both negative and positive. Andy Abramson, the Nokia PR guy or maybe blogger relations expert, did a pretty good job of going down her list of criticisms of the campaign and answering them. He even thanks her for one or two ideas.

As I write in my earlier post, "Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign II," a blogger who receives the phone does not have to write about the phone, they can just ignore the phone. It seems to me that Nokia has been very clueful in responding to blogger criticisms and in getting extra mileage out of their efforts. I would agree that Nokia is running the campaign very much within their rules and goals. The idea of the blog is to promote the telephone by getting feedback from the online community. With limited resources Nokia has targeted a select group of bloggers, typically bloggers who generate income for their blogging efforts. There is no great general discussion about lifestyles, but as the blog only recently launched the blogger relations team is still in the process of responding to the blogosphere's reaction to the blog campaign. I suspect that we will see less coverage on the blog about blogger reviews over time and more discussion about the product and consumer opinions, why because that's were the discussion will probably take the online audience when the hype has died down over the initial launch.

I'd suggest that product development might be one element to throw in the mix for the future on the Nokia blog. As the Backbone Media Corporate blogging survey demonstrated earlier this summer, focusing on your audience’s ideas and thoughts can help you to both develop a better product and mean that your company's blog will receive a lot of additional attention from amongst your customer base. Nokia is already doing some of this with their blog; it would be great to read some interviews with the Nokia cell phone product builders on the blog. And if you can point to examples of where you changed a product based on consumer feedback, I think that will go a long way to demonstrating Nokia's understanding that blogging is not only about promoting but also listening to their audience.

Posted by johncass at 3:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign III

Mike Slocombe of the Digital-Lifestyles.info writes in his blog post, "Nokia Targets Bloggers For N90 Handset Launch," Mike gives a good overview of the Nokia Blogger Relations campaign, but also thinks that such ‘blogger relations’ campaigns are an attempt by companies to influence what is said about their products. I quote Mike, "Try as we might, us cynical folks at Digital Lifestyles couldn't shake off a nagging suspicion that the marketing world's new-found enthusiasm for blogs is more about trying to control and coerce what's been written about their products in the blogosphere.

With the explosive growth in blogging - and the increased prominence of blog entries in search engine results - companies are keen to try and manage what's been said about their products, and we see that Blogger Relations Blog could be the start of a slippery slope, with influential blogs being targeted by marketing campaigns.

Companies who follow this type of idea had better take care as they're walking on a tightrope. Bloggers are a canny bunch, and if they feel like they're getting played - they're going to make a whole lot of noise, jumping up and down, screaming about it. Not a pretty sight and definitely not what your brand needs. "

If Mike is right, we each have to ask ourselves if it is okay for a company to set up a blog to actively influence the online discussion about a company's products.

I've reviewed a number of blog posts about the Nokia blogger relations campaign, and from them I'd say that Nokia fully understands that if they attempted control the online discussion about the company, bloggers would not respond well to such a campaign, and rather than receive a positive response from bloggers, Nokia would receive much criticism.

I think Mike is correct in cautioning companies to walk carefully when running a blogger relations campaign, but I wonder just how different is the Nokia campaign to a product review campaign to traditional journalists? Companies often provide products for free to review to journalists with the option to return the phones by shipping companies. It seems to me that Nokia is attempting to influence bloggers by sending them free products to review, but I'd suggest that Nokia is also respecting the blogger's right to freely describe the products, positively or negatively. Nokia takes a risk, one that can easily backfire if the product does not match up to standards.

That was one reason why I was curious if all of the bloggers on the list of bloggers who would receive the phone for free actually had much of a track record in reviewing cell phones. I thought that those that have little experience would be more likely to give a positive review, and those that do review a lot of products will give a balanced assessment of the phone as they have more experience in comparing cell phones. Those who blog about the phone and who don't usually discuss telephones at all may not add all that much to the conversation and search engine rankings of Nokia, as they don't have a lot of content devoted to cell phones, while those who do regularly write about cell phones will have more credibility to lose if they give a biased review of the phone because they received the product for free. I blogged about this issue in my post, "Nokia blogger Relations Campaign II."

Mike, you caution Nokia and other companies, I think you are right to do that, but I also suggest that you caution bloggers, especially those who don't typically cover a product to consider their position with their audience. Credibility is a hard won position in the blogosphere; I don't think many bloggers wish to lose their credibility over the sake of a single product.

I believe it is okay for a company to set up a blog in order to enter into the online discussion about their industry and even products, to me its imperative that companies do so, if they wish to remain relevant to their customers and audience in the new world of web 2.0. There's a difference between setting up a blog for promotional purposes solely; and setting up a blog to actively enter into a dialogue. In these early days of corporate blogging, Nokia is one of only a few examples of a blogger promotional campaign, and so their campaign has a big impact in the online discussion about corporate blogging. I suspect that in a few years such programs will have less effect on generalist bloggers compared to gadget bloggers.

