Blogging has no intrinsic value
Intrinsic. adj. Of or relating to the fundamental nature of a thing; inherent. (Webster's)
Blogging, whether you think of it as a form, a medium or a vehicle, has no intrinsic value.
Strong words, especially when you consider that I've recently been characterized as a blog fanatic (and by the way, I did not take offense at all). In the sense that I believe Daniel Bernstein meant, that I am a believer in the value of blogging and "social media" for both individuals and business, yes, I am a fanatic. But it isn't "the blog" per se that I value -- it is what it gives us.
For the real value of blogs (and all social media, whether wiki, forum or podcast) isn't the thing itself. See above. In and of itself, it has no value.
The value is in what it gives us. For individuals, blogs fill all sorts of needs - community, conversation, education, reputation, validation. There as many reasons why as there are bloggers. But the answer to why do we blog is never simply "because." It is always because something.
We shouldn't expect it to be any different for a business. Yes, there are many reasons why a business might consider blogging. But never "just because."
It has to come back to the business and marketing plan. Blogging has to fit into the business plan and deliver to an existing business objective. It doesn't have to be an overt sales/marketing objective -- it could just as easily be something important for customer service or development.
A big part of the value of blogs -- of even considering doing a business blog -- is the focus on the customer. That's why I embraced blogging in the first place. I have long been a proponent of customer-centric marketing, and blogs are most definitely (and sometimes painfully) customer centric.
But if the business doesn't understand how blogging will deliver to something that is ALREADY important to it, it will NOT do it.
When it does....
Companies of all sizes are embracing blog monitoring. It's a no-brainer, really. We already monitor the media; blogs are an obvious extension, and a great way to listen to customers and other influencers. And cranks too of course, but the most important thing is to listen and take action when appropriate. You don't actually have to respond to every comment.
In fact, we should never feed the trolls. It only encourages them.
It's also why we hear a lot about companies using blogs internally. Blogs connect employees, as workers and as individuals, in highly beneficial ways. That fits the plan. So, if a company NEVER does a public corporate blog, but encourages internal blogs, and maybe even/eventually employees blogging externally, connecting with customers, we've got something good. Makes this blog fanatic happy anyway :-)
So whether you are talking to the Fortune 500 or a mom and pop shop, stay focused on what't important to them as a business. If a blog makes sense, recommend it, but make sure you couch the recommendation in a solid business case. Because they aren't going to (and shouldn't) do it "just because."
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