Blogging, social media, communications, and corporations–More advice for a grad student

Joe Thornley got this request for help from a grad student:

Hello Mr. Thornley,

My name is Leah and I am a graduate student at xxx University in
yyy and I am writing a research paper about blogging. … My
research is exploring the use of blogging as a useful social facilitator
between the media(community) and organizations. …

I would love to know how you view the use of blogs in terms of importance in
the communication between businesses and corporations and the media. Has it
greatly helped? Some corporations have had some embarrassing mishaps with
the use of blogs (ex. wal-mart), how can this be prevented? Why should
corporations still consider the use of blogs despite their fears? If a
corporation is considering the development of a blog, what things should be
taken into consideration?

If you could provide some insight into any of these questions that would be
wonderful. …

Sincerely,
Leah H.

Having been a grad student, and having asked similar questions to my scientific peers during that time, I feel for the woman. And since Joe asked for all of our help in expanding on what he said, well I said I’d give it a shot–just not within the constraints of a comment box. I actually offered to e-mail it, but eh, I’m in a blogging mood right now so I’m going to run with that.

Like Joe pointed out considering just blogs in this question too tight a constraint. I’d expand, as he did, to just say “social media”. Blogs, podcasts, video blogs, livecasting, social networks (Facebook, etc).

The whole “why” questions is a really good one. Pretty similar to the “why do we need a website” a few years ago. Essentially the why is this is how we are communicating with each other. People like to connect and communicate, marketers know this and have been following new communications media for centuries. Imagine this conversation: “I’ve heard about this new ‘newspaper’ thing. Some that guy Ben Franklin has a new one going and he wants to know if we want to have a little bit about our company in it. It’s just a fad, he’s crazy…”

Fine, I’m playing a little fast and loose with historical facts. I was an anthro major, not a history major, cut me some slack. You get my point though, right? The “why” isn’t because this is the cool, new thing, it’s because looking over the past five years the trend has been more and more information online. The trend in the last three has been the opening of the social conversation between companies and customers. If you aren’t participating in the conversation, and even listening counts, you’re going to miss out on an amazing realm of information and knowledge.

Now the preventing mistakes. Well, firstly, you can’t. Sorry, it’s going to happen. We’re people, we goof. It’s in our nature as much as it is to communicate. Now you can lessen the “doh!” factor by listening to the conversations in the social media space. Listening lets you get a feel for the social norms in the social media sphere, who the influencers are in your niche, and maybe most importantly, who to call when you need help.

Leah, I hope this answers more of your questions.

 

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