The Blog Council is a good idea – the enterprise HAS different needs than small business and Joe Blogger
This cought my eye this morning: A blog council made for enterprise sized corporations, to share and learn. As expected, the blogosphere is all over the clueless corporations again, though missing the point behind it. I welcome this step, but do have the question why the blog council claims to be vendor free yet have two of the biggest player in corporate (Microsoft and SAP) on board.
I’m pretty skeptical. Why? Cause I’ve done enough speaking to enough corporations now that if they don’t get why they should be talking with their customers already I don’t get how hanging out at yet another boring industry conference is going to help them to get it.
Because it is not just about blogging to the outside. they will be able to work with others who have similar needs rather than with somebody foreign to their needs and structure. They will discuss not whether WordPress is a good blogging tool or not, but how to fit social media tools into the intranet, into their IT strategy and deal with the outside. They will talk about how to deal with laws around information providing rather than about how to get more traffic.
Dealing with the Cluetrain is only part of the problem. An important one, probably the most relevant – but by far not the only one. To put it in everybody’s favorite terms of the longtail: Cluetrain as a metaphor for having to deal with the consumers / customers on the outside is the bestseller. Absolutely relevant, not to be neglected. But the longtail of problems are neither to be ignored, and they need to be dealt with too.
My translation: “we’re all clueless, but don’t want anyone to realize just how unplugged our organizations have become from the world of “marketing 2.0″, so we created a club so our ignorance can be shielded from public eyes.”
Alright, that’s probably a bit harsh, I admit, but having helped organize the terrific Blogworld Expo last month in Las Vegas, why weren’t these companies there? We had over a thousand of the smartest trend-setting bloggers and new media people in the world all neatly in one place. That’s how you learn, guys, from talking with the best in the business — and everyone else — not by hiring an expensive consultant to have discussions behind closed doors.
Because the people attending those conference in general cater to the small and the middle business market. Not to the ones of large corporations. It may hurt to read this, but Blogworld Expo is a consumer expo. Yes, also with corporate / enterprise touches, but only sprinkles.
The other entries on Techmeme looks similar at the project. To sum it up “they don’t get it, why don’t they ask us, they are clueless, they want their control back this is why they are doing it in private” yada yada.
Basically a similar response from the sphere as I encountered last year when I visited the Office 2.0 conference and saw the same kind of people crash with corporate. I can’t describe how baffled I was by their cluelessness. “I don’t get why corporate IT hates me – all we want from them is to put their data on our servers, but as soon as we say that, we get the door slammed in our face. But we are so cool!” Really? Who would have guessed. And my favorite quote? “Sap is irrelevant in the Office space.”. Right.
It is the same kind of response you get from employees complaining about the fact that they read in the morning paper about some changes in their company, rather than being told so first.
Now, let’s have a look at what the website of that blog council says (emphasis mine):
The Blog Council exists as a forum for executives to meet one another in a private, vendor-free environment and share tactics, offer advice based on past experience, and develop standards-based best practices as a model for other corporate blogs.
“Major corporations use blogs differently while abiding by the same rules and etiquette,” said Blog Council CEO Andy Sernovitz. “Individual and small-business bloggers don’t face the same issues. For example, we still need to deliver a responsible and effective corporate message, but we need to do it in the complicated environment of the blogosphere. We have to speak for a corporation, but never sound ‘corporate.’ And we have to learn to do it live, and in real-time.”
We will also serve as a voice for corporate blogging. Companies will be blogging, but we will do it differently than personal or small business blogs. There is no one “right way” to blog.
Members are 1) large corporations that 2) have significant blogs.
We don’t represent vendors, agencies or individual/small business blogs. We also don’t represent big businesses that aren’t blogging yet.
Our purpose is to help our members develop effective policies and learn from each other. Teaching ethical best practices will be a core part of our program. The Blog Council is a community, not a trade association, so we don’t set or enforce polices.
The point, repeated over and over again: “We have different needs. We need a different surrounding to talk to each other, we have different interests. We have to deal with this internally and externally, and yet make it work.”
Claiming that those corporations as well should go to the places individuals and small / middle businesses go is like to request of a video maker to ‘just’ learn how to do efficient blogging. Yes, he can make use of some of the lessons learned, but basically video has different needs. Which need to be taken care of.
I read in this announcement simply: If you have already committed to the step of doing blogging in some way, you can join. And we will help you work on issues like policies, provide best practices and at the same time make sure that your privacy is dealt with, in order for you to be able to share information. Why does everybody seem to assume that just because the council in general is a private club, that they will not listen to the outside?
And that they are only clueless people at these organisations. Hello? Have you looked at the list of the members and just make a quick guess how many employers world wide those companies have? For example Cisco, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Microsoft, Nokia and SAP? Plus I do not read anywhere that they will not invite ‘outsiders’ to contribute.
So this sounds good and relevant to me. Except the no vendors part.
Because looking at the list of members, these here catch my eye at once: Microsoft and SAP. (Notice the absence of IBM?)
Major corporations run on the combination of Microsoft and SAP software. To a point that if SAP promises to have a certain functionality, it will get marked as “this product provides the functionality” in evaluations of products.
Now, let’s say you are a major company, and you do want to get into this blogging thing. Joe Doe is provided with the job to figure this thing out. Running around the blogosphere and alike he encounters a lot of good ideas – but many of them just not applicable onto this major corporation. Just as he can’t run the company on a spreadsheet, he runs it on something called SAP. And he can’t work on some Gmail Apps online, but uses a decent mail server.
He learns, that Microsoft and SAP are involved in something called the Blog Council. Which they are part of. And it is only for major corporations. Great! Place found! Oh and btw they also provide tools (not know, but SAP already announced they want to get into that game, even become the leader).
Sweet. A place where he can share and learn, where they face the same challenges and they work with the tools he also has to deal with. That’s what I call a match made in heaven.
So congratulation on that, and the only question I do have at the moment to Andy Sernovitz basically is: You claim free of vendors, yet you have SAP and Microsoft in there.
Given, they are tremendous assets for their enterprise expertise – but they are (future) vendors in this space too.
The part which i totally disagree on? “No criticize”. Of course I disagree, it is my job to criticize. ;) But yet in the way criticizing is meant: As feedback, as a way to grow. Because if all is shiny, you will not be able to evolve. You can call it analyse, or anything else you want, but you need feedback, criticism, what ever you call it, to evolve. And looking at the current state of things – you need a lot of it.
And here I agree with the cited above – major corporations need to adapt, and do it fast. Just not the exact same way everybody else does.
Added: Direct2Dell nails it in “Why I Think the Blog Council is a Good Idea“
That means letting real people have real conversations just like individual blogs do. But it’s a bit different from a corporate perspective.
Transparency is still key, but the reality for large corporations is that there are some things we can’t discuss.
Tags: business blogging