Behind the Curtain
Since I started blogging for Zipingo back in July, I've been checking out other company blogs. It's been a learning experience for sure. I've seen a myriad of styles and content.
Some bloggers are long-winded (like me), while others prefer to be short and sweet. Still, if I didn't know any better, I'd say the burgeoning attempts of company bloggers to connect with customers is nothing more than a marketing/PR ploy. ("Well, duh!", you say?)
It hasn't always been that way. Once upon a time, folks blogged for the heck of it, personal satisfaction, artistic expression, etcetera etcetera. But these days, I see news stories, conferences, workshops and books on blog marketing, corporate blogging, the marketing of blogs, blog public relations and, not to be outdone, buzz marketing with blogs. Then there are the tons of profile articles on bloggers, as if bloggers were the new celebrities. And brunette is the new blonde. Hmmm. I guess in many ways, both of those statements are true.
Now if you're rather U.S.-centric, I thought I'd point out that the matter of corporate blogging is not just a U.S. phenomenon. Heck, there's even an Asian Blogging Seminar. Last month, New Zealand had its First International Blogging Conference. If you plan to be in Vienna in October, you might want to drop in at the BlogTalk Reloaded conference. Darn. Wish I could devise a Zipingo business reason to go there on the company dime. I love Austria and I love Sacher Torte. (sigh)
Lots of blogs on business blogging have emerged over the past half decade. There's a neat little resource on corporate blogging basics, so if you're reading this post hoping that I'd mention (and link to) one of those, you're in luck. For the corporate blogging-impaired and/or those seeking outside help, there's a company (or two or three or four) that provides consulting on the topic of business blogging.
So what's to be learned by all this Blogosphere business hubbub? And do I really think my stream-of-consciousness ramblings on the Zipingo Team Blog are going to entice anyone to visit often to review businesses on Zipingo? Probably not. I'm sure somebody out there is falling asleep just reading this....but I keep on writing anyway.
Now according to a 2005 study conducted by Backbone Media, "companies that employ a well thought out blogging strategy encourage the strongest community goodwill, and that goodwill, in turn, promotes significant marketing and sales gains." Immediately, General Motors came to mind. Okay, then. Currently, Intuit derives no sales from Zipingo. But a blogging strategy would be nice. I'll draft one as soon as I finish driving the redesign on Zipingo's help area. By the way...Dammit Jim. I'm a community developer, not a marketer. So it's zilch on the marketing part of that statement, too.
I gotta wonder...what's in it for me, besides blogging being part of my job description? From my viewpoint, blogging is part ego, part social interaction. Truth be told (I love that saying), bloggers like me just enjoy connecting with people in general. Corporate Web sites can be so cold and lifeless sometimes. I mean, to the average user, there's little in the coding and copy of a site that reveals much about the real humans behind it anyway. Before business blogs, the only way a Web user could get to talk to the man (or woman) behind the curtain was to send an email and hope for a response.
Basically, what I'm saying is this: I like the creativity and freedom that corporate blogging provides. It's a far cry from having to sprint hurdles to get a news release or high-tech brochure signed off. I'm free to make a few points, make a few connections, and share my growing knowledge. And if I thought no one would ever read this post, I'd still derive self-satisfaction out of having written it at least.
But I'm not writing totally in a vaccuum. I do want to trade insights. So if you're reading this blog and you have something to share, especially if you're a corporate blogger, feel free to comment. It's like Birds of a Feather, you know? Oh, sure. Sometimes we feel like the stand-up comedian who taps the microphone and says, "I know you're out there. I can hear you breathing." Just so you know, I do check out the stats on the blog to verify that people are stopping by and reading more than one post. Yep, there's that ego thing.
Anyway, from a research perspective, I'd love to hear what corporate bloggers think about corporate blogging in general. Is it here to stay? How do you see it evolving over the next five years? And what about audio blogging, mobile blogging and photo blogging? How do they factor into your company blog plans? Let me know. I'm listening.
Gotta go. It's the last Friday of the month. I hear there's a chicken wing at the company Wing Ding with my name on it and I am starving. Take care...
~ Zipingo Kim