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January 30, 2006

Deciding Who Should Write a Blog In A Software Company

To determine who should write your company’s blog, ask yourself whom your customers most want to chat with when your company has to do a sales presentation? Your answer will probably be the person who can answer a customer’s questions about how to get the most out of your application.

If you provide very complex software, where developers are using the application or toolset, the developers probably most want to chat with your chief developer or the CTO. If you have a business application, it’s the product manager or customer service manager. The person who should blog is the person who can actually teach your customers how to use your application and get the most out of its use.

Are you concerned that your CTO and product manager does not have time to blog, that they are too busy preparing presentations, writing white papers, and talking to customers?

That’s the point! Technology is important, and time needs to be spent developing your application, but to build really successful software, you have to talk with customers about their needs. While to sell software and retain customers a company has to start and continue a dialogue with their customers. A blog is a website that allows you to have a dialogue with an audience, either directly by general posts, or by giving an audience the ability to see the interaction between the blogger and one reader at a time.

I like to imagine and compare the process of blogging to a CTO of a software company chatting with their firm’s largest customers on the telephone, except in this case, 5,000 people are listening in on the call through the benefit of blogging.

A blog takes the expertise of your product builders and customer communicators and puts it on for display for the entire world to see. With a blog your entire audience can learn from your expert's knowledge directly by reading the blog, and your audience learns how your company deals with people by how your blogger connects with your audience.

If you had to give a presentation to your most important customer, would you send a ghostwriter, or your public relations director? No, I think not. Consider who the experts are in your software company, and encourage them to write your company’s blog.


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January 27, 2006

Update On The MIT Weblog Study

Cameron Marlow is the MIT student who developed the MIT weblog study, I had recently written an article about Cameron not publishing his results within the time scheduled published on his blog. But I thought it would be the polite thing to do to contact Cameron directly and ask him some questions about the background to missing the deadline. Cameron wrote a post on his personal blog about the MIT Weblog survey issue, he just got slammed for time with his new job at Yahoo! He apologizes to the community for not publishing the results and also realizes he should have done a better job of informing the participants of what was going on. Well the good news is that he has been working away analyzing the results and hopes to publish them in the next few weeks.

One interesting factor in the success of getting the word out about his blog is that initially Cameron did not get much response, once he developed some nice looking web buttons the number of respondents increased dramatically. So maybe it was not the MIT brand after that helped Cameron to get thousands of respondents but a cute button. I am sure it was a combination of factors, but great looking images that people can put on their websites is a great way to increase your exposure and coverage when it comes to non-representational research.

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January 25, 2006

Search Engine Strategies New York

Backbone Media will be exhibiting at the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York on March 1st and 2nd. Look for our booth and stop by get an SEO or blogging review Backbone employees.

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Blog Marketing Build’s Brands Through Conversations

Debbie Weil thinks that fortune 500 companies are afraid of Blog Marketing. I think I disagree with her on this one. To me it’s the marketing concept, and a lack of understanding of what marketing is all about. Though most fortune 500 companies probably actually do have a better understanding of the value of marketing than most companies.

Many marketing managers concentrate most of their efforts on advertising and promotion. Really product managers and market researchers deal with building value for customers. Therefore it’s hard to demonstrate to a marketing manager that they will get a lot of value from a blog, as they are looking for sales lead graphs.

As an online marketer working in the search engine optimization industry, I deal with clients who are looking for ROI and sales leads on a daily basis. And that’s what we do in our search engine optimization business we provide leads to clients through our SEO and PPC services.

Backbone Media explains to clients that blogging can help with search engine rankings for companies, that’s true, yet in reality the way to get the most benefit from blogging is not by focusing on sales leads, its by building strong brands. Blog marketing’s ability to build brand is the issue that I find so exciting and fascinating as a marketer.

To build a successful website you have to develop a lot of relevant content that people want to read and link too over time. You cannot write drivel and a bunch of keywords, oh you might get a few click thru’s but in the long term your site will lose rankings, maybe even get it banned and overall you will generate few leads.

The reason why a company should invest in blog marketing is not because of the leads. You should invest in blog marketing because blogging will help your company to:

· Demonstrate its leadership in your industry,
· Provide a connection to your audience and peers,
· Start a wider conversation with your marketplace,
· Demonstrate its value, its online brand on the web.

