Category: Business blogging

They work inside too!

Too much of the discussion on social media (blogs/podcasts, wikis, etc.) in the enterprise revolves around outward facing tools and not enough mention is made of the advantages of using these tools internally.

I met an Enterprise Ireland rep yesterday and his take on business blogs was that they were for client communications. And that is one powerful use of them.

However, social media can be as powerful, if not moreso, when used on the company Intranet.

If you have a dispersed workforce (either geographically or spatially within a large building) blogs serve as a powerful tool for sharing stories (knowledge).

Facilities managers, for example, can share stories of how a particular aircon configuration saves them a ton on energy costs. This can be quickly seen and emulated by other facilities managers within an organisation. Similarly for all other job roles within a company.

This ensures employees showcase their expertise and helps them become an authority on a particular function within their company.

Blogs are also very powerful for building personal networks and communities of like-minded individuals and the discussions which arise out of these raises the company’s IQ.

Similarly for podcasting internally. Internal podcasts are a fantastic way of sharing knowledge (war stories), for demonstrating expertise,  and for bringing people together.

Finally, internal podcasts and blogs are a nice easy way for companies to dip their toes into the Web 2.0 waters before they go down the public-facing route.

Irish Blog Awards nominations

I’m both deeply honoured and humbled to have been nominated for several Irish Blog Awards.

The competition is stiff and I am up against many more deserving blogs/podcasts than my own.

Judge for yourself – listed below are the categories in which I have been nominated (twice in the best podcast category). I have italicised my listings in the categories so you can identify them more easily.

Best Contribution to the Irish Bloggersphere:

Best Technology Blog/Blogger:

Best Podcaster:

Best Podcast :

Jason has a complete list of all the award categories and nominees here.

The voting form is online here. If you haven’t done so already, I urge you to head on over and vote (you don’t have to be Irish to vote in the awards).

March 3rd (the night of the awards) promises to be a great night. Well done Damien, once more.

World champion blogger?

I was on NewsTalk 106 again yesterday evening. This time with I was on the Technology for the Rest of us slot with George Hook and Karlin Lillington.

What I didn’t realise going to the interview, was that this was the launch of NewsTalk in Cork and so they had along local politicians, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, CEOs of many local companies, Denis O’Brien, NewsTalk’s owner and Elaine Geraghty, CEO of NewsTalk. The interview was being broadcast from the Sheraton hotel, in Fota Island in front of this live audience, as well as all the station’s listeners!

What really threw me though, was when George Hook introduced me as “World Champion blogger, Tom Raftery”!

I managed to get a correction in but not before George used the term again several times. Mortification!

Busy couple of days

I have a busy couple of days ahead – expect light posting.
– today I have a couple of CIX-related sales meetings
– I have an it@cork pre-conference podcast with Eddie Hobbs to edit and publish
– tomorrow I have several meetings in Dublin followed by the Netvisionary Awards night
– Friday I have an early morning (6:50 am) flight to Brussels for the Microsoft Belgium gig followed by a blogger’s dinner in Belgium
– Saturday, I fly back to Cork (wohoo!) through Dublin (d’oh! – I despise Dublin airport)
– phew!

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?

Where are the Irish Business Blogs?

In my excitement at being shortlisted for the Netvisionary awards and in coming quite high in Justin’s Technorati-ranked Top 100 Irish blogs, I missed something fundamental – the fact that I am doing well is a very poor reflection on the state of business blogging in Ireland.

What do I mean? Well, one of the things I do on a daily basis is consult to companies on Social Media (blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc.) and their potential as tools for collaboration and communication. Yet, looking through Justin’s ranked list of Irish blogs the first business blog* I spotted was Ice Cream Ireland in 56th place! That’s an indictment of my work and an indicator of the lack of business blogs in Ireland.

We ran a very successful five week Business Blog Training course in it@cork in September and October. We are considering running another because there is a demand and the feedback for the last one was so good.

Hopefully efforts like this will mean that the Netvisionary Blogger category will have business blogs in the shortlist next year and not geeks like me!

*Business blog in the sense that the blog was set up to help promote a business (Murphy’s Ice Cream in this case).

Blogs fuel internet growth

Netcraft have posted their November 2006 Web Server Survey and there are a couple of interesting findings.

The main one is that the number of websites has exceeded 100m for the first time ever.

In the November 2006 survey we received responses from 101,435,253 sites, up from 97.9 million sites last month.

Of those 100m sites 27.4m were added this year alone! In fact, according to Netcraft, the Internet has doubled in size since May 2004, when it reached 50m sites.

Netcraft credits blogs with helping this growth:

Blogs and small business web sites have driven the explosive growth this year, with huge increases at free blogging services at Google and Microsoft.