The reality is that unless your company is actively engaged in a dialogue, bloggers will either ignore you or worse pillar a company's corporate blogging efforts, therefore if a company wishes to run truly successful blogger relations campaigns the company will have to develop a dialogue with consumers in the online conversation.

Posted by johncass at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign II

Matt Miller of the PalmSolo blog gives an overview of the Nokia blogger relations campaign, in his post, "Thoughts on the Nokia Blogger Relations Communications program." There was some discussion about the issue of getting the telephones for free, if a blogger receives a telephone for free and blogs about the telephone, its important for the blogger to mention that fact. However, the fact that Nokia sent the phones along with a FedEx label indicates that they understood the importance of respecting bloggers integrity. Matt Miller states,

"In every document I was given we were not told the devices were ours to keep for good and actually I have a return FedEx label right in the package they sent me. As a result, I am personally treating it like I do with other review units I get sent where I get to check out devices for 30 days and then return them."

On the Mobile-Blog, Oliver-Starr discusses the Nokia blogger relations campaign and makes the point early on that,

"When sending something like these phones to hard core geeks, you'd better be awfully confident that your product is exceptional. We don't have Nokia advertising plastered all over our blogs, and while these phones are awfully nice, not a one of us would sully our reputation by giving an undeserved glowing review; if there are things about these devices that we don't dig, you can count on reading about it."

Oliver's discussion raises an interesting issue for me; it appears that Nokia sent the telephone to several types of bloggers, gadget fanatics like Starr and well-known bloggers. For those bloggers who regularly blog about gadgets, this may be a bit of ho hum campaign, they already get gadgets from manufacturers. We can probably expect a fair and credible review from them, as the gadget expert bloggers will have a lot of experience in reviewing such products. It’s also in a gadget blogger's interest to give as fair a review as possible, as their audience reads their blog for the product reviews. For those bloggers who don't typically review gadgets, they will probably give more of a review of the campaign than the telephone, and be seen less of a credible source of information on the product review.

I think Stowe Boyd gave a terrific review of the Nokia campaign on the Corante blog, and in addition hosts an online discussion between Clogger and Andy Abramson, Nokia's blogging consultant for the campaign. I blogged about the Clogger post in my earlier post, "Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign I."

Stowe writes that Clogger assumed that every blogger who receives a phone would give a biased positive review of the telephone. Stowe stated, "The implication is that we are being subtly influenced by Nokia, and will naturally -- without even knowing, perhaps -- write more glowing praise for the N90 than we would otherwise. I doubt it. If the phone sucked, I would say so, and I'd happily send it back when the marketeers decided that I was bad juju. But the phone is cool, and I am happy to say so." While Stowe gives some thoughtful interpretation of the campaign that expanded my understanding of the Nokia campaign, his positive review is not likely to influence me in the same way that PalmSolo’s or Mobile-Blog's reviews are going to convince me of the relative merits of the Nokia telephone. Why, well, Stowe is not a gadget blogger, he might be a gadget fanatic in his spare time, but his blog does not give me the impression that he is necessarily an expert on the subject of cell phones. And that’s the point credibility comes from gaining trust over time.

I think the criticism of Nokia on the part of Clogger is helpful but also wrong. Nokia is being completely open about what they are trying to do, get the word out about their product. Just because Nokia sent you a telephone does not mean that a blogger has to write about the telephone. And I suspect that if manufacturers attempt to seed non-gadget bloggers regularly in the future, the luster of receiving a new camera will soon rub off, it will be old news. Bloggers will probably not have time to write about the product and focus on what they really care about, the topic of their blog or current conversation.

Rather criticism should really be directed at bloggers who give a positive review of the product without revealing the origin of the review, its one thing for a blogger to give a positive review of product when a blogger purchased the product themselves and its another to read a review when I as the reader know the blogger just received a phone for free. I don't doubt the sincerity of the blogger, but I do gage the credibility of the writer in assessing cell phones. Sorry Stowe that counts you out on this, and me as well! I am not a very credible authority on cell phone technology.

In addition, we should criticize the reader who fails to consider what they read, and instead advise them to search for expert product comparisons from several sources. The growth of consumer generated media, and corporate blogs is increasing the volume of discussion, that those voices are not all journalists is okay to me, in some ways the world is a little more dangerous because of it, I have to be more careful when reading any source of information today, just as I should have been careful before 1995 and the web. But surely having to think about the credibility of a source of information is a good thing for the reader?

