Exclusive Interview: Bryan Rhoads, Intel’s Internet Strategist on Business Blogging

Web Strategy at Intel
Intel, a Client of PodTech, has given me exclusive access to the teams that are using social media to connect with customers. I’ve recently presented at Intel, and know that nearly everyone in their marketing department is getting behind this. One example is the corporate blogs that they’ve deployed, contests that let customers design products, and even communicating on Twitter by Intel blogger Josh Bancroft, they are a case study of a company that’s opening up, letting to, to gain more.

[start interview]

Jeremiah: Bryan, It’s my pleasure to learn about the hard work you’ve done to really open Intel up to customers, and build a community using blogs and social media. Being a key part of this team, tell me about your role and how long you’ve been at Intel?

Bryan: I’m a Sr. Internet Strategist within Intel’s Web Marketing Group. I’ve been at Intel for a total of 10 years that includes a stint in the mid-90’s where I was on the initial Web Apps team for intel.com, ran our first 2-D virtual world in 1997 around the “The Palace” software, operated early message boards, etc… One of my responsibilities now involves social and new media strategy.


Jeremiah: Tell me about the Social Media programs you’re working on at Intel (Bryan, please talk about the blogs, and leave URLs, maybe share some history of the first blog).

Bryan: We just launched Blogs@intel found at http://blogs.intel.com. Our goal has been to create a unique stage and platform for Intel and our employees to communicate/dialogue directly w/ a tech hungry audience. We want to contribute our insight and expertise to the entire technology meme found on today’s Blogosphere… i.e. participate and engage on a whole host of technology topics and offerings.

Jeremiah: But why Blog? I mean, what’s broken, what are you trying to fix?

Bryan: Blogs provide color commentary on our products and technologies… traditional web site offerings are great resources for product specs, speeds, feeds and support information. Blogs offer personal thoughts and a vehicle which allows for personal insights and customer feedback. It augments traditional web offerings and tries to actively engage our audiences in technology 1)conversations.

Jeremiah: Having deployed a Social Media program myself, I know the challenges within large organizations. What are some of the challenges that you’ve had, and how have you turned them into champions and successes?

Bryan: Ensuring that you have Legal, PR and trademarks/branding on board… and all the other stakeholders. We’ve simply had a solid risk assessment on the medium itself, i.e. disclaimers needed, the potential issues w/ XML syndication, etc. Its due diligence.


Jeremiah: Many corporations want to have a level of control, and even employees who blog are scared to voice their opinion, do you have an Blog Policy? What’s the publishing process like for the Intel Blogs, and who’s involved? Who is allowed to blog and how are they selected?

Bryan: We do have a policy for employees that is essentially an extension of our long standing communications policy. Its very much inline with former electronic communications policies, but updated to accommodate the medium and new technologies.

I’ll answer the second part of that question in the next answer below…


Jeremiah: What tools are you using for your blogs to publish, what tools are you using to listen to the blogosphere?

Bryan: Intel’s blog platform is quite possibly the most sophisticated corporate blog platform to date based on MovableType Enterprise. We’ve built a business communications tool that stays true to the medium by allowing bloggers direct access and control of each blog and post. There is no “content workflow” through PR, Marketing or Legal… it’s the blogger communicating directly w/ his or her audience. Unfiltered and straight from the blogger’s keyboard to the live blog.

As far as keeping track of success… the standard tools like Technorati, Google Blog search, web metrics, etc, are used to keep a proper pulse on our blog conversations.

Jeremiah: Undertaking a project isn’t just about technical tools, but really a change of mindset and sometimes corporate culture. Tell me Bryan, what are the top three things you’ve learned throughout this amazing experience.

Bryan:

1) Stay true to the medium… We set out to build the best corporate blog on the planet and I think we’ve come close. Not only build a proper platform, but create a business and publishing process that allows for effective blog communications.

2) Get out and participate… Blogs are not cul-de-sacs unto themselves. Our strategy very much involves participation beyond blogs.intel.com. Our goal is to contribute to technology discussions across the Blogosphere and share our unique insight into computing.

3) Blogs are only another communications tool. As a marketer, you need to ensure that they integrate properly with existing vehicles in order to maximize the benefit to your audience, bloggers and communications goals.

[end interview]

Stay tuned for other interviews, both video, and in text from today’s corporate marketers who are connecting with customers using social media.