Blogging Irony: We Encourage Corporations to Blog as our Business but Discourage Them by our Behavior

by Marianne Richmond on March 31, 2006

As part of my consulting business I promote blogging to businesses, service professionals, and non-profits. Many consultants, Advertising and PR bloggers do the same thing. We tell them it is an easy, inexpensive way to build businesses and brands; we say, blogs build relationships and join the conversation.And we say the best way to learn about blogs is to read blogs.

Well, I believe all those statements are true…the problem is you hope that they are not reading blogs the week that a number of bloggers are pulverizing a brand blog and asking that the marketing department be fired, or having a too personal slugfest over Wal-Mart and Edelman and who should have said what ,or a lower moment, the Strumpette dumpathon.

John Wagner at On Message from Wagner Communication writes, "There is a lesson to be learned from Strumpette and I hope all you blogists, Kool-Aid drinkers and social media consultants were paying attention." The lesson he is teaching is an old one really, public displays of engagement with an adversary seldom accomplish much. Although he makes some good points and the comments to his post represent the spectrum of opinions, I think his perhaps off hand reference to why corporate America is cautious about blogging is just as important.

He references a blog post on Scatterbox that is critical of hypocricies noted about McDonald’s social repsonisibility blog in light his opinions that their menu is less than responsible, as an example of the kind of criticism a corporation might face in the blogosphere. Again, it’s a valid point. If a corporation has a blog it can and probably will be examined for evidence of inconsistencies with stated corporate policies, product or service offerings, or even political contributions. Any public communication by a corporation is subject to this. And really in my opinion, corporations, just like the rest of us should be held accountable for consistency.

What I think is another important point is that when a company launches a blog and bloggers write things like, "Last wednesday, February 15th Guinness (a generally forward thinking
and creative marketer) launched a blog. As opposed to the usual puffery
and inauthenticity that can be associated with some of the “Corporate Brand Jobs” that pass for blogs, " does it really encourage the brand manager reading the post to feel like adding it to the old marketing plan? And that was pretty tame next to what Juicey Fruit got. McDonald’s blog was not exactly welcomed with open arms, even before the first post went up.

Final comment…it seems that for all the instructions we receive about how to build traffic the way to really build traffic fast is sex, scandal, innuendo, and other forms of negative attention. Thank you Strumpette, building traffic on a blog has now been shown to be the same as building traffic anywhere. Well corporate America, you know all those new things we told you about that will help you build readership and join the conversation…links, pings, comments, tags? Well, the more things change the more they stay the same. Sex sells so come on in…there just isn’t a life guard on duty everyday.

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