Companies Can't Afford to Ignore Blogs
April 25, 2005 (SmartPros) Companies can't afford to ignore the millions of blogs -- online journals -- that currently permeate the Internet, according to BusinessWeek columnists Stephen Baker and Heather Green in the May 2 cover story, "Blogs Will Change Your Business."
The article warns that blogs in cyberspace "could be talking about your business, engaging your employees, or leaking those merger discussions you thought were hush-hush."
Bloggers can be anyone -- even an employee -- who has something to say and a place on the Net to say it. BusinessWeek cites the case of Mark Jen, a young programmer at Google, who started blogging about his new employer. After candid gripes in his blog about issues such as a poor health plan, he was fired. Google said he didn't use common sense. The company was criticized for overreacting.
On the other hand, blogs are increasingly used by companies for their own benefit, such as to communicate directly with customers. Smart businesses, contend Baker and Green, track blogs in which they appear -- good news or bad. This is the easiest and most important step for businesses to get in on the "information explosion" that is blogging.
Robert Scoble, the creator of the Scobleizer blog, has put a softer face on his employer Microsoft through his postings read widely by software developers (and industry watchers) around the world. Earlier this year, The Economist described Scoble as "a phenomenon not just because he has had an unusually strange career of late, but because his example might mark the beginning of the end of 'corporate communications' as we know it."
Improve the bottom line
Companies and public relations firms can't afford to ignore the influence bloggers are having in the media and directly to the consumers," says Steve Etzler, founder of Business Development Institute. The Institute will host a blog event -- "Blogging Goes Mainstream: Is Your Company Ready?" -- in New York City on May 3.
Eva Lang, executive director of Financial Consulting Group, agrees that blogs can improve the bottom line. She says an accountant could be perceived as an expert by putting in more hours, charging a higher rate, and building a reputation by writing for journals and speaking at conferences -- a lengthy process.
"Those methods still work," explains Lang, "but a blog can enhance and expedite the process of building a reputation. An obscure, knowledgeable professional with an interesting blog can attain expert status quickly."
She continues: "Blogs rank high in search engines. Someone who was not on the Google radar prior to starting a blog may suddenly find that she is recording hundreds of hits to her Web site. Perhaps the blog will catch the eye of a local reporter, resulting in coverage in the mainstream media. Pretty soon she will be getting calls to comment on industry issues. Readership of the blog will increase as potential clients get interested in the blogger's opinions. And, what do you know? Looks like a newly minted expert on her way to higher billing rates!"
More on blogs
Accounting blogs worth visiting -- for content as well as ideas -- include Tax Prof Blog authored by Tax Prof at the University of Cincinatti School, and The CPA Technology Advisor blog by its executive director. Business Blogs for Business Applications offers tips for professionals looking for direction on how to blog.
Don't miss the BusinessWeek article, and its online extras, at www.businessweek.com. Also, BusinessWeek has announced its own blog, Blogspotting.net, to "cover the business drama ahead, as blogging spreads into companies and redefines media."2005 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.