Still having to justify Business Blogging in Corporate America

Many Marketers
I’m very fortunate to be able to talk to many of the wonderful Corporate Marketers all over Silicon Valley (our client list) and beyond, and business blogging and social media still requires some justification or some ROI to higher ups. Shel Israel is right, much of the blogging will happen at the edges of the company, built up by grassroots efforts. Corporate Marketers tend to figure this out really early, or really late, many often don’t realize that their own employees are already blogging. (and I’ve shown them using Technorati)

Charlene Li has an interesting report that helps to define the ROI of Business blogging
, she lists out quite a few variables to measure, but I promise you, that’s only a partial listing. Some additional examples could be reduced support costs, increased hiring opportunities, measurable brand influences, decrease in Marketing Collateral, and the time saved by a blogger that is now able to email the world, rather than small groups.

The dreaded Success/ROI question
Today, one Analyst Relations Marketing manager asked me about the Gartner report that says Blogging is slowing down. My response? Do you have kids? If so, how do they communicate? The next generation doesn’t read the newspaper, the TV is ambient, and they only use email when they have to. Please don’t forget that MySpace and Facebook have blogging features, and that’s just North America. That lead into an interesting discussion, and I think he sees the value. Recently, I heard that Gartner has silenced unsanctioned blogs, which makes sense given they sell intellectual property, are you surprised they would issued such a report? Funny how Charlene and Forrester embrace blogging.

By the way, for most of the clients that I talk to (well they are more sophisticated than that credit union in the mid west) they understand the importance of these tools, rarely do they push back, they just need to understand.

Today I was asked “How to you measure success of Social Media Programs” from a Sr Marcom manager. I told her I have two answers:

1) How do you measure the success of a conversation between your sales rep and a prospect in the early stages of a relationship? How do you measure the success of all your other marketing and branding activities, the formula would be the same. That’s a very silly answer to her question, here’s the practical answer

2) I recommend measuring the success of a Social Media program depending on the objectives, there is no cookie cutter way to measure success, it depends on the goals of the program, whether it be thought leadership, buzz, reaching to customers, managing crises, customer outreaches, etc.

I’m patient
Blogging has yet to normalize, so we’ll continue to have to justify something until ‘publish to all’ is a feature of Microsoft Outlook and other email tools, give it a few years.

(Update: The Normalization of blogging is a phrase I’ve been using quite frequently, I want to credit Blog Business Guru Shel Israel for first imprinting how it will flatten.)

  • Hi Jeremiah,

    I don’t think any person would dispute the value of blogging in many cases and industries (as always, I don’t think blogging is appropriate for every industry/product/service).A key question: What happens when/if everyone is blogging? Does that reduce the value of blogging?

    Other things:
    If 55 million people are blogging, a large percentage of which that probably don’t do so on a daily basis, would still leave about 5.5+ billion people that don’t blog at all…much less have regular internet access.

    I think blogging is obviously very important in “westernized & capitalistic” societies. But I also think that blogging has a long way to go in many, many circumstances & I think that the blogosphere community, including me, do need to look at these numbers & ROI with a more realistic attitidue about overall influence on a global scale.

    My good thoughts on blogging (just so you don’t think I am being negative):
    1. It can reduce support costs.
    2. It can help engage your most loyal customers & provide a place for fans to be.
    3. It provides an awesome platform for feedback.

  • For me it always comes down to one thing: “Argument is the road to knowledge.” For that reason alone all businesses should at least CONSIDER blogging as an option.

    (By the way, I thought that statement was by Sophocles. But now I can’t find it. Anyone recognize it?)

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  • Hi Curt,

    Are we going to have to argue;-)? Just kidding.

    I obviously see the benefits for a lot of people & companies. I just would just, errr, argue that it isn’t going to work for all companies. Consider? Yes.

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  • Damon’s right.

    Many companies that I meet have internal discussions about blogging. Most start a trial program, and dip their toes.

    Very few that I know are asked to quantify business blogging before starting.

  • I believe the reason we don’t have enough corporate success stories for blogs is most companies with a blog initiative have no point to the blog but having one.

    Once small companies start showing off their chops in blogging, larger companies will catch on.

    For example, in the last year, I have three newspaper articles, four magazine quotes, three speaking appearances, and two websites with a GooglePageRank of 5, and my company has only two people.

    I also have over 1000 incoming links to my various blogs.

    For companies that are larger who struggle to get into the press and pay for weaker SEO results, rather than asking what are the effects of blogging, shouldn’t they be measuring the effectiveness of their PR and SEO initiatives?

  • Jim

    I wonder if some individual bloggers may think they indeed are small companies, and could testify to their success.

  • Hi Jeremiah,

    “Many companies that I meet have internal discussions about blogging. Most start a trial program, and dip their toes.”

    And my guess is that they stop if they don’t see relatively immediate returns. As I’ve found on a personal level, you have to really be involved daily for it to get any real traction.

    As Jim mentioned, the SEO benefits can be very beneficial & I think that’s a reason why a lot of folks do it today.

  • Jeremiah,

    We were one of the companies that dipped our toe in the blog pool over a year ago. After several months, we went much deeper into the water, and have used the blog as an integral communication tool with our customers and prospects ever since.

    In fact, we’ve found it to be the most responsive tool to get honest feedback from our customers, which is invaluable to us. In addition to the feedback, and the subsequent process improvements that resulted, we’ve been able to directly measure our ROI from our utilization of the blog.

    A few months ago I wrote an overview of our approach for iMedia at http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/11894.asp

    Curious to hear your comments.

  • Great post Sean. Thanks for sharing this case study of success.

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