And once you’ve demonstrated your value and brand, you will generate sales leads.

That’s why Fortune 500 companies have not started blogs, they don’t see the value, business people and marketing people look for sales, when blogging and these new types of web design will actually allow companies to develop brand online. Sales are easily to explain and demonstrate, brand is difficult to explain, and harder to measure. Yet any marketing person worth their salt understands that sales is part of marketing, that its easy to get sales, but tough to retain customers for the long term, that requires loyalty and a demonstration of brand value. Blog marketing gives a marketing manager a powerful tool to build a brand and demonstrate their company’s brand online. Once a powerful online brand is built, links, rankings and sales will follow.

We are still in the early days of blogging, but as more and more companies like Intuit, Microsoft and Macromedia use blogging to build their brands online, more and more companies will understand the value of blog marketing is that they build brands through conversations.

Posted by johncass at 12:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

Mining The Blogosphere

Chris Hoyt of Hoyt and company recently wrote a great article on the mining of the blogosphere by blog metrics companies, Intelliseek, BuzzMetrics and Umbra. Intelliseek and BuzzMetrics recently merged. I found Chris’s article to be very well written because of the overview of the current blogosphere, in terms of the growing importance of blogs for marketing people. I also found Chris’s arguments for the need for blog metrics companies very compelling, he asked the question, if your community of bloggers numbers 4,500 blogs, how can a company possibility monitor all of those blogs at the same time? I did think that Chris’s coverage of the blog metrics industry was not comprehensive enough however, there are several other companies that should be included in the industry overview.

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January 20, 2006

Blogger Relations Is Not Media Relations For Bloggers

Blogger relations is not media relations for bloggers. Even though some would define the term that way, I don’t. I don’t perceive blogger relations to be the process of connecting with bloggers to pitch a story or interview. That to me is traditional PR or media relations. Rather blogger relations is the process of connecting with peers and your audience to develop relevant content that illustrates your message and brand through content and responsiveness.

I think a number of people will disagree with me on this one, probably Andy Abramson with the Nokia blogger relations campaign. That campaign was a traditional product review program that expanded the list of reviewers to bloggers, and used a blog to report on the progress of negative and positive reviews. I think such blogger outreach programs should be part of the tool kit of any marketing and PR department. Further, that’s Andy’s program has been very successful because Andy understands that being open and responsive is the only way to be successful when conducting a review program with bloggers.

Yet I really do see a difference between contacting someone to discuss or argue a point, and contacting them to pitch a story or ask for a review. The difference is that traditionally a PR professional would not have connected with a journalist, or thought leader to discuss issues, there would be no reason to do that. With blogs people have the ability to self publish easily, and so there’s a mechanism and a reason for having the discussion, that opportunity to have a conversation is what distinguishes blogger relations from public relations and media relations.

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January 19, 2006

How And When To Avoid Synthetic Transparency

Steve Rubel touches on the issue of synthetic transparency today, though he did not use the term. He was listening to a question given to one of the panels at the word of mouth conference.

“Idil Kakim from Burson Marsteller asked the panelists whether companies needed to address every single comment/question that comes in on their blogs.?

Several of the panelists thought that you did not have to respond to every comment; instead you can answer a number of comments in a post or article. I think a company or blogger can do what ever they want to do on their blog. However, as a corporate blogger you have to be aware of the norms of your community, and frankly just the process of responding to customers. If your customers expect that you will respond as a blogger, you should. If I asked the question should a company respond to every telephone call, you’d say yes. But if as an individual you don’t have the capacity to respond then you have to design your blog comment policy in a way that sets the expectations with the readers that you are only going to respond to some people. I highlight this in my article, ? Using ‘Synthetic Transparency’ to set Expectations on the level Of Transparency Found On Your Corporate Blog,? on General Motors, and provide some suggestions to the Fastlane bloggers on how they should handle comment feedback.

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January 18, 2006

How Blogging Changes The Rules On Talking About Your Competitors

Your major competitors just announced that they are merging, and the news is all over the wire, industry newspapers and the blogosphere. Do you try to ignore it or do what Jim Nail did at Cymfony when BuzzMetrics announced they had purchased Intelliseek yesterday? Jim’s company, Cymfony is a major competitor of BuzzMetrics. Jim wrote a post on the BuzzMetrics/Intelliseek merger and also wrote at least one comment on Steve Rubel’s article about the merger yesterday.

