My previous post about corporate blogging raised a few questions that Mohit has addressed here. Since my previous post, I have been reading up quite a bit on the topic (not surprising that bloggers love to blog about the advantages of blogging!) and also some corporate blogs that seem to be doing well. And I thought I'd share my views on the questions I raised, and maybe raise a few more this time... so here goes.
1. Why should my organization blog?
The answer to this is fairly obvious for Nokia. We operate in the technology space. We sell mobile phones, yes... what we also sell increasingly are mobile experiences, be it in lifestyle (the 5500 sport or the new stylishly slim 6300), music (5300 Xpress music, the Nseries music editions) or video (the Nseries, esp N93 & N93i with digicam capabilities & more).
For a brand that has such a strong association with communication and connecting, and has a stated public intent of riding the convergence curve through transforming to an Internet company, there are compelling reasons to start a 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?
Benefits: As Mohit pointed out, connecting to consumers as well as potential recruits (completing the feedback loop on the brand & employer promise) is the essence of blogging. The aspect I think we as an organization need to think through is how to go beyond mere dialogue to track and use the soft data that an interactive media like a blog throws up.
Pitfalls/ Shortcomings: I think the key point we need to keep in mind is that a blog is like an open dinner party with no guest list. Treating it like a media/PR event and looking to control the flow of communication can be damaging in the extreme. At best, we can outline some basic tenets of appropriate behavior for the blogger and set expectations straight in terms of the purpose of the blog.
Gautam's case analysis relates, in some ways, directly to Nokia's business. Crown music produces the kind of content that consumers use on their Nokia mobiles. And understanding a consumer's music consumption needs means first understanding the kind of music he likes to listen to and in what settings. If we take that example, then the benefits of a music association blog on Nokia's website become self-evident.
An example of how this plays out is this blog by Stephen Johnston, where he blogs extensively on technology advances against the backdrop of Nokia. The focus of the blog is technology, no doubt, yet I can see the benefits of such a blog by an employee as a window into what the organization is doing in the technology space & where it's headed.
3. Who in the organization should blog?
I agree that the most important decision makers will be credible. But I also feel that, especially for building an employer brand, it is just as essential to get on board some of the younger organizations members and some of those the organization believes communicate best its culture and values. Creating aspirational role models and giving people a realistic picture of where they can get in the near future will be more effective for this purpose than a CEO blog where the disconnect may be high.
4. What role does PR/ Corporate Communications have in this?
None! Except maybe to track the information/ feedback coming in from consumers.
5. What guidelines/policy should govern corporates bloggers?
Blogging guidelines, I feel, are required to ensure that an organization doesn't leave any loopholes for legal tangles. Situations & people are not always ideal or rational, and it is prudent for an organization to have a simple do's & don'ts guideline on what is bloggable content & what is appropriate blogging behavior. I think it is perfectly within the right of an organization to define these basic parameters as a corporate blog implies that the organization endorses the individual's association with it & entrusts enough faith in him/ her as a spokesperson.
6. How can my organization measure the impact & effectiveness of corporate blogging?
I am not aware of the technology available for tracking, but I can think of some very simple metrics that will allow an organization to track the effectiveness of a blog. Traffic, for example, and comments generated. Higher job applications, especially after posts that generated good traffic, if the blog falls in the careers section. Soft data in terms of positive vs negative comments/ feedback. And I think it is essential to track this data, to atleast identify if a blog is serving the purpose for which it was created.
So there's my two bits... any views?