I think Paul Jardine of the Produktivity blog said it best in his comment on Stowe Boyd's post,

"His [Cloggers] is the cry of an industry about to be disintermediated (look at the quality of reporting in newspapers and TV today and I don't think the majority would claim it to be any better than the popular blogs) by advertisers. There will always be a place for people who can write, but the model has changed and you don't need a newspaper, or similar, in order to inform and comment on the issues (or products) of the day."

Posted by johncass at 12:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign I

I’ve been researching the Nokia blogger relations campaign and was going to write a long review of their efforts and bloggers. But several of my thoughts on blog posts about the campaign have turned into longer posts. Here’ my take on the Noblizer’s post about the Nokia campaign.

Noblizer writes about the new Nokia blogger relations campaign, in the article, "Nokia phone is off the hook," and critiques the campaign suggesting that the material on the Nokia blog is re-purposed marketing communications information, and that the process of giving free phone creates biased reviews.

Noblizer states, "As It's up to the press to act as a filter and ensure impartiality at all costs, I just hope 'blogger relations' remains a way to purely feed the traditional media with off-diary stories. Because if the public start reading the badly skewed reviews of the phones by wide-eyed bloggers still amazed at their good fortune, we are all doomed."

Noblizer, if the public were not able to distinguish between a credible source of information and another, we would be all doomed, however that's not the case, when someone is unfamiliar with a source of information I'd suggest they will be more skeptical of the information. I would also suggest that the public are fairly savvy, after all aren't the public or bloggers, the people who continued to dig into stories traditional media either does not have time or does not want to research. What about the Trent Lot story, or the case of Jayson Blair at The New York Times?

It occurs to me that traditional media was caught knapping on many aspects of those two stories, so when you say, "its up to the press to act as a filter and ensure impartiality at all costs," I don't think anyone can presume that journalists and editors in traditional media are any more immune from errors and downright lies than a blogger. Really I think you should be arguing for the spirit of responsibility and the search for truth amongst both bloggers and journalists. While I agree with your skepticism about bloggers and even corporate bloggers. Your general tone and posts give me the impression that the reader should always doubt bloggers come what may, and that traditional media are the only people we should trust in reporting the news. I think the reader should doubt both blogger and journalist and not assume that just because someone has an editor they are any more a reliable source of information than a blogger without an editor.

I think Noblizer's concern that bloggers will make biased positive posts about the Nokia telephone in return for a free telephone is a good argument to make. Though as several bloggers commented on the post on the cloggerblog, the people commenting questioned if there is a difference between the Nokia blogger relations campaign and a typical media relations campaign to journalists in the traditional media, where journalists are also sent free telephones. Be you a blogger or journalist its important to mention the source of your information. Many bloggers did just that in citing the Nokia campaign and giving a review of the telephone.

Andy Abramson from Nokia comments on the post, and suggests his company is different from other agencies, that Nokia is attempting to build a blogger relations campaign that works within the industry's best practices. Nobleizer is slightly placated on first appearance, but does not back down from their central premise, that bloggers are not the traditional media, and therefore are not to be trusted in the same way that professional journalists are to be trusted.

I'd suggest that just because a blogger writes about a product or story does not mean that they carry as much credibility as a traditional media journalist, and just because a professional journalist works for a highly respected media outlet does not mean that the journalistic approach and editorial system cannot break down and produce rubbish. I don't think the new blogging revolution is really about credibility be they bloggers or journalists, I think we've seen enough good examples from bloggers and bad examples from journalists to understand that credibility is to be earned not assumed depending upon the source of information. The new media revolution is really about hearing more voices, and allowing more interaction, I think for some in the traditional media establishment who are used to being the sole source of information and leading voice this means big changes, and change can be very frightening to established players. But personally I think having more voices and discussion will help to keep the conversation, public or industry, journalist or blogger, more honest, not less.

Posted by johncass at 10:41 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Vigilance For Transparency

Regina Miller on her blog, HR's Brand New Experience, states that she is “reminded? that she stay true to her original intentions in producing her blog, and that bloggers should be vigilant for their blog’s level of synthetic transparency, after reading my article on the New Communication Blogozine about synthetic transparency.

Regina Miller also covers a current issue of transparency on another blog in her posting.

Posted by johncass at 12:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 24, 2005

Holidays 2005

All the best for the holidays, Backbone Media was closed on Friday, and will reopen on Tuesday for the 2005 holiday season. We had an exciting new media communications year and hope to build on the corporate blogging efforts we started in 2005. Thanks to all those people who helped to make this blog a success.

Posted by johncass at 9:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 22, 2005

Healthcare Blogging Interview with Shahid Shah

Shahid Shah runs a healthcare related blog, healthcareguy.com, and blog aggregator, hitsphere.com. Shahid graciously agreed to an e-mail interview about the healthcare blog marketing industry.

John: Your hitsphere.com website appears to be a blog aggregator, is that correct?

