Call it noise, call it the next big thing, or just call it stupid. Define it how ever you want. Blogging has become a huge thing in today's world. It has changed my daily routine. It has changed how I look for help with my work. It opened up a whole new world of people to meet, learn from, and be annoyed at.
I love blogs. As a developer, I love the idea that I have this whole new resource of information that gives me a personalized look at the industry, a personal hands-on view of new technologies, see code and tips from developers just like me, and I even enjoy some of the insight into the lives of other developers. I think it is great. It has become a part of my daily routine. I take a look at RSS Bandit even before I look at Outlook on many mornings.
For me there is value in blogging. There is value in having a presence on the web, whether personal or professional. For me, there is nothing that gives me more confidence in a company I look to for services or training than to see the knowledge of its employees via their blogs. Knowledgeable employees will win a deal from me any time. However, I won't see what kind of knowledge they have if they are not blogging. I was asked by blog reader Jiho Han about how an employer might not allow their employees to blog due to risk of the employee misrepresenting the company or giving away too much “free” information to their competitors. The question usually stems from management articles such as this one which outline risks a company runs by allowing their employees to blog as corporate bloggers. The article raises issues around the legal liabilities, potential libel, issues of statements of opinion vs. statements of fact, disclosure of trade secrets, and careless statements that could be used during litigation. With all the risk, why would a company let its employees blog? Sure there are risks with blogging, just as there might be issues with an employee that shoots his/her mouth off with clients or something similar. For me, it comes down to this:
- Hire knowledgeable employees.
- Trust that your employees know what they are doing and know what they are talking about (If you can't then go back to #1)
- Realize that the knowledge and expertise shared by your employees will win you business, not loose it (If it doesn't then go back to #1)
You cannot afford to not have your employees blogging. Think about it, if you are faced with a choice between two competing vendors. Everything matches up between the two across the board as far as price, services offered, value added, etc. However, one of these vendors has corporate blogs. You can see the obvious knowledge and expertise by the employees' blogs. Who are you going to choose? But it really goes beyond this as far as corporate blogging goes. Corporate blogging gives you the opportunity to communicate with your customers and potential customers in an entirely new way. Remove all the marketing hype and communicate directly with them. Move them closer to you without brochures and press releases. You will establish your company or yourself as a voice of authority and expertise in your industry and your customers will be there to witness it first hand.
Not convinced? Take a look at Darren Barefoot who has placed himself on auction on eBay as a corporate blogger for rent. He even has a bid for $500 USD for 3 months of blogging with a minimum of 5 posts a week. How about Jeremy Wright who started the “Rent a Blogger” idea on eBay who's current auction, which started at $100 USD has climbed to $1,600 USD for the same volume of posts. While I am not sure I agree 100% with renting a blogger for your company, I do however see the value in having a blogging presence on the web to represent yourself or company. If it takes renting one, especially one as prominent and knowledgeable as Jeremy Wright, whose technical blog is said to have over 60,000 readers per month, then so be it. But while you'll have an impressive blogging presence you will still lack the internal resources to deliver according to the knowledge shown by your corporate blog.
Blogging has become so strong that the word “blog” made Merriam-Webster's Top 10 Words of the Year list. Blogging is said to have had a huge impact on this years US Presidential Election. Many Americans turned to blogs to for information about candidates to avoid the traditional spin in print or news sources. I'm not sure that is such a good thing. But really, shouldn't the opinion of the masses have some weight? We can hardly call the national news impartial these days.
Blog may be a stupid sounding word (especially when morphed into other related words such as blogosphere) but it has become an important one and it is here to stay. I'll take it just as it is.