Something I’ve noticed changing over the last two years is how companies perceive blogs. Early on in blogging, despite the success of many great blog networks at the time, companies seemed to think that blogs were really only a tool for average people to write about their lives, and the various minutia that occurred in them.
Blogs at this time were creating a whole community of both Internet celebrities and Internet brands that were parlayed into huge amounts of cash through advertising systems, and sales. Corporations started, very slowly realizing how important blogs could be to their businesses, but we are still on the cusp of this realization going global.
The reason corporations look down on blogs is for a variety of reasons stemming from the massive numbers of personal blogs, to the low barrier of entry.
For every successful blog making money, or helping get out a strong branding message, there are probably one thousand blogs dedicated to people around the world talking about their lives. From the perspective of the average company doing research on blogs, they’ll likely come across many blogs talking about their pets, family, friends, and children. This doesn’t convey to them the level of professionalism available in blogging, and thus gives them a reason to think of blogs with a negative connotation.
We have all seen them, spam blogs are the bane of my existence. They steal content, and they push out crud through the Internet. Companies doing research on any topic will come across at least one spam blog in their searches, and this type of republishing outside of the normal control of the original publisher might scare companies who want to remain in control of their message. Imagine posting an article on your blog and a spam blog picks it up before you realize you’ve made a mistake. You correct your mistake, but the spam blog continues to have the “old” article which makes your company look bad. Small, and simple for sure, but this has to be a concern for businesses going forward.
Power of the Message Versus Money Invested
How powerful is the message going to be compared to the time and effort put into the blog? Companies are used to press releases and the results that can be achieved from them, but what can they expect from their blog? How will it grow, change and evolve over time? Will anyone even care? Companies are always looking at return on investment, and there hasn’t been many case studies released to companies regarding the return on investment of a good corporate blog.
Low Barrier to Entry
If it is too easy, it probably doesn’t have value. I have heard both people and companies claiming that due to the low barrier of entry in blogging, there is little to no value in blogging. It takes almost no time to set up a blog, make it look nice, and start feeding it content. But what companies aren’t seeing is how long it took to get to this point with regard to the barrier for entry. There were companies creating blog software in hopes of lowering the barrier for entry for over a decade. The barrier started high, but these companies weren’t interested in the idea behind it back in those days.
Knowledge and Fear
Most companies just don’t understand enough about the blogosphere, and what it means to be a company participating in it. Because of their lack of knowledge, they are afraid of jumping in and making mistakes, not completely understanding that transparency is one of the key benefits of blogging that will help companies connect to potential customers on a new level of relationship.
Companies can get into blogging, and do amazing things with their blog, but they have to be brave enough to take the first steps, find people that can help them reach their goals in an efficient and inexpensive manner, and be ready to be transparent. Blogging can be an amazing line of communication and community building for any company.
This is one topic where I wish I had taken a psychology degree so that I could articulate better the factors that really go into each point, as I believe someone could make a whole career around the psychology of companies involvement or lack of involvement in the blogosphere.