Jim’s post containing some great insight into his depth of experience in the industry Jim also succeeded on several other blogging fronts. By using the keyword BuzzMetrics in his title post and scattered throughout the article Jim got his company associated with a competitor’s brand name, probably for the blogging search engines rather than majors.

While search engine strategy should always come second to creating relevant content. Until corporate blogs were around there was no good way to put content about your competitors on a traditional website. With the advent of blogs, as an industry commenter not only is it natural for Jim to comment on the industry and his competitors but it’s required.

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January 17, 2006

Merger in the Word-of-mouth industry – BuzzMetrics & Intelliseek

Surprising news today, BuzzMetrics buys Intelliseek to form the company Nielsen BuzzMetrics. Both BuzzMetrics and intelliseek are leaders in the word-of-mouth marketing or consumer generated media measurement industry.

Many larger companies are using blog metrics services for the purpose of market research, but rather than representative research, such companies use sophisticated mathematics to compile observational research for their customers.

Combining technology and human analysis expertise blog metrics companies build databases of the web, which are then analyzed using natural language techniques that allow them to report on consumers opinions across thousands of sites, from blogs, to forums, to newsgroups and beyond.

Blog marketing in my view is a combination of blogging, public relations and search engine optimization. Conducting successful blogger relations campaigns requires a thorough measurement of your community, while many of these blog metrics services maybe beyond the budgets of most companies for blog marketing. From my review of several of these companies it’s my understanding that most companies are using their data for PR and marketing measurement and market research.

Read the press release, “VNU Brings Together BuzzMetrics, Intelliseek to Create Nielsen BuzzMetrics Service,? the new company’s “clients include: Canon, Comcast, Ford, General Motors, HBO, Kraft, Microsoft, Nokia, P&G, Showtime, Sony, Target and Toyota. Others include 14 of the top 15 pharmaceutical companies and over eight television networks.?

Steve Rubel poses an important question here, “Nielsen, like other research companies that track and measure the media, was faced with a vexing issue. Namely: How do you evolve when the very media ecosystem on which you built your business is eroding? The answer is to acquire smart thinkers who have figured out ways to analyze, measure and live in a world where the Long Tail dominates.?

And Steve goes on to make the point in the fast growing world of consumer generated media, its easier to buy those boffins who have spent years researching the industry.

Neville Hobson reviews the future for the owners of the new company, VNU, “VNU itself is in the final stages of being acquired by a consortium including some of the world's biggest private equity groups who made a non-binding offer for VNU yesterday, valuing the company at up to €7.3 billion ($8.8 billion).?


Thanks Jeremy!

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January 16, 2006

A Blogging Survey You Can Ignore

Shel Holtz writes about the recent CEO blogging survey by David Davis and concludes this is one survey you can pass on. Shel does not trust the authenticity of the data, as the participants are not cited. I wrote an article about the CEO blog survey recently, expressing a few concerns with the data.

“Though there may be some problems with this data, as the survey had asked the question, “Do you write your own blogs without advice?? That might mean a CEO consults people in their company when preparing their own posts, but writes and publishes the eventual copy, or it might mean the CEO’s don’t write their own post.?

And I wrote.

“I was impressed with the amount of companies David contacted, several thousand is a lot. From my own experience with the data from the Backbone Media Corporate blogging survey, every single question had a different number of respondents, one reason why I recorded the number of respondents to each question in the results. It surprised me that the CEO survey had 92% across the board for every question. However, 690 respondents is still a great number. I asked David Davis another question about how he put the respondents together, David responded, “I decided a target pool of 750 at the outset and when that figure was built it emerged, somewhat by coincidence, that it represented across the board industries. My objective was a meaningful number rather than industry representation.?

The survey goes on to explain that the reason people don’t write their own blogs is because 48% of people find the blog too time consuming and 39% had difficulty in expressing themselves in writing, so that means 13% of the survey participants did not answer the question. Maybe I am quibbling here, but if the 100% represents 690 people and 17% of 690 had responded by saying that they did not blog there is a discrepancy in the numbers, as at least 17% of the survey participants should not have responded to this question, as it would not have applied to them. Maybe David Davis can clarify that issue? However it does support the first question in the survey as it indicates that survey respondents understood the context of the first question, if 690 responded to the second question.?

