sxsw: 3.11.08 Future of Corporate Blogs
Bottom line words: corporate blogging, ROI, measurement, community, influence to change a company
Moderator Mack Collier is a social media consultant, and author of The Viral Garden, a blog focusing on marketing and social media. Known for his 'community-first' approach to blogging and social media, Mack focuses on teaching companies how they can use social media to excite and engage their customers.
Panelist Mario Sundar works for LinkedIn and is Community Evangelist with over 5 years experience in the high-tech industry developing marketing initiatives for Fortune 50 brands including Intel, Hitachi and Sun Microsystems. Currently, defining and implementing the social media and community strategy at LinkedIn.
Panelist Lionel Menchaca from Dell the digital media manager for Dell's corporate blog, Direct2Dell.
Panelist Kami Watson Huyse, APR, principal of My PR Pro, writes the blog, Communication Overtones, on the topic of public relations and social media strategy. Her ideas and work are featured in several books about social media including The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and Now is Gone. She is also a contributor to the PRSA Byline blogs.
The panel is looking at what it takes to be the most relevant and engaging corporate blogs in business. Are corporate blogs relevant is the next question.
Will the future see more corporations enter the blogosphere, or less?
What fears and misconceptions do companies have about blogging and are these fears justified?
The panel is discussing ways a blog can augment a corporation's marketing efforts and improve customer service.
More importantly now, what tool(s), if any, will replace blogging?
The panel discusses tracking and measure their blogging efforts, going beyond just tracking hits and visitors, to developing criteria to measure the true Return on Investment (ROI) for blogging.
Okay – Dell must have had major problems that its blogging somehow turned around because Lionel is he second person from Dell to say this.
LinkedIn’s Mario talks about being the community evangelist – knowing what consumers are thinking and representing them to his company. He works on the LinkedIn social media strategy. When you start a blog – are you ready and is it worth it. Comments allow real conversation and LinkedIn decided to do this. Corporate blogs still mixed on comments. Traffic at LinkedIn is growing and the blogging is sup
Kami says solving a communication problem is your first test. Where is your community you are you trying to reach? Are they reading blogs, are they on Facebook. It is about the community not the company and their interests – so find the way that they intersect. Blog, Facebook or Twitter how can you measure this – the relationships. What would be considered a success. What is competition doing, so benchmarking. What about tonality in the messaging how is that going. Engagement can be measured. Analytic tools are valuable. You can look at comments and number of posts on a blog. You can look at “sales”. What about surveys – the old fashioned measurement.
6 measures for relationship: go to delicious – Kami chat on sxsw to learn more on this.
Ask if you are trending in the right direction, are your relationships working? What about an online focus group? So be creative to see what your community wants.
Listening, analyzing, and then taking action are the three that Lionel uses. Monitoring the blogosphere is important. He uses Ideastorm to determine reaction to ideas at Dell. The core team looks at user ideas and they are vetted through the business channels at Dell. Dell also uses the blog to say it is working on the customer’s behalf – no buffer to tell customers directly what you are doing. The relationship grows with this new one-on-one – and you send up with loyalty from these customers.
So, all this discussion points the need for a social media team if you are going to invite this kind of relationship. The momentum gets going and changes the skeptics that think a negative comment cannot change things for the better.
Transparency – this is the future.
One small step by Emory Healthcare is to start a Care Pages [powered by Steve Case’s Revolution Heallth] relationship for its customers, but this does not engage our organization with our customers directly, it puts them closer together with family and friends and finding each other via a web page.
Now with easy ways to develop communications with a group like Twitter, how soon will this type of technology replace web site-based communications. For now, this is what the majority of healthcare seekers can understand and use, but as technology changes and younger users embrace its many advantages, an organization needs to be ready for this.
From Kami’s blog Communications Overtones http://overtonecomm.blogspot.com/:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Blogs
Effectively communicating ideas and building relationships takes some discipline. I have always liked Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The principles make sense and are applicable both in your personal and professional life.
A blog is a highly personal refection of the people and/or companies writing it. These principles can be perfectly applied to blogging and other two-way communications.
1. Develop content based on principles and values. While a blog cannot deliver “key messages” in a canned and contrite manner (this isn’t a soundbite medium), it can be written from the values and principles of its writer or company. Knowing these values for yourself is the key to developing a “voice” for your communication. For example, I value honesty, building meaningful relationships, learning new things, and fun.
2. Have a vision or purpose statement. Part of my personal mission statement includes these action items that I developed in under four minutes at the Covey Website:
0. I will always seek to improve the depth and quality of my relationships in my personal and professional life
0. I will never be afraid to stand up for what I believe is right
0. I will be committed to lifelong learning and self improvement
0. I will seek to treat others as I would wish to be treated
0. I will not take myself too seriously and will have a life filled with laughter and fun
You can see how the values I have in #1 expand to become my action items. My mission statement, which could be lived out through my action items is to: “Explore how public relations can find an authentic voice in today's social media.”
3. Prioritize. Be sure to put first-things-first and don’t be driven by the agenda of forces around you. I notice that when I apply this principle regularly across-the-board I don’t have as much trouble with balance. My goal is to get one post out each weekday to “feed” my blog and extend the relationship with my readers. If I get that done, I don’t feel bad about turning my back on the blog for a few hours to get work done, spend time with my family, etc.
4. Think win-win. Blogs and other social media are meant to be a two-way conversation and that conversation often includes vehement disagreement. However, thinking win-win requires that we disagree with ideas and not the people that generated them. This helps to facilitate the discussion about the idea and possible come up with a solution that is better than the ideas of one person alone (see habit 6). This is the “magic” of social media.
5. Seek first to understand…then to be understood. This principle is best lived out in the comments section. Many blogs have the best discussions in the comments section include a back and forth between blog author and visitors that refines understanding of the idea. This is likely because the blog author seeks to understand the comments about his or her idea and incorporate them in the final.
6. Synergize. By building a community of respect, problems can be solved in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. The refining of an idea by many can lead to the “magic” of social communication where 1+1=3.
7. Renew yourself. You don’t have much to offer if all you do is sit in front of a computer. We all need to renew in the areas of physical health, social networks, spiritual renewal and mental improvement. When you do this you have something new and interesting to bring to the conversation.