Is Corporate Blogging REALLY The Next Big Thing?

It was about a month ago that I stumbled upon a book entitled “Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers”. I had heard of blogs about a year ago but thought it was very much the preoccupation of people who were bored with life or people who were lonely and needed to talk to someone and it didn’t matter who. So reading the book really made me excited about finding what seems like the next big thing in knowledge management.

I was even more excited when I heard that the guest speaker at the iKMS talk I was about to attend, a Professor Peter Keen, was going to do a presentation on knowledge mobilization, with corporate blogging as a key theme. (Picture the pride on my face when I pulled out the book the moment he mentioned it!)

I vaguely recall that Scoble and Israel said in one of the chapters of the book that in the same way that the Internet was ignored and almost dismissed in the early 90s but had gone on to be so powerful an influence on people’s lives, corporate blogging would be looked back on years from now and people would realize that it had been more powerful than was earlier envisioned.

My excitement has diminished somewhat over this last week though as I begin to wonder if organizations are just going to fulfill this prophecy by starting to blog. Oops, we have too! But really, my question is will it happen because it is right thing for businesses to do or because every one else will be doing it. Would everyone be jumping on the bandwagon for fear of missing the boat and being left behind? Every one influences every other one and there we have it – corporate blogging is indeed the next big thing – a self-fulfilling prophecy!

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I must admit that when we were conceptualising our 2nd generation website, we included a blog because “everyone’s doing it”. But if we’re doing something for the sake of doing it, the burden of sustaining it will soon be felt. So far, however, i find blogging rather cathartic. But I wonder how many organisations are prepared to offer this form of catharsis to their employees? How much honesty must they have, to lay themselves bare in public? How much earnestness must they have, to want to deal with the intractable issues that will most cetainly arise? If they’re neither prepared to be honest nor to deal with what could potentially be a can of worms, then it’d be better for them not to jump on the bandwagon at all.

Posted on April 21, 2006 at 05:07 PM | Comment permalink

I need to set the record straight here about the book “The Naked Conversations”.  Thanks to my colleague, Patrick, who made me realise that from my blog post, it seemed like I did not think much of the book by Scoble and Israel. 

Far from the truth, I found the book down to earth and a really easy read.  What I liked about it were the views from the inside with regards to personal blogging at Microsoft and the management sentiments surrounding blogging about Microsoft (will leave you to find out what these are from the book). 

What I found most useful though was the practical advice about good blogging and how to avoid getting “hammered”.

A lot of the material though is about blogs of individuals in business and not so much on the corporate blogs themselves.  Still, as an appetizer, it has satisfied me, and I look forward to the main course which I hope will be served up soon.

Posted on April 24, 2006 at 07:14 PM | Comment permalink


Paolina, I have experienced the same doubt concerning corporate blogs.  As a former communicator, I believe some structure and filtering of communication is called for, even if you ignore the desire to control corporate messages.  Otherwise it is just more noise and will be more of a minus than a plus for the organization.

Nearly three years ago, I initiated a test of a blogging tool in a large company, but limited the application to competitive intelligence.  We invited only the people in the organization who received or used competitive intelligence to participate and to use the commenting features.  They supported it vigorously in principal--but it had only limited success.  Truthfully, I considered it a failure, and it wasn’t even real blogging.  They were merely using a blogging tool to interact with information, but they did not have their own personal blogs. 

Releasing personal blogs on the entire organization would have just created a mess...most of the people were not used to interacting and commenting online, and most felt like they already have too much to read to go exploring the company blogosphere.  And some would have found it an excuse to spend time away from what they should actually have been working on.  I know a lot of KM practitioners are excited about blogs and wikis and such, but I just don’t see it working.  There are too many organizational issues around them (privacy, control, guidelines and standards, ownership of content, etc.).  Most organizations rightly will see them as a lot of extra work for very little, if any, additional value and a lot of potential matter how inexpensive the software is.

Posted on April 25, 2006 at 12:19 PM | Comment permalink

Good insights Kaye and thanks.

I think that successful corporate blogging requires a certain level of maturity of the organisation and of the individual who is blogging. 

In an organisation where there is a good amount of trust and consequently, empowerment, blogging need not have to be so closely guided and monitored. I dare say that ours, thankfully, fall into that breed.

However, if the organisation, as you put it Kaye, requires that there be guidelines, standards and controls for blogging, the blogs could end up becoming so sanitized, they lose their original intended value of representing authentic thought.

On your experience of staff not wanting to post comments online into internal corporate systems, I had seen the same behaviours (or should I say non-behaviours)in an organisation I know. The few online comments that were contributed were about spelling errors in posted documents or formatting recommendations. It was not that they had no comments on the content because these comments were later provided at meetings and other discussion forums. I guess the staff preferred to share their views verbally.

I guess there could also be the issue of staff being able to or even being conscious about expressing themselves coherently in the written word. People have varying degrees of comfort with written expression.

Posted on April 25, 2006 at 08:06 PM | Comment permalink

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