Arguments against business blogging?

A couple of commenters on a recent post raised issues I hear time and again when I discuss the advantages of blogs for businesses:

  1. Blogging has a poor perception
  2. Blogging takes too much time
  3. Blogging allows people to make negative comments on your site

Let’s deal with each of these points:

1. Blogging has a poor perception

Unfortunately this is still very much the case. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard variations on the “Blogging is something done by lonely teenagers in their bedroom…” line.

The fact of the matter is that, yes, blogging is something done by lonely teenagers in their bedrooms. Then again, phone calls are also done by lonely teenagers in their bedroom, that doesn’t take from the fact that the phone is a fabulous communications tool.

Similarly, a blog is one of the most effective communications tools yet created. Blogs are now used as part of the communications toolset internally and/or externally by many of the Fortune 500 companies.

2. Blogging takes too much time
This one is harder to refute. Yes, blogging does take a significant amount of time.

Having said that, Jonathan Schwartz, President and CEO of Sun Microsystems blogs regularly. Sun is a fortune 500 company. If the President and CEO of a Fortune 500 company can find time to blog, so can you.

But wait, Sun is a technology company, you say, he has a greater need to blog. Rubbish!

Look then at Michel-Edouard Leclerc. Who? Michel is CEO of the Leclerc distribution group in France, a multi-billion euro company with 85,000 employees. Leclerc finds time to blog regularly.

Look at Margot Wallstrom, vice president of the European Commission who also finds time to blog regularly.

Look at Mark Cuban, an American entrepreneur and billionaire. Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, an NBA basketball team; and Chairman of HDNet, an HDTV cable network. Mark is a regular blogger.

In fact here is a list of other high profile CEO bloggers – and the number is growing daily.

3. Blogging allows people to make negative comments on your site
Yes it does, and this is a good thing!

If people are going to say something bad about your company/product/service, they will say it whether you have a blog or not. However, if they say it on your blog, you get to see it immediately and you get to respond to it quickly.

If your blog has built up a readership, there is a strong chance that one of your readers will jump in and answer on your behalf. This looks even better, especially if the person leaving the negative comment was incorrect in their assertion or was trolling.

On the other hand, if the person leaving the negative comment is correct in what they say, you get a chance to shine with respect to your customer service. You respond by thanking them for their feedback and making you aware of this shortcoming on the part of your product/service (if you were previously unaware of it, then you have just received very valuable market research).

You could ask the commenter if they would like to be involved in the issue resolution process because they obviously have something valuable to contribute.

Suddenly, you have turned a negative situation around into a positive one.

A former boss of mine used to say that a customer who had a complaint which was handled well was going to be a far more loyal customer than one who never had any complaint.

Negative comments are great. They give you free market research on your products, they give you a chance to shine as a customer champion and by publishing them on your site, you are showing that you are fully transparent and that you can embrace criticism.

What other arguments are there against business blogging?

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6 thoughts on “Arguments against business blogging?

  1. Justin Mason

    I think it’s a matter of control; most businesses feel that they need to be “masters of their message”, with heavy PR goons, silencing “libel” lawsuits, and no third-party discussion of their products.

    The fear is that complaining customers will start *really* bitching, if they’re not kept “under control” and not allowed to comment on your blog.

    As you point out, it’s pretty easy to recover a complaining customer — just be nice to them! work out what’s wrong and fix it — and that’s what a good company should be doing *anyway*, if it’s got any idea of decent service.

    Maybe Irish companies prefer the Ryanair model ;)

    BTW similar things happen with intellectual property, which is why so few Irish companies understand open source (apart from as a source of free software for them to leech off). In reality, good things can happen if you relax your vice-grips on control; I doubt I’d have made any kind of appreciable money from SpamAssassin by now if I hadn’t made it open source, let alone my career for the past 5 years.

    Reply
  2. Michele

    I’ve given several talks about blogging to Irish business people and a lot of them still have issues with the very concept of “the web”. They maybe interested in it, but they don’t really “get it”

    Reply
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  5. John Hunter

    I agree. The benefits of blogging far outweigh the negative possibilities. I’m sure many more people care what Seth Godin has to say than care what I say. Seth was asked if there is a social network that is good for marketers to help them do their jobs. He says: “Far and away it is having a blog. It’s tempting, if you’re a salesperson to go to Linked In…” See Seth Godin on Marketing and the Internet.

    Reply

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