Shahid: I run two different sites:

* http://www.healthcareguy.com is a personal blog where I discuss health IT issues

* http://www.hitsphere.com is a blog aggregator on the front page but there is a "community" section at http://www.hitsphere.com/community where people in healthcare IT can start their own blogs, post to forums, post jobs, ask for opinions (via polls), and view aggregated news feeds.

John: What's the process of being nominated for the hitsphere.com website? Does everyone that's in the aggregator know that they are on the website?

Shahid: The process of being nominated on hitsphere.com is pretty simple: people just send me an email about a blog that deals with health IT specific issues. There is no formal review process other than me and a couple of other guys vetting the site to make sure it will valuable to a health IT community of readers

John: What's your estimate of the size of the healthcare blogging community?

Shahid: The general healthcare bloggers out there will number about 200 as I write this (at least those that post regularly). When you come down to health IT (technology) it comes down to under 30. The ones with regular content (daily) in health IT are probably less than 20. There is a conspicuous absence of almost all health IT commercial software providers:

IBM and Microsoft have health blogs (they joined the HITSphere) but none of the healthcare and medical vendors have their own blogs yet. I think they'll be joining soon, though.

John: In terms of the number of blogs, have you seen any examples of pharmaceutical or biotechnology company blogs yet?

Shahid: There is generally little knowledge of blogging in the healthcare community at large. While many in the technical world of healthcare know what they are they still don't see their value. I think most of the concerns about healthcare companies blogging are not well founded; they are the normal fear that all legal departments have about any extra-corporate communications not vetted by the marketing department. Companies should start the blogging process immediately (and sign up with independent blogger sites like HITSphere to gain credibility) and go ahead and moderate all comments. People who leave blog comments don't mind having their comments moderated. The main advice I have for companies is "Just Do It" or your competitors will.

It's another marketing vehicle. And more importantly, unlike most other marketing vehicles like magazines and websites a blog is two way conversation with the most important thing in your company: your customer.

John: What about the FDA? With the issue of patients writing comments on a blog with comments, reporting issues.

Shahid: I wouldn't worry too much about what the FDA has to say specifically for blogs. Blogging does not impact anything that wouldn't already be public anyway. Just as companies need to watch what they say from an SEC perspective (forward-looking statements, etc) they should do the same due diligence for the FDA. If a hospital creates a blog to help its customers understand what it does and how better to communicate with it, the FDA's not going to say anything. If a drug vendor starts a blog or discussion forum about its products and doesn't mis-communicate about efficacy of its products or fitness for a particular purpose it won't get into trouble. If a medical device vendor creates a blog about creative and legal uses of its products and doesn't promise anything that wouldn't get them into legal trouble by any other means, blogging won't be any different. Companies won't get in trouble with regulators if they stick to the truth about their products and improve the way customers interact with them. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be careful about what they say -- but that goes for anything a company says. It's not something special to blogging but blogging does make it easy for people to say whatever they want (like folks do in an email).

John: Do you know of any drug company examples of blogs?

Shahid: Lots of firms are talking about it but I don't expect to see anything until late '06 or early '07. There are a few CIO’s and CEO’s at hospitals blogging, but nothing on the drug company or medical device side yet.

John: Thanks Shahid for the interview.


Posted by johncass at 1:09 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 20, 2005

Studying Blogging At Northeastern University

Leigh Taginski writes a post on the Advanced Organizational Communication blog about "blogging as organizational communications." Leigh is writing an essay for Dr. Walter Carl's class at Northeastern University's on organizational communication.

Leigh's essay sought to answer the question, "Why would you study blogging in an organizational communication class? What concepts from organizational communication give you any special insight into blogging?"

Leigh Taginski's essay describes the opportunities and threats that come from blogging within a company. Specifically there is opportunity in blogging,

"In an economy and society where everything seems to be standardized and codified, blogs are a breath of fresh air for organizational communication. No longer is the communication between customers and companies like pulling teeth. No longer is the CEO behind 3 doors of security on the top floor keeping his personality hidden behind fancy memos and generic emails. Blogs are giving customers and employees a voice and companies an ear."

While the threat in blogging is that, "Employees are not always happy with their jobs and a blog to the world on bad practices could mean the end of their reputation."

Leigh Taginski provides a good argument for why the truth, openness and honesty through blogging may provide companies with increased credibility in their dealings with customers and other stakeholders.

I’d say in today's world of the Internet, responding to feedback is vitally important if a company is to maintain credibility, a company's audience and the wider public are able to generate content on the web. That content can be found easily enough through the major search engines. Where once customer feedback might have only affected a few customers, today disaffected customers can influence thousands if not millions of their fellow customers.

Leigh Taginski finishes the essay by demonstrating the power of blogs, and their importance by describing some of the negative consequences that have occurred as a result of blogging.

