In a post a couple months back, I gave a very brief introduction to blogs, now I just want to create a bit of discussion about what blogging and micro-blogging is and how they can be used for business purposes.
BLOG is a blend of the term web log, they allow an individual or a group of people to create posts on a website for any purpose that they wish to achieve. These posts often consist of a mix of text, images and video.
People that use blogs for personal use usually use them to write about and share their thoughts, view and opinions on topics that are important to them, or activities and events that interest them. Businesses also use blogs to share news, create awareness of their presence in the market, provide help on products, engage with customers.. and the list goes on! For today, I just want to talk about the business side of blogs.
Over the last few years, blogs have become increasingly popular, particularly within the business world. Many companies, large and small, use blogs for their business services. Here’s a short list of companies “that really get corporate blogging”.
It’s important to mention, all blogs will fall into one of these two categories, internal and external. External blogs are open to public, anyone can read and often comment on it as well, businesses use these blogs for the purposes mentioned in the above paragraph. Internal blogs are for within the business only, they are kept private from the world, and they serve a different purpose from external blogs.
Lenovo is the 4th largest PC maker in the world, and has a few blogs that they maintain for different purposes. For example, ‘The Lenovo Files‘ is a blog with the intention of providing readers with the behind the scenes of what’s happening at Lenovo. Posts are usually focused on talking about new products and technologies, as well as providing help for users of it’s products. For die-hard Lenovo fans, this is a really good blog, they can keep themselves informed of new products and features.
As this blog allows commenting, it does create room for negative comments which is a risk, but this risk either can be controlled by monitoring the comments made or it could be turned around to become an advantage, if Lenovo employees provide useful feedback on these comments, as well as using this as a communication channel to listen to customers feedback.
Micro-blogging is another important form of blogs. Micro-blogs are basically blogs, except really short (often controlled by a character limit), I often see micro blogs used to share links to new posts made on other blogs. Twitter is probably the most popular micro-blogging platform today, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, with over 190 million visitors every month.
There’s a list here of mashable.com‘s best 40 Twitter-active companies. Using micro-blogs such as Twitter, allows businesses to communicate directly to it’s customers as well as other businesses, and as a result allows a much more personal relationship to grow between them. Twitter can be used by businesses to keep customers (or potential customers) interested in a product or brand by ‘tweeting’ about current business activity and release dates, etc. For example Apple could tweet about near features in the iPhone 4.
Both blogging and micro-blogging share a similar security risks. For example, an employee of a company could put confidential company information onto either one of these types of blogs, for the whole world to see, even if the information was taken back down it is very likely that someone could have replicated the data. A real example of this is of Red Cross. Noel Wardick, who was head of the international department for the Red Cross, set up a personal blog late last year, and put up posts outlining a number of serious problems within the organisation, including financial. Although Noel initially kept his identity as anonymous, he was eventually caught and suspended from his position. To tackle this, companies must stay relevant with changing technology by creating a ‘social media policy’ which will put rules around what employees can legally put on the internet.
On a different note, even today, I found Twitter really useful because I had been waiting for the new iPhone OS 4.1 update to be released, I also wanted to know how effective it would be in fixing my iPhone 3G speed issues. A Twitter search of ‘iOS 4.1’ showed me statuses of anyone who included this in their status update. As a result, I found that the update had been released and some people noted on the performance improvements as well.
So, what experience has your company had with blogging / micro-blogging? Has it helped? Has it created areas of concern?