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Is corporate blogging an oxymoron?

A few folks, after reading yesterday’s post on the Blog Council, thought I was being too hard on them for not accepting comments on their own blog. But that wasn’t the prevailing sentiment. More people felt that I was expecting way too much—corporate types don’t know how to blog and never will, and setting up a council with a fancy logo won’t change any of that. While I understand the skepticism behind that opinion, I don’t agree.

Sure, it can be harder for a corporation to tolerate blogging’s free exchange of ideas than it is for a solo blogger. And yes, far too many corporations have had rocky starts in the blogosphere. I know that Wal-Mart, Sony, and others have been caught creating “flogs” that purported to be from customers that instead were written by their ad agency. I’m aware that Dell began its blogging life with a happy-talk item about the tenth anniversary of its Web site, only to be pummeled by bloggers demanding better customer service. You can look elsewhere to be regaled by the tales (or maybe “galed” by them if you haven’t heard them before).
I won’t even argue that these stories are the exception, rather than the rule, when it comes to corporate blogging. I won’t tell you that most corporations have jumped into blogging with both feet, as the PR team and the lawyers lock arms in a jaunty dance down the road of marketing openness.
But I can cite examples of corporate blogging that is working. My company, IBM, has thousands of bloggers, as does Sun, Microsoft, and many other large companies. They help our customers understand technology directions, industry goings-on, and strategic issues. Robert Scoble, while he worked at Microsoft, helped humanize a firm that the mainstream media only demonized. Sun’s and IBM’s blogger have likewise been a huge advantage to their respective marketing programs.
Many other companies use blogs to connect better with their customers through blogs. Blogs that are written by living breathing employees, not the PR department.
I know that’s still news. I understand that successful companies using blogs are still relatively small among all companies. But the fact that they exist at all means we can strive for that level of success for many more companies. Corporations are not all the same, so it’s ridiculous to expect that blogging will work for all of them.
But it’s equally ridiculous to lampoon the Blog Council because all corporations are clueless types who couldn’t blog if their lives depended on it. Corporations can blog. And some corporations’ lives probably do depend on it. If corporations don’t learn to connect better with their customers (regardless of whether they use blogs or other means), they are apt to be left behind by smaller companies that do connect.


Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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