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.

Robert Scoble: Will new Blog Council help big companies get small conversations?:

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.

Dave Taylor: Big Business “Blog Council” created, business world yawns:

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.


7 Responses to “The Blog Council is a good idea – the enterprise HAS different needs than small business and Joe Blogger”

  1. Nicole –

    Thanks for the great post. You’ve done a better job than anyone of summarizing the need for this group and the challenges we face.

    By vendors, we mean companies selling blogging services. It’s hard to talk about how to do something when people in the room are selling you their perspective.

    Thanks for feedback and helping us improve.



  2. rick calvert says:

    Great Post Nicole. Just a correction, at least three of the Blog Council’s members were at BlogWorld. Cisco, SAP, and Microsoft. We talked to a few of the others before the event. Several other large corporations were in attendance as well.

    I applaud the formation of this group and well and hope they succeed. We will all benefit if they do.

    Blog on!
    Rick Calvert
    CEO & Co-founder
    BlogWorld & New Media Expo

    ps. You didn’t hurt my feelings 8)

  3. Hi, Nicole. Super analysis. I wonder if the solution is an associate membership for vendors. The vendor memberships would help fund any staff or overhead costs.

    In a different life, I participated in one such organization, the National Council of State Housing Agencies (U.S.), It’s not widely known, but state housing agencies actually have a fair amount of money at their disposal, and lots of vendors — especially financial types — want to stay close to this market. NCSHA has 55 state members (50 states + DC + territories) and no fewer than 350 associate members. At meetings, the associate members are often frozen out of certain let-our-hair-down roundtables, but they are welcome in other workshops. The system works well. And it sure lets the primary members know that someone is interested in them when the vendor poinies up for the associate member fee.

    $0.02 from a guy getting back into the blogging world.

  4. Ted Shelton says:

    Nicole: Great post on why big companies should talk to each other about blogging. But there are a few things still worth addressing — why does the “Blog Council” talk about “tactics” — why is “Gas Pedal” involved (a small vendor) — the FAQ says “We will also serve as a voice for corporate blogging” so why is there no blog council blog — in fact, why is there no way to talk back to the “Blog Council” and why doesn’t Andy allow any comments on the post he made on his blog — and ultimately, why is Andy and the Blog Council having so much trouble responding to the responsible debate in the marketplace, that they started?

    After all, another entry from the Blog Council’s FAQ states that the Blog Council will help big company with:

    “What is the correct way to engage and respond to bloggers who write about your company?”

    So is the correct way to ignore? To say “This is an argument we can’t win, so lets not engage.” ?

    I AGREE with you. The Blog Council is a good idea. More big companies should be blogging. And they should be spending time talking with each other about best practices.

    I think there is something fundamentally wrong with one small vendor (Gas Pedal) creating an entity, charging money to a bunch of big companies to belong, and then trumpeting through a press release that they have created a private club, don’t bother applying. And the biggest problem comes when that company (Gas Pedal) then does not engage in the public discussion that they created.

    I told this to Andy when he called me privately on the phone. The criticism that is being leveled of this effort is NOT that big companies should not blog (we all think they should); it is NOT that they don’t have different problems (we all think they DO); and it is NOT that they need to listen to us about how to do it (we’d like them to hear what we have to say, but they have to want to listen). NO, the problem with this whole exercise is that it exposes what is fundamentally wrong with one part of the business communities approach to blogging. That it is just another marketing tactic to be exploited. As Larry Weber says in his book of the same name, “Marketing TO the Social Web”

    The best thing these companies could learn from this experience is that it is time to start having conversations WITH markets and that this is what blogging will let them accomplish.

  5. Ted,

    I’m not sure how to answer your concern, except to say that this is what my company does. We organize events and associations. I would expect that most conferences you attend and most groups you join were started by a similar person or organization.

    It is important to note is that GasPedal is only the staff of the organization, not members. We manage the back office, the members lead the issues and discussion. We have 3 people working full time 12-hour days to put this together.

    Considering that I called you personally within 10 min of your email to me to responded to your concerns, and we (GasPedal and all the Blog Council members) have been commenting openly on the 200+ blog posts, I apologize if we haven’t had a chance to join each and every conversation.

    But we’re tying.


  6. Ted Shelton says:


    Thanks for your call. And thanks for engaging in the conversation. You say that you don’t know how to answer my concern, but then you are doing it — you are engaging in the conversation that the market is having about your idea. I think that is the right way to do it. So lets take the conversation a little further (as I said to you on the phone, conversations evolve). You write in your comment on this blog about what your company does — “organize events and associations.” I can take this at face value, because I have spoken with you and we know people in common so you have a reputation that I can refer to. But the market will read your website which is titled:

    “Welcome to GasPedal! Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy, Training, and Best Practices”

    This is not a personal attack. I am not questioning your honesty or your intentions. I am pointing out that there is a problem in your communications about what you are doing.

    I think it is great that you are engaging. Please keep doing so. There is a bunch of stuff that can be set straight in the market about your ideas, and doing so will change the course of the conversation.

  7. Gabemac says: