Monday, February 12, 2007

Corporate blogging and social media

Been a long while since a train of thought stayed long enough in my head for me to blog it... must say broadband at home makes it much easier to log on.

Was doing some research on the prevalence of corporate blogging, and the ways in which social media operates, when I realized that no amount of research would give me as good an understanding as actually plunging into it. To be honest, I am a highly unlikely candidate to carry out such an experiment--for one, I am borderline technology-phobic (much as I'm ashamed to admit it, that's the plain truth). The issue is the inherent inertia to make an effort to understand how the technology works. For another, I'm uncomfortable sharing personal details beyond the most obtuse references--and social media thrives on real, honest and believable voices. I have a fundamental disconnect with that extent of disclosure online. Call it fear of the unknown or just plain stupidity, it's the reason why my writing derives from my life & experiences but I do not claim that it is autobiographical.

A very interesting feature of social media is how certain unlikely issues or events are taken up by the online public and generate heated debates... in traditional media, public thought and reaction is moderated to a large extent by the concerns of business empires that publish the news. Online, it is difficult to predict or even explain how certain events or issues take over public attention.

Given the nature of social media, I see an immediate contradiction with corporate blogging as a PR/ Communications tool. Blogging and social media function on the tenet of 'dialogue', which assumes that the conversation flows both ways and there is room for feedback, collaboration and healthy disagreement. The focus is not on political correctness, rather on authenticity. Traditional PR/ Communications from corporates is a one-way information dissemination channel that conveys very specific, filtered information with extremely limited scope to question or seek additional information.

The moot question is, how do we marry the two? For, corporate blogging more and more is not a question of 'if', rather of 'when'. Some of the questions that I'm trying to find answers to are:
1. Why should my organization blog?
2. What realistic expectations can my organization have about the benefits of blogging, and what obvious pitfalls or shortcomings should we be wary of?
3. Who in the organization should blog?
4. What role does PR/ Corporate Communications have in this?
5. What guidelines/policy should govern corporates bloggers?
6. How can my organization measure the impact & effectiveness of corporate blogging?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic...

Also, please do check out my other blogs, Burnished Silence and Astral Conversations, which are more along abstract lines.

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