"Jobs have been lost over blog content and company reputations have been smeared. These important implications prove that this tool is a serious medium that needs to be understood, and studied; but at the very least make people aware that it exists and what it can do."

Leigh ends, the essay by stating, "Blogs offer a space to enrich or hurt an organization’s communication climate and the impacts can no longer be ignored as the age of the blogosphere picks up speed."

It's true I think; blogging is having an impact on companies. I'm often asked about the value of blogging, and this blog interviews bloggers regularly to find examples of sales from corporate blogging or higher search engine rankings. But I think Leigh Taginski's essay provides a lot of insight into the power and value of blogging though its ability to give employees and companies the ability to enter into dialogue and give companies a higher level of transparency.


Posted by johncass at 10:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 19, 2005

Rich Karlgaard Of Forbes.com, Thoughts On The Value Of Blogging

Rich Karlgaard writes about his experiences after blogging for two months on Forbes.com. Here's my response to his article.

Rich thought, "Blogging is not over hyped."

Rich your right, blogging to me is really a conversation between people that's open to the public on the World Wide Web. For me I don't define blogging to websites called blogs, I think this way of communicating encompasses many electronic designs including forums. But blogs really illustrate the collaborative strengths of the web. As for your discussion about self-actualization, makes sense to me, if everyone else is using the web to communicate, why wouldn't you want to blog?

Rich went on to state, "On don't judge blogging by the "average" blog."

Again Rich is right, most blogs don't have any relevancy to Rich or me. Rich thought a number of blogs are "amateurish," I would suggest the "amateurish," nature of blogs can actually be an advantage. As an amateurish voice may be perceived as the customer's real voice both for fellow customers and product managers. Several companies in the industry are basing their business models on research into the vast majority of blog content, including Cymfony, intelliseek's BrandPulse, BuzzMetrics and Umbria.

Rich mentioned Daniel Lyon's article in Forbes, "Attack of the blogs," where Daniel Lyon described a number of bloggers who attacked companies. I thought Daniel Lyon's article did not give bloggers a fair review overall. And stated this in my blog post, "Forbes Article Claims Microsoft, IBM, SUN & Oracle Bloggers are part of an Online Lynch Mob."

Rich basically wrote how he thought that the majority of bloggers would respond positively to a company if they act responsively, and gave a great example of an airplane manufacturer who failed to be transparent with their audience and paid the price in ridicule.

Rich is right as long as a company is decent and transparent about its actions. Most bloggers will treat the company fairly. Though Daniel Lyons is also right that sometimes a company might be attacked aggressively, but the way to respond is again with openness and transparency. If you build enough of an audience they will probably also come to your rescue.

In an interview for case study with Microsoft earlier this year George Pulikkathara, Marketing Manager and founder of MSDN Webcasts, describes the spelling mistake incident. Where a customer found a spelling mistake with a Microsoft product, and blogged about the issue. Microsoft bloggers responded to the customer's blog post a few days later. I followed up with the customer later in the year to determine check the facts of the case as a forum poster had questioned my sanity in believing a Microsoft employee. The story checked out, but also the customer described how he has changed his perceptions of Microsoft because of blogging from negative to neutral. Some would say this is not great progress but I think it demonstrates how blogging can inspire people to consider a company in a different way by just demonstrating that 'just people' run the company.

Posted by johncass at 4:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2005

Healthcare Blogging

I was recently talking with a client about the healthcare industry and blogging. The healthcare industry is a highly regulated industry, there is very little blogging being conducted by healthcare organizations because of their generally conservative approach to online communications.

Healthcare organizations have only just got into search engine marketing in the last few years. This situation is changing, Hospital Impact is a good example of a blog that was launched in March of 2005 http://www.hospitalimpact.org/index.php and if you review their blog roll on the right hand navigation, there are a number of healthcare organizations and industry professionals participating in the blogosphere. One healthcare leader who is blogging is F. Nicholas Jacobs, FACHE - President & CEO of Windber Research Institute and Windber Medical Center who runs the Winderber Blog.

Posted by johncass at 2:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 15, 2005

Blog Design Reveals A Company's Level of Transparency

Andy Wibbels on the Instant Global Impact blog highlights the term synthetic transparency. Andy thinks the term has value and he states that synthetic transparency, “describes the tendency to manage perceptions and not actually address problems. It targets that ‘OMG we have a blog we are totally open now (with comments off, trackbacks off, no contact form, no byline, no bio Info and third person writing).?

I wonder if a blog design does automatically convey the impression of openness, or is it the elements of blog design trackbacks, and comments that give the impression of openness?

