What’s Underneath Can Really Lift You Up
Naked Conversations explains that blogging is all about showing the world who you are underneath it all—hence the title.
Scoble and Israel discuss how many people assume that blogging is a fad due to its sudden popularity, but the way that it has transformed communication is undeniable, and will surely leave an impact on the way people communicate even if the system as we know it today evolves. I think the premise that blogging is a fad is similar to one of this week’s hot blog topics, which discussed Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer’s comment that social networks will eventually go out of style. His explanation was that anything that appeals to the younger generation typically lacks the longevity to sustain its popularity. I believe that the key is to keep things interesting. Very few people would continue to find enjoyment going to Myspace daily year after year to see the same features and applications just as very few people would continue to find enjoyment playing the same board game daily year after year. You have to keep blogging interesting for it to succeed, just as you would with anything else. Blogging, however, has another advantage over social networks in regard to its longevity and that is its influence.
It’s sporadically mentioned how the word of mouth concept has also proven to be incredibly influential; in fact it is presented as the most effective means of getting your message across. ICQ is a major example of its power. The instant messaging product started out between a few friends, but within two years, the service had spread to so many users that AOL purchased the company for $287 million dollars. Blogging has taken instant messaging’s place as the “last great killer application,” but it is still an amazing application that has changed the way people communicate.
Blogging has proven to be an effective business communication tool, and a company that has benefited significantly from its onset is Microsoft. Not long ago, the company and its leaders were despised by many, but the adoption of blogs by employees helped to prove that the company was not the “evil empire” that everyone claimed. I have to question the objectivity of the section of the book discussing Microsoft considering one of co-authors was brought on to save the company’s image by heading up their blog, but regardless, I am sure the fundamentals of the lessons to be learned remain the same.
One reason why blogging to save the company’s image was effective was that blogs are generally perceived as being straight-forward and personal, and when you compare this against a company that sends out press releases to improve their image, there is no real comparison as to who the public will place the most trust. Reading information written by real people versus PR staff is more effective for gaining the public’s trust.
The perks of blogging are of course used for more than just fixing an image, it’s also used to build them. The authors discuss how companies like Stonyfield Farm used blogging to enhance their image and gain loyalty from customers. The company developed blogs written by the owner, parents, a farmer, and a professional writer in order to facilitate communication between the company and the consumers to which they cater their products. Blogs are also useful because executives are able to speak directly to people, telling their story or explaining their side of a story that has already been presented to the public by other outlets. Afterward, they are able to receive immediate feedback from readers. Many readers also appreciate the immediate feedback feature with blogging. Before, when people were limited to responding to print organizations, their only option was to write a letter to the editor, which could take weeks to be printed, and even then it could be edited, so your true thoughts were not necessarily conveyed, and if they were, they did not always reach your audience, since not everyone reads these letters consistently. Blogging is an efficient way of ensuring that readers hear exactly how you feel on a topic.
Top executives are now able to speak directly to company employees, and vice versa, allowing for a better flow of agency communication and better understanding and reverence throughout the various levels of the organization. Companies are also able to reach new audiences due to blogs. The tool helps people to establish a reputation for themselves and in turn, their product. People first develop trust for the blog writer, and trust for the product soon follows once people trust you and your expertise.
Blogs are undoubtedly beneficial, but I question exactly how effective they are for targeting mainstream America considering the book discusses how different bloggers are from the rest of society. When discussing how Microsoft’s image has improved due to blogging, the authors quote Wall Street Journal’s Mossberg as saying, “the security crisis has undone much of the good Microsoft did in improving it’s image—at least in the mainstream community, where most people don’t read technology oriented blogs or attend technology conferences or post their feelings on web pages that Google can search.” Does this imply that blogs exclude this segment of the population? Chapters 1-8 do not discuss how or if the effectiveness blogs have on readers will trickle down to the general population, but I hope there is a section in the remainder of the book that addresses this issue.
Reading and writing blogs is dependent on a person’s background and present situation. The amount a person blogs is explained to be dependent a few aspects including a country’s cultural beliefs toward open communication, (if the blog is work-related) their work environment, and Internet accessibility. For example, the Chinese are typically more reserved in regard to discussing personal maters, which explains why the country lags behind in blogging.
On top of the previous reasons listed, blogging is still a relatively new concept, and because of this, additional time is needed in order to gain the attention and respect that it deserves from the general population. Regardless of what the current limitations are, I believe blogging will continue to grow; however, I predict that the application will evolve to meet the needs of a larger audience.