Decentralize Corporate Blog

With more and more corporate resorting to Official Blogs, its time to wear thinking hats and plan before taking a plunge in these Web2.0 technologies. Blogs, wikis, and other collaborative technologies need a robust launch and execution plan. These require Investment and commitment.

So do we need a Corporate Blog which is (a) completely moderated (b) promotional (c) monologue of thought leadership?

And the obvious answer is “No”!

We live in an age where Knowledge defines the company and the employees. Collective intelligence and content collaboration act as Decision Support Systems and thus, the control or console need to be decentralized.

According to a recent Harris Interactive poll of Fortune 1000 executives:

  • 77% say they should have corporate policies that address company-sanctioned blogs.
  • 40% say they should have corporate policies regarding blogs unrelated to the company or its activities.
  • 15% say someone in the company is currently writing a blog.
  • 12% say they have taken legal action in response to a blog.

Blogs can act as a tool to enhance the organization’s competitive advantage rather than a marcom device that is fully managed and controlled. Many companies have a policy of “internal” or “insider” blogs.

Most of these blogs are published by employees and are insightful and reflect the feelings of range of employees. Allow these to be Public Blogs.

Give the employees control to write and publish under company umbrella blog. These would help humanize the firm more efficiently and more effectively than public relations practitioners can do officially.

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Role of “Brand Experience” in B2B marketing

With new technologies (web2.0 as we call them collectively), the focus has amplified on “Brand experience”.

This might be a newer phenomenon for B2C companies, but for B2B companies, this existed even before new technologies had surfaced. Infact web2.0 is rightly said to be a socially driven phenomenon, facilitated by technology.

B2B saw Brand experience in forms of Events, trade exhibitions, seminars, round table conferences, breakfast meetings etc. So the concept remains the same – engage and interact with the client and prospect to increase favourability.

However, with the new generation which demands more “control” and “interaction” than ever before, traditional branding activities to build brands might not suffice for long.

Need for the hour is “Brand Participation” which goes a step ahead. It’s not only about providing a brand experience, but enabling the audience in participating with the brand and being its stakeholders. This allows them to have an emotional connect with the brand, something that helps brand truly differentiate itself from others.

So are Blogs and user forums the only way for audience participation? In B2B scenario, there are many more things which can be done besides these.

Microsoft, Cisco, Shell, to name a few have done this in a good way. Yes, the way is to associate the brand with an Issue/idea and pass the power to comment/write/educate/discuss to the audience. When they interact closely with the issue or idea, in some way they interact with the brand. The Idea is to make audience evangelists of the issue and grow from Brand engagement to Brand interaction and to Brand participation!

MySpace..Facebook..Yahoo360….. Signs of Social network fatigue?

Imagine a scenario where people would be using “aggregators” to know about updates and latest happening/posts in “social networks”. With mushrooming online communities and networks, it’s becoming difficult for individuals to keep track of them.

We might see new kind of mashups which would combine favourites/ selected genres and personal profiles across various social networking sites.. depending on whether social networking sites would agree to such collaboration and syndication.

Advertising on Blogs – Should we: should we not!

Many organizations are doing study on the effectiveness of advertising on UGC. I was going through a study done by blue Lithum Labs and ITToolbox.

The most important question that comes to mind while planning on such UGC sites (Social networking and user generated content sites) is how ethical it is to put “sponsored” content on sites which are meant to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.

I faced the same challenges while planning the campaign on blogs and other social networking sites for the first time.

Campaign performance (gauge by visits of companies on my website by clicking on the banner/link.) on publisher content sites was higher than on UGC. Though in money terms, lower cost of UGC media scored over publisher content site resulting in lower cost per visit.

To my mind, both the channels are imp – content sites for generating more visits from relevant target audience (depending on who they are; for me this works! J) and Blogs and networking sites for not just visits, but “word of mouth” and “buzz” about newer concepts.

Alone in “public place” with “personal network”

I was reading an interesting article in Forbes – “Can you hear me now” by Sherry Turkle. I was quite moved with the way article went about saying how people have now started sticking to their personal network so much that they have lost the art and enthusiasm of meeting in person.

What the article missed talking about was the opportunity provided by these networks to “meet” , “form friends” and “grow” – both in intellectual and personal space.

With every new technology, there are both benefits and flaws. I agree that life without cellphone/internet/blackberry seems dead, and yes with so much of exposure and media availability, contemporary world has a spilt and reduced attention span.

This brings a challenge and opportunity. Challenge to manage time, to give quality time to things which are important, automate things which are mundane/routine and find time to “think and do what is important” and “urgent”. Opportunity to know much much more in same time, to become faster in grasping things and super than super computer!

“Network effect is expanding the collective intelligence of the human race” (Its All in your Head by Robert M. Metcalfe)

I feel with more media, there is an opportunity of viewing/hearing/watching/reading/creating more information and challenge of choosing and segregate relevant piece from junk.

These are teething problems and this would invariably help us all Evolve, become smarter and most important to remain “connected” with information and world!

Social Media driving Business concepts

I came across Alain Thys’s post on Social Media – Social Media Participation is Not Optional for Brands (http://www.mpdailyfix.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/8149)

Am sure very few people would disagree with this since we do not have a choice, but to agree! have seen the way it impacts product reviews; creates or tarnishes brand image and more importantly helps in giving business concept a much needed critical mass.

Take a look at – People Ready Business from Microsoft, Human Network from Cisco and Search for Better Search from Hakia. The approach is interesting and involving!

Sramana Mitra says : Web 3.0 = (4C + P + VS)

Interesting! Formulas are always.. but this one in particular!

Web 3.0 = (Content, Commerce, Community , Context +Personalization +Vertical Search)

But is this not what web2.0 was also suppose to be? Read/Write is good.. but am sure personalization and vertical search (or if i may say content search in right context) is something that should have been taken for granted!

Having said that, i liked the way she created this wonderful formula… of yes success!! 🙂

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