I’ve stated this before in the post, “Using ‘Synthetic Transparency’ to set Expectations on the level Transparency Found on your Corporate Blog?, I think a web owner can do what they want with their website. However, if you want to work and have a dialogue with an online community, if you hope to build successful relationships and standing in a community you have to learn their norms of communicating and play by their rules.

So Andy I must disagree, I think that a company is being transparent when they turn off comments, a company is basically showing by blog design they don’t want to accept comments and visitors will make their own conclusions about the website design. The design is a statement in itself about a company’s level of transparency.

However, if comments are turned on, but only certain comments are accepted, even though those comments might be legitimate and thoughtful comments then that is a case of synthetic transparency.

Posted by johncass at 10:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2005

Demonstrate The Value Of Blogging With Case Studies

Blogsurvey started in May of this year as a support blog to the Backbone Media Corporate Blogging survey, once the study had been published, blogsurvey continues to explore the value of corporate blogging. While I’m convinced of the value of blogging, mainly because of my background in the search engine optimization industry, blogging provides an acceptable way to generate valuable relevant content quickly, and you don’t have to go begging for links. I do think that we don’t have enough good case studies that show the value of blogging in a traditional sense, i.e. sales developed, traffic generated etc.

Now I strongly believe that blogs are the best way for a company to get their message out by communicating with that portion of their audience who are generating content online and reading consumer generated content online, just as advertising and PR were some of the best ways to get a message to an audience through traditional media. I do think that if companies can provide good case studies what actually show numbers, we’d have less people querying the value of blogs.

Posted by johncass at 11:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 13, 2005

Boston Product Manager's Association Blogging Event

The Boston Product Manager’s Association is hosting a blogging discussion about product development on February 16th. I contacted the association a few months ago, as I really wanted to discuss the issue of blogging and product development with product managers in the Boston area.

I will be speaking and moderating the event, with Tim Buntel from Macromedia and Scott Wilder from Intuit, Scott is flying out from California for the event.

Similar to previous presentations, I thought it would be great if I reached out to the Product Manager’s Association prior to the meeting and asked for their questions about the value of blogging for product managers. Please click on the comment link below and post a question you have for the panel.

Here are Tim and Scott’s bios:

Tim Buntel is Product Manager for ColdFusion at Macromedia. In addition to his role on the product team, he frequently lectures, teaches, and writes about Macromedia technology. He has been a ColdFusion developer himself for many years. http://www.buntel.com

Scott K. Wilder is currently the Group Manager of Intuit's QuickBooks Online Community and Collaboration website. Before working at Intuit, he was the Vice President of Marketing and Product Development at KBtoys.com and eToys.

He has held numerous senior management positions at America Online, Apple Computer, Borders.com and American Express. When Scott worked at America Online and its subsidiary, GNN.com, Scott was involved in creating the first online advertisement, online chat Virtualplaces.com) and commercial website. Scott received master's degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and New York University.

Here’s the link and write up on the Product Manager’s Association website:

http://bostonproducts.org/events.php

Thursday, February 16, 2006
Using Blogs for Product Feedback and Development
Panel discussion led by John Cass, Backbone Media Inc.
This panel discussion will focus on how and why blogging can be used as a method of information gathering by product managers. John will present case studies on how a company has used a blog to gather customer product feedback and what you need to do to be successful in using blogs to gather customer product feedback.

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MySpace Generation Business Week Article And Buidling Better Products With Consumer Generated Media

Business Week’s special report on the MySpace generation got me thinking about how companies can use consumer generated media to build better products and communities. John Hiler's response to the demand for larger ads from advertisers illustrates a factor in consumer generated media that's really important, that focusing on what the customer wants is the way to build a successful product and community.

"Xanga co-founder John Hiler has resisted intrusive forms of advertising like spyware or pop-ups, selling only the conventional banner ads. When advertisers recently demanded more space for larger ads, Hiler turned the question over to Xanga bloggers, posting links to three examples of new ads. More than 3,000 users commented pro and con, and Hiler went with the model users liked best. By involving them, Hiler kept the personal connection that many say they feel with network founders -- even though Xanga's membership has expanded to 21 million."

Whether your dealing with teenagers or adults in the technology industry, the old rules of marketing still apply, its important to listen to your customers if you are going to build strong communities and products. Macromedia uses blogs for product development and has completely transformed its product development process by asking for feedback on its products on employee blogs. Macromedia customers have responded with comments and trackbacks sent to the Macromedia blogs giving feedback and praise for the willingness of Macromedia to involve their customers in the process of product development.

Whether is Xanaga or a corporate blogging community, the power of social networking is dramatic, any company should be asking itself the question today, "how can my company use the power of my customers and social networking to build better products and improve marketing promotion??

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December 12, 2005

Andrew Gowers, Former FT Editor's Views On Blogging

Andrew Gowers the former Editor of the Financial Times from the United Kingdom took part in an interview with Patrick Philips of iwantmedia.com in July of this year. Gowers is now heading up the British Government’s review of copyright issues relating to sound recordings.

Living in the UK in 1980’s, the Financial Times was a particular favorite of mine as a great source of news.

Here’s what Andrew had to say about blogging in the interview with Philips:

IWM: What is your opinion of blogging?

Gowers: I think it is both a fad and something of great potential significance. The faddish part is the idea that everybody can be a blogger, and that this will somehow supplant journalism. That's clearly nonsense, and the vast majority of "Daily Me" blogs are like a vast, overheated Internet chat room.

But there are some things of great value out there in the blogosphere, and the growth of blogs has brought into vivid relief the true interactive potential of the Web.

Andrew might be right about the faddish nature of blogs in the sense that the hoopla centered on blogs and the latest launch of a blog will hopefully disappear soon. However, when he states that blogs will not supplant journalism I’d argue that blogs are really just another design of a website. And that the design of a blog leads to higher efficiencies in terms of being able to publish, I think we have already seen certain blogs become important sources of news for many online audiences. But those online newspapers may have to take on more blogging elements if they are going to compete and survive in the 21st century. As this article on community journalism in the 21st century demonstrates, a free paper now has better coverage precisely because the editor is using community journalists to write a lot of their online articles. Leaving the reporters to do more legwork and find original stories.

Posted by johncass at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 9, 2005

Snow Day in Waltham!

With up to 10 inches of snow in some parts of eastern Massachusetts this morning, many Backbone Media employees are working from home today, or at least coming in late to let the snow plows clear away the snow.

While mildly disrupting to an Internet company like Backbone Media where most of our employees can work from home, the weather brings a certain beauty to the season. Safe driving and best wishes for the season!

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December 8, 2005

Nokia N90 Blogger Relations Campaign

Jeremy Pepper writes a great review of the Nokia N90 blogger relations campaign, he gives a positive review of the campaign and the telephone. I’d like to see more blogger relations reviews in the future. We need to get away from traditional media blog announcements and provide the growing network of corporate bloggers with some solid case studies on what works and what does not.

Interestingly, Nokia mentions Jeremy’s blog review on their blog.

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December 7, 2005

Podcast, Word of 2005! Blogger Relations in 2006!

If Podcast is the word of the year in 2005, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary; what will be the word of the year in 2006? I’d venture to say you would not have to look further than the Blog Relations blog, I think 'Blogger Relations' might be the phrase of the year in 2006.

Posted by johncass at 3:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 6, 2005

Don’t get bitten by the Rat

Chuck Tanowitz writes about the problem of having the time to carefully reading blogger’s and journalist’s writings before contacting them in his recent post, “The Rats Nest.? If you don’t take the time to read a post as a PR or marketing person, then when you contact a journalist and pitch a story that’s inappropriate or already been written about by the author, you will actually waste your time and the writers. While it takes so much time to conduct research, you actually save time and money for your client’s if you take the time to conduct the research first. It’s tough to do, but it’s imperative especially in today’s world of blogs to read a blogger’s writings. Sending a bad story to a blogger can have far worse consequences then sending a poor story to a journalist, the worse a journalist will do is not print the story and take you off their email list. While a blogger can heavily criticize both the PR professional and the client for the pitch, if the blogsphere is a maze as Chuck suggests, then watch out as you might get bitten by a rat!

Posted by johncass at 10:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 5, 2005

BuzzAgent's Whitepaper on Transparency

BuzzAgent the company that produces word of mouth campaigns has just released a study on the effects of transparency to word of mouth campaigns. If you disclose that a participant in a program is volunteering for the program, BuzzAgent discovered a campaign will not suffer here are the results.

* Disclosure does not reduce word of mouth activity
* Disclosure creates peer trust
* Disclosure combats "stealth" stigma
* Disclosure supports perceived product value
* Disclosure increases depth and reach of product-related discussions

These results are interesting for the current discussion about revealing a connection with a company, when a company has not compensated a word-of-mouth campaign participant. In October a non-profit called Commercial Alert sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, suggesting that certain word of mouth campaigns are deceptive, and that the commission should investigate them.

See my article on the Commercial Alert letter, "Endorsement Without Disclosure: Commercial Alert FTC Letter Points To P & G and Buzz Marketing", and my subsequent post "More Perspectives On The Commercial Alert Letter," where I agree with Dr. Walter Carl of Northeastern University that a participant's association should be revealed, even if not required by law.

Posted by johncass at 10:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 2, 2005

Blogging Increases Costs From Bank of America Boston Merger

When Bank of America purchased Fleet Financial in Boston a few years ago, the Boston Business Journal reported an analyst from RBC, Gerard Cassidy, estimated, “that Bank of America would have to cut 9,000 to 11,000 jobs to create half the desired savings. The remainder would come from other areas, such as marketing, real estate, supplies and services.? The Bank wanted to make $1.6 billion in savings from the merger.

