Monday, May 14, 2007

Company Blogs: Deal or No Deal?

Many companies have remained on the sidelines of the blogosphere, afraid of the unknown and holding to the belief that they can remain in control of their company and brand. Only about 8 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have an active company-sanctioned blog. The companies that do blog understand that by actively participating in web-conversations they can better understand the motivations of their customers. In doing so, they are not only better able to serve their customers, but can build deeper and stronger relationships with them.

Check out some of these company blogs:

GM FastLane Blog
While GM may not be doing so well in the U.S. automobile market, they have embraced blogging, both internally and externally. Their site is updated weekly by GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz who has extensive knowledge of the automobile industry. A recent post focused on Troy Clarke, GM North American President, and his trip to the New York Auto Show. The posting said, Clarke “met with a group of bloggers at this month’s New York Auto Show to discuss the latest offerings from Chevrolet, including the new “triplet” vehicles.” And guess what?! Not only did Clarke interview with a group of New York Auto Show bloggers, but this interview was immediately posted on YouTube by GM, revealing that GM is well aware of the power of both of these forms of social media in influencing consumer behavior. This goes to show that despite their hardships, GM is trying to get on the inside track by embracing both blogging as an important form of corporate communications and bloggers as thought leaders in the automobile marketplace.

In response to negative backlash stemming from Dell Hell (created by blogger Jeff Jarvis), Dell has launched a souped-up customer service blog titled Direct2Dell. Direct2Dell has nearly 20 categories for bloggers to read and comment about. As an owner of Dell Laptops over the years, one of us has personally experienced some poor customer service as of late and maybe should have mentioned the dangerous four letter word (B-L-O-G) during the worst of it. The fear that this word stirs up in the heart of companies says a lot about the effectiveness of blogs as an influential social medium.

Fred Flare
Quirky retailer Fred Flare has recently launched a blog which is an interesting mix of products from the site, employees’ summer plans, YouTube clips and celebrity photo-gossip. The great thing is that the site publishes celebrity pics of the latest drama queen wearing or toting something that can be bought from Fred Flare. By bringing this to the attention of consumers through the form of a blog, Fred Flare hopes to generate a buzz around the product(s) being worn by celebrities to push sales. As a result, not only do consumers get their daily crazy-Britney fill with the blog, but they can even buy the very t-shirt the paparazzi caught her in.

Until Next Time…..
A common feature that every corporate blog should include is an RSS feed (really simple syndication). A common mistake that companies make is thinking that their blogs are so important that people will routinely visit them. But in reality, corporations will reach far more people by offering them the ability to "subscribe" to their sites using an RSS feed. Sorry companies - but we’re graduate students and we barely have enough time to write this blog, yet alone visit your site on a daily basis. Put up a RSS Feed!


Anonymous said...

I love fredflare and their new blog is a cool way to mix the rest of the web with their site!

maverick9465 said...

I like what you said about blogs being tool to help build relationships with customers. I would also add that blogs can be a useful way for company executives to generate feedback from employees. Troy Clarke, president of General Motors North America, uses an internal blog to communicate with employees. He gets about 40-50 comments on each post he publishes.

Anonymous said...

Bloggin' Ain't Easy? You guys seem like you were born to blog.

The corporate blogs are a good topic. As far as internal blogs go, be careful what you say. There are lots of instances of employees speaking their mind (usually on personal blogs) that leads to trouble with the bosses.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for your comment and actually we will talk about the troubles and problems that a blog may bring to the company in our next entry. Please keep an eye out for our updates. Thanks! - CMO