(by guest blogger, Greg Carter from the Aquent’s Orange County office)
I started blogging because one of my friends suggested that it would be a useful tool to keep my writing skills in shape. I hemmed and hawed, but finally gave in, and after re-reading many of my earlier posts, I believe (hope? pray?) that I’m a much better writer than way back when. But what started out as a way to hone my skills has given me the opportunity to chronicle bits and pieces of my life, to share my views on books and movies, to post a recipe or two, and to even post a few samples of fiction.
That works for me. I like talking about different things when the mood strikes me. And being able to read the blogs of others, to catch a glimpse into their lives (and even to meet a few face to face) not just in my neighborhood, but in New York, Denver, Portland, Atlanta, Montréal, and England, to name a few, has been quite a happy bonus. I’ve never expected my blog to be more than a journal of my life. But, as authorPaul Gillin discusses in his book The New Influencers, many companies are slowly beginning to see the far-reaching impact that blogging has had on the way corporations communicate with the public.
With the growing shift to electronic media, marketers need to stay on top of new venues of communication, and blogs present the best opportunity. Take a look at almost any blog, and what you’ll find is a mini-community, with blogrolls containing links to myriad other blogs who communicate back and forth constantly. Any kind of news — good or bad — gets passed on, linked to, talked about much faster than any magazine or newspaper could have imagined.
Take, for example, AOL. Back in 2006, Vincent Ferrari had heard the rumors about the high-pressure tactics used by AOL when someone tried to cancel an account, so he decided to record his own attempt then post the recorded file on his blog. He then emailed a consumer activist site, The Consumerist. The site, in turn, published a link to his post, which soon swarmed across the blogging world and eventually into mainstream media. That small post from a single blog generated so much negative publicity that it helped to influence a change in AOL’s policies.1
And that’s just from personal blogging. Quite a few other blogs deal with a specific topic and have reader bases focused solely on such things as graphic design, Microsoft, Netflix, plant care, and so on. A smart marketer will find a way to communicate with such groups because those bloggers are passionate about that particular topic, and their readers are more likely to listen to their recommendations.
Another blogging form discussed is the corporate blog, one written and managed by a company. In one of the many Influencer Profiles peppered between chapters, Gillin describes how Microsoft used the corporate blog as a means to allow the public a glimpse into life at the personal computer giant. They seemed to realize that if they weren’t out there communicating about the company, then someone else was — and not always in a positive light. By allowing Microsoft employees to discuss their jobs or whatever moved them in such an open and public forum and by using the blogs as a way to answer questions and criticisms, Microsoft was able to slowly reverse the negative view of the company.2
So thanks to the Internet, the world really has become a much smaller place. More companies and marketers need to change with the times, and The New Influencers is the perfect guide for that, explaining how blogging (and podcasting) works, how they can be used to generate buzz about a product or to change/enhance a company’s public image, and how to get along in this new age of communication.
1. Gillin, Paul. The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media, 2nd printing. Sanger, California: Quill Driver Books, 2007. pps 1-3.
2. ibid., pps 105-112
(Yes, I did read the book myself.)