Update: I did not click through on Shel's link, and thought this post was about the survey for writer4business.com not Write2Market.com. My apologies to David Davis for the reference, John Cass

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New Communications Forum - March 1st - 3rd Palo Alto, CA

New Communications Forum.bmp

New Communications Forum will take place March 1 - 3, 2006 in Palo Alto, CA. This premiere conference will bring together the industry's leaders from around the globe to discuss the impact of participatory communications on media, marketing, PR, and advertising.

I will be speaking at the conference on the panel about new trends in search.

Keynotes and breakout sessions will examine how blogs, wikis, podcasts, videocasts and other emerging tools, technologies and modes of communication are affecting media and organizations and how communications professionals are harnessing these tools to engage in market conversations, deepen and strengthen relationships with key audiences, gain new insights into their audiences' perceptions and behavior and achieve bottom line results.

NewComm Forum will focus on both strategy and practical on-the-ground tips and tactics, address the tough questions, present case studies and success stories from leading organizations and examine what's coming in the future.

Register at www.newcommforum.com or call (650) 331-0083.

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January 13, 2006

Complex Product Companies Receive The Most Blog Comments

I was in a teleconference this week with several fellows from the Society for New Communications Research, and we were discussing the issue of which blogs get more comments from their audience.

Steve King with the Institute for the future made an excellent point, that those companies with highly complex products, especially technology products tend to get more comments because customers or users have more questions about how to use the products, while those companies with simple products will get less comments because there is less to learn.

I thought this was interesting, and partly explains why technology companies have been so successful with blogs, and I was also thinking that for some companies even though they have highly technical products they do not get much feedback from customers, at least in the public forum of the blog comment space.

Indium Corporation comes to mind as an example of a company that blogs but does not get comments. Rick Short the VP of Marketing at Indium has told me that the company gets a good amount of traffic for his industry, but does not get a lot of public comments. Most of the interaction between the company’s blogs is through email.

Indium provides products and services for electronic assembly materials, and the companies who use their services, electronic assembly manufacturers, often don’t want their competitors to know what they are doing, as it might indicate problems they are having with their plant or plans for expansion. Customers in Indium’s industry are reluctant to leave public comments, but they are happy to send comments directly to the Indium bloggers. Therefore a lack of comments may not indicate a lack of audience interaction or interest, it may mean that everything is happening in back channels.

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January 12, 2006

How Do You Optimize A Blog For Search Engines?

The process at Backbone Media, Inc. for optimizing web pages with our clients is that the client writes a web page and then sends that page to Backbone for review and optimization. When it comes to optimizing blog posts we are in a different situation, search engine optimization advice has to come before a post is made, it’s more of an effort to teach a writer to optimize a post themselves. The reason for this situation is that bloggers once they have finished a post may want to quickly publish their article because the article has current news value, or they may be answering another writer’s comments or ideas on the web.

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January 11, 2006

What Is RSS?

Today, I was asked the question what is RSS? It occurred to me that many people are not familiar with the term or understand how the technology works between websites and web visitors, so I thought I’d discuss the issue.

RSS or really simple syndication is not as you might think an example of stick man cartoons being syndicated through national newspapers but the syndication of one website’s content to another website or RSS feed reader.

As you are reading this post, a number of other visitors are reading this same post through their RSS feed reader. Bloglines.com is an example of a web based RSS feed reader.

The advantage to the visitor who is using an RSS feed reader is that you know if the content on a website or blog has been updated without actually visiting the website. RSS feed readers are designed in such a way that the visitor can review a large number of feeds all at the same time. Some people have 50, 100, or several hundred feeds in their feed reader. The design is much more efficient than email, in that typically an email user does not know when they are going to receive an email, for example a monthly newsletter, but with RSS the visitor can ask for the content when they are ready to receive the information. RSS makes the process of monitoring content updates much more efficient. An RSS feed can be used by a visitor or website to request for updates to a website on a periodic basis or when a visitor returns to their feed reader.

What’s interesting is that the demand for content from publishers increases with RSS, instead of cursing more regular email newsletters than once a month, an RSS feed reader might begin to question the same content provider’s ability to produce content when they are not writing every few days.

The marketing opportunity is that your customers will be more likely to read your content, as you can break up the content into chucks over time, and also the RSS reader is able to see more content then they could ever do before.

