Refreshingly blunt – the newest euphemism in the blogosphere

I am sure all of you followed the Scoble-Shel-Werner controversy on the issue of corporate blogging. If you missed it, here is the approx. timeline – Scoble1Shel2Werner3, Nick Carr jumped in with his refreshingly blunt concept4, Scoble5, Slashdot6. It got very entertaining with several comments logged on these posts and many other respected bloggers joining in including Rick Segal, Sadagopan and others.

Now I haven’t read the book Naked Conversations and I wasn’t there at the infamous Amazon meeting, but there are a few key points that I want to throw into the mix.

1. I had not expected to see the dreaded devil’s advocate gambit to be played out in public, only a week since I talked about it. To ask for the ROI is the classic nip-the-idea-in-the-bud strategy. Very few idea makers come to the table with ROI calculations done. Anyway, if the ROI has been calculated and its proven beyond doubt that there is money, what is the big deal in making the decision to start blogging. It takes a different mindset to adopt something that is yet to be proven beyond doubt and make something out of it.

2. I think the Amazon Connect program is brilliant and I have no doubt that it has been influenced by the idea of blogging which implies that Amazon does understand blogging. However, I think there are a few things about corporate blogging that Amazon has probably missed and  it did not get much air time from the commentators as well – the one that Hugh Macleod calls “punching holes in the porous membrane“.

3. Typically, when we think of communications to the outer world, it is strictly controlled by the Corporate Communications department or PR department and of course everything has to be reviewed by legal. Other than this only the sales and customer service people tak to the clients and is usually around a specific thing. Now blogging blows a hole right through this and lets the employees talk directly to the world. Yes, there are risks (see link to Nick Carr and Vinnie below). But the benefits far outweigh the risks, if done well.  

4. What about the coverage of Amazon’s CRM strategy? How often does an ordinary Amazon customer like me get a call from an Amazon employee. But is there a way for Amazon to build a relationship with me and influence me cost effectively- Blogging could be a way.  Although it is useful, I don’t count the book recommendations churned out by the computer as a personal touch or as a