Bank of America would make savings by cutting staff especially in marketing from regional centers. Marketing might be centralized at corporate in Charlotte, N.C.

With corporate blogging becoming more important in the next few years some of those savings might have to be reduced. Here’s why, corporate blogging works best when its coordinated with a search engine optimization strategy, and if a Bank is targeting a regional center, say Boston, it would only be appropriate that a local based Boston Banker would blog about Boston Banking issues. If local customers want to have a dialogue with Bank of America, they would not want to talk with someone based in North Carolina, customers would most want to read blog articles from a local corporate blogger.

Blogging is on the way and for certain industries, it does not matter where the content is written, however, I can foresee a time when companies will have to encourage business blogging amongst their regional centers. Costs might rise, but so does the potential for additional exposure in a local market. Much of the development in search engines and websites has been towards locally based websites. Blogs will be no different. Profits will rise as search engine rankings rise on local search terms, if a national company can demonstrate its local connection through the use of corporate blogs.

The title of this post was never printed in a newspaper, but this might be a headline you will see in the future.


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December 1, 2005

Blogging Research Companies Cull Data From Many Online Communities Beyond Blogging

Joe Mandese and Wendy Davis from Online Media Daily published an article about the market research company, BuzzMetrics, "BuzzMetrics syndicates research culled from blogosphere."

BuzzMetrics is now providing market research data to TV companies about the success or failure of their programs based upon Buzz Metric's culling of consumer generated media in blogs, forums and websites. Television executives can use the data to look into the current consumer buzz around their shows.

Joe Mandese and Wendy Davis ask the question, "how representative such metrics are of the consumer population at large?" This is an issue I've been thinking about since I conducted the first corporate blogging survey in 2004, and was reinforced by the Backbone Corporate Blogging Survey this year, basically if companies are using blogs for product development with their customers, how truly representative are customer product suggestions from customers who read blogs. It's not just a matter of the amount of people reading or creating blogs, it’s a matter of not using good sampling methods to get an opinion about products from a representative sample. This issue is something I discussed in my earlier post, "Comparing the value of customer insights from blog generated data and panel samples."

In another post, "Using Consumer Generated Media For Market Research," Cymfony employee, Jeffrey Feldman's post is featured where he suggested Consumer Generated Media “analysis still can’t yet tell you if the prevailing opinion expressed online is representative of your target market, or only present in a different group.?

Joe Mandese and Wendy Davis are correct in asking their question about the validity of data from blogs, I do think the their mention of Universal McCann's research that bloggers only represent about 2 percent of the US population, underestimates the volume of consumer generated media available for analysis on the web. The Pew Internet Project discovered that 44% of Internet users have generated content on the web. If you look past blogs, and think of forums and news groups, that's where the majority of content is being created currently with consumer generated media. Market research companies who specialize in monitoring consumer generated media; BuzzMetrics, Umbria, Cmyfong, and Intelliseek include data from other websites besides blogs, that information would have rounded out Joe Mandese and Wendy Davis’s article.

Really blogs have been the toll bell that has alerted the marketing community to the new phenomenon of consumer generated media, but a company has to look beyond them to the total volume of content generated by customers on the web.

Even if we look past blogging data, consumer generated media still might not be representative, Joe Mandese and Wendy Davis interview Max Kalehoff, the VP of Marketing of BuzzMetrics in their Online Media article. Max talks about the usefulness of the data,

"Is it representative of the U.S. population? No," concedes Max Kalehoff, vice president-marketing at BuzzMetrics, adding: "and that's precisely the reason that it's so valuable." By looking at discrete subsets of consumers--in the case of TV*BuzzMetrics, TV enthusiasts--Kalehoff says marketers, agencies, or media companies can gauge people who are "so engaged, so passionate, and care so much about the product" that they're actually discussing it online with others."

In my post, "Validating Customer Generated Comments on Blogs and the Web," an interview with Mary Beth Weber, Executive Vice President for SigmaValidation, a market research firm, Mary Beth discusses the problems associated with using data from consumer generated media,

“if someone is going to blog about a company or product, they will have had either an exceptionally good experience or an exceptionally bad experience. So if you are listening to customer bloggers you may think you have more problems than good, as typically people are more motivated to express their bad experiences.?

The industry still has far to go with the use of consumer generated media for market or product research, but as my own interviews with Macromedia and Microsoft have demonstrated corporate blogging can give companies useful product data. BuzzMetrics is providing a useful service to the television industry and their method of covering the industry also provides a good model to other agencies and solution providers on how to approach a particular industry.


Posted by johncass at 1:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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