The Financial Times published a piece last weekend on business blogging. Originally published by the Irish Times, the article is the latest big-media reporting on this topic.
Overall, the article discusses the importance blogs have gained in their role as influencers of opinion. Excerpts:
They were once seen as the preserve of the geek, but nowadays personal opinion and diary pages – weblogs or “blogs” – are so powerful that huge corporations are taking an interest. The sites that started as observational home pages for enthusiasts have become so powerful that they are starting a new industry of blog monitoring in which media companies scour the net to advise brands on how their name is being talked about online, away from the traditional newspaper and broadcast media sites.
The thinking behind this emerging service industry is simple. While there were only 130,000 sites four years ago, today there are about 10m. These web pages can make or break a company’s reputation because they provide links to one another and allow people to comment on postings.
In fact the medium has become so important that Bill Gates has even launched his own website (at www.microsoft.com/billgates), which is rumoured to be on the verge of modernisation – featuring regular updates rather than just transcripts of speeches.
Using Bill Gates’ website as an example in this context, the reporter might be confusing ‘normal’ websites with blogs. The Gates site certainly isn’t a blog (well, not yet at least).
The article does focus on some very good points, somewhat simplistically in places:
It is not just computer brands who are starting to realise that the blog is a huge image-making network that cannot be ignored. Olympus, for example, has devised a new marketing strategy to embrace the medium. Whenever a new camera is approaching its launch, details are passed on to prominent blogs, a spokesman reveals, because the sites are crucial to getting interest ahead of the launch as well as getting early feedback on what the public thinks of the new model.
That is the feeling at Ford, which has recently started to use a blog-searching service because, as its executive director of public affairs, Tim Holmes, reveals, the manufacturer realised that no modern brand can afford not to listen to what people are saying about it online. “Like most big companies, we monitor the press, but the problem with that is it’s always retrospective, everything’s a few weeks old,” he says.
I wonder what ‘blog-searching service’ Ford is using. Subscribing to blogs’ RSS webfeeds would work extremely well and be pretty much immediate (maybe that’s what the journalist meant).
Probably the best summary of how influential a blog can be is this snippet from the article:
In fact, blogs have become so powerful that they already have the launch of a company to their credit. Kathy Rittweger, CEO of Blinkx, was on what she thought was just a normal trip to the offices of Business 2.0 magazine to show the editor her new search software. Om Malik, one of the journalists in the meeting, was so impressed that he immediately wrote about it on his blog.
“He called me to say he’d done a ‘blog’ on us and I have to confess I was disappointed as it didn’t sound as good as an article,” Rittweger reflects. “Within a couple of hours we were being mentioned on thousands of sites and I had venture capitalists calling me left, right and centre. The blog made us so popular that we had to bring forward our launch from autumn to June.”
FT.com | Never underestimate the power of the blogger
Irish Times | Never underestimate the power of the blogger
Subscriptions required on both sites to read the article.