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January 10, 2006

Keyword Strategy For Blog Marketing

It’s interesting, but yes I believe that there is a different keyword strategy for search engines for blog marketing compared to search engine optimization for a corporate website. I rush to state that the content strategy of your blogging efforts should first and foremost concentrate on developing relevant content for your audience, if the blog is going to be successful. That does stretch to providing simple definitions for industry keywords. As a director of marketing you might have a list of closely guarded converting keywords, and those keywords should certainly be considered when writing your blog. But there may be a list of keywords that will not get you many conversions in terms of sales but will attract traffic on thought leadership issues in your industry.

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January 9, 2006

The New Realm of Digital Influencers – Navigating the Blogosphere

I am on a panel discussion on February 23rd 2006 for the Yankee chapter of the IABC, The New Realm of Digital Influencers — Navigating the Blogosphere.

Blogs are certainly a hot topic around the water fountain, or more likely, in the line at Starbucks, but should you be concerned about blogs as a communications professional? The answer is an emphatic YES! Blogs have become an incredibly important medium for communicating to key audiences including consumers, shareholders, employees and critics.

Blogs have been around for more than five years but in just the last couple of years the numbers of blogs has grown from under 100,000 mostly obscure sites to over 12 million blogs. It seems like everyone is blogging: journalists, college students, techies, soccer moms, corporations, government agencies, schools teachers and even young kids.

The rapid advent of blogs has not just added a new communications channel; it has changed the entire communications model for reaching internal and external audiences, especially consumers. Unlike the relatively slow adoption of email communications programs, marketers must act much more quickly to develop programs to communicate with bloggers.

This session will help answer:

· Should I be concerned about blogs, are they really that important? In the traditional world of press releases, print media and broadcast, many marketers believed that they could control or at least tightly manage, messaging about their products and companies. Whether this was ever really true or not, in the new digital world there should be no false hopes. Marketers can’t control messages or positioning in the new blogger-influenced digital communications model. Messaging and issues can take on a life of their own with lightening speed. A single loyal consumer or angry critic can have tremendous influence on thousands of other consumers by posting one message on a blog or message board.

· Who are the influencers? While communications professionals may not know the name or company affiliation of actual bloggers, they can understand how influential they are. This session will show you how.

How do I keep track of these digital influencers? All companies can benefit greatly from listening and responding to their digital audiences. As everyone knows bad news travels fast especially on the Internet. Knowing when bad news hits is critical to staying on top of a story and being able to minimize damage.

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January 7, 2006

83% Of Blogging CEO’s Have Ghost Writers

Dave Taylor wrote an often-quoted post about why CEO’s should not blog for the Global PR Blog week in 2005. A recent survey by David Davis from writer4business.com indicates that the survey participant CEO’s who blog, don’t always write their own blog.

“83% of the respondents said their blogs were written or drafted by someone else, although they approved the text before it was published. Of the 17%, who said they wrote their own blogs, most said they first asked for advice from HR and communications colleagues,? according to the survey, “Who is really behind bosses' blogs??

Though there may be some problems with this data, as the survey had asked the question, “Do you write your own blogs without advice?? That might mean a CEO consults people in their company when preparing their own posts, but writes and publishes the eventual copy, or it might mean the CEO’s don’t write their own post.

Curious about the survey and how it was put together, I asked David Davis about the survey, specifically how many people answered each question, David said, “750 was the overall respondent pool. Of the 750, all were bloggers and 92% answered all the questions. The respondents were drawn from across the board industries, medium to large and mostly with in-house PR people. To obtain the 750 pool we contacted several thousand companies. There was frequent but not excessive follow up largely by email.?

I was impressed with the amount of companies David contacted, several thousand is a lot. From my own experience with the data from the Backbone Media Corporate blogging survey, every single question had a different number of respondents, one reason why I recorded the number of respondents to each question in the results. It surprised me that the CEO survey had 92% across the board for every question. However, 690 respondents is still a great number. I asked David Davis another question about how he put the respondents together, David responded, “I decided a target pool of 750 at the outset and when that figure was built it emerged, somewhat by coincidence, that it represented across the board industries. My objective was a meaningful number rather than industry representation.?

The survey goes on to explain that the reason people don’t write their own blogs is because 48% of people find the blog too time consuming and 39% had difficulty in expressing themselves in writing, so that means 13% of the survey participants did not answer the question. Maybe I am quibbling here, but if the 100% represents 690 people and 17% of 690 had responded by saying that they did not blog there is a discrepancy in the numbers, as at least 17% of the survey participants should not have responded to this question, as it would not have applied to them. Maybe David Davis can clarify that issue? However it does support the first question in the survey as it indicates that survey respondents understood the context of the first question, if 690 responded to the second question.

Lastly, on the question in the survey, “How would you describe a 'ghost written' company blog,? 8% thought it’s a sham, 5% totally misleading, 43% marginally misleading, and 44% acceptable. So a majority of respondents have problems with ghost writing their blogs, but a significant minority thought the practice is acceptable.

If as Dave Taylor suggests that CEO’s should not blog for various reasons, time etc, then if the results of this survey are correct he might have a very strong basis for recommending CEO’s don’t blog. I personally think its all a matter of the goals of the company, and in the best of all worlds a CEO should blog. But if they don’t have the time or ability the writing and credit is best left to others.

Thanks to B.L. Ochman


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January 6, 2006

New Backbone Media Website

My company launched a new website this evening, check it out at www.backbonemedia.com.

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MIT Weblog Survey Results Fail To Appear

In 2005 many bloggers heard about a blogging survey from MIT and participated, I did as well. My colleague Kristine Munroe spotted this article about the survey today on The Universal Hub, “That's the last time I answer an MIT survey,? apparently the survey on weblogs was run by a PhD. Student who has not had time to publish the results. I have a call into MIT’s press department to clarify the facts.

In the meantime I thought I’d ask Kristine some questions about this survey in relations to her work on the Backbone Corporate Blogging Survey.

John: What did you think when you first heard the news about the MIT survey not being published?

Kristine: I was surprised, because the survey had been getting quite a bit of Internet publicity. A lot of people took the survey over the summer, and I couldn't understand why the results were still not published over four months later.

John: Do you think this story about the MIT survey reflects badly on the MIT brand?

Kristine: People are going to be much more wary of filling things out like that, especially from a university.

John: You helped to run the blog survey here at Backbone Media, Inc., any perspectives on the difficulties of running a similar survey and getting the results published?

Kristine: The survey participants were all extremely eager to see the results, so we first compiled some preliminary results before the actual results were published. This satisfied the bloggers who already took the survey and it also helped get more people to take the survey because they knew we were very intent on sharing the results.

It did initially take longer than we postulated to get a large amount of survey participants, which in turn made it take a few extra weeks to publish the full results. However, it's important to let potential survey participants to know what the end result will be. Nobody wants to take a survey when nothing is going to be done with the responses.

John: We’ve chatted about the next blogging survey from Backbone Media, Inc. in 2006, I've mentioned that I thought partnering with a University would be a good idea. What do you think of that idea now?

Kristine: It could be a good idea in terms of working with students and compiling more data. Although, now my fear is that potential survey participants might be more wary of putting time and effort into a lengthy survey with this idea in their heads that nothing is going to happen with their results.

John: So you’ve saying that this incident may well affect the whole industry in their response to future surveys. Thanks Kristine!

I will now think twice before I partner or take a survey from a University, and recommend that survey participants ask if a professor is involved with any University sponsored research.

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January 5, 2006

The GM Report Card From David Kline Get's It Nearly Right

David Kline offers a review of the General Motor’s blogging efforts. David interviewed Michael Wiley, the director of new media at General Motors. What was of particular interest to me was Michael’s discussion around the issue of product feedback from customers on the blog. Quoting from David Kline’s post,

‘“For one thing, some of the suggestions from readers have made it onto the desks of GM designers, which I think in the long run will improve the quality and appeal of our vehicles," Wiley explains.’

Fascinating to hear this, and parallels my conversations with Mike Chambers at Macromedia and other companies, where product development can be a consequence of blogging efforts.

When I wrote the piece, “The GM Blog: Lessons For Customer Blogging Relations,? in September it occurred to me that few pundits seem to talk to a blog's readers and spend most of their time chatting with the blogger. Corporate bloggers will show their best face, or may not even realize there are problems, as I think I demonstrated in the post about General Motors. That’s why I conducted several interviews with GM Fastlane blog readers and wrote the post. Many people had commented on the GM blog, but many did not receive a response from GM, even through customer perceived that they would receive a response, and I suggested some ideas as to how the GM Fastlane blog could handle the issue.

Mike Wiley goes onto state,

‘"But beyond that, I do think that there is less of a tendency to call GM a dinosaur relic lately. In fact, the Business Week cover story on blogging [last May] even referred to us as 'surprisingly nimble.'"

Companies want to know the value of blogging, it’s not really about getting PR hits but in the end changing the relationship between a company and its customers. Developing a conversation with customers that turn customers into evangelists for a company through revealing corporate action.

If GM had an image problem and its image was not reflecting reality as Mike suggests, then the GM Blog had a chance at changing the perceptions of customers about the brand. Many customers are impressed and supportive, but many were not, and the GM blog may actually have made things worse for some customers according to my interviews with several GM customers.

As I explained in my September post, General Motors has gained some great benefits from blogging, product development ideas from customers and some promotional benefits, however I think their effort still has more distance to travel.

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January 4, 2006

Stephen Turcotte Blogs Again!

Stephen Turcotte from Backbone Media, Inc. (my employer) starts blogging again and asks you to keep word of Backbone Media’s new blogging service under your hat.

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Microsoft Removes A Chinese Blogger

There’s been a lot of discussion about the issue of Microsoft pulling down the content and then blog of a Chinese blogger. According to Microsoft’s leading blogger, Robert Scoble, the company has to comply with its contracts. That might be true, but Robert you’re allowed to disagree with the company, and you did initially.

Either way you look at this Microsoft loses, it’s either a matter of Microsoft losing business in China, or getting bad PR and maybe losing some business in the US through the bad press. Microsoft may be merely complying with contracts, or they might be taking a gamble that they are more likely to lose business in China than the US.

Due to Robert Scoble’s second post, where he does not explain the exact reasons for his change in opinion, the company seems to be losing twice, once for pulling the blog in China and twice for Robert throwing cold water on his earlier statements without revealing more facts.

This is a lesson for bloggers that getting all of your facts straight before you post is important. Or does this go against the idea of speaking straight from the hip in blogging culture? I think that when you are working for a company and attempting to follow blogging policies its not unreasonable to check with internal sources initially. You can still post something that mentions you are researching and looking for facts, but don’t state your opinion right away. Or maybe that’s why we like Robert, he is not so careful, more human, he has definitely changed quite a few customer opinions about Microsoft.

Posted by johncass at 3:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 3, 2006

Newspapers Face Design Issues

Mark Cuban’s post about the type of content and length of articles in the post, “Newspapers, Stupidity and Shackleford,? raises an interesting angle on the issue of what newspapers should cover. I’ve written before on the issue of newspapers focusing their reporters on stories that are not covered by other traditional media outlets, “Community Journalism in the 21st century?, and providing more in depth coverage. Mark really makes the point by describing the stupidity (his opinion) of covering a basketball star, Charles Shackleford, in 50 words of coverage in a New York Times piece. Mark asks why that newsprint could not have been lent to other more worthy and in depth articles? Mark contrasts the role of online media and static newspapers, while online media papers lend themselves quick updates, newspapers are much more mobile and allow for more thoughtful coverage.

I think Mark is right and it all gets back to design, the design of websites and newspapers.

When there was no alternative or source of information, newspapers were the right place to print such articles, but today the online world is the place to publish quick updates. The culture has moved on and new uses for old medium present themselves as opportunities rather than threats.

Thanks to Naked Conversations

Posted by johncass at 5:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Marketing Leadership

Al Ries writes a great article, “the Googling of the marketing industry: and what we can learn from it,? on marketing and branding in an advertising age column this week. He uses Google as his main example to explore the two strategies of achieving market leadership. (a) Building a better product, and (b) being the first in category and maintaining that leadership by focusing on the product and category to beat off the competition. As a marketer who has worked for many companies that were not leaders in their industry. I see his point. You can develop the best product in the industry, but if the perception exists that your competitor is the market leader, so long as they keep their eye on the ball, they will typically maintain their market leadership. In order to beat such category winners, moving the goal posts or the category in which you compete can give a company more room to maneuver and develop leadership.

Is your company a market leader? Have you developed a new category? Or are you clients creating that new category? Tell me your story of market leadership.

Posted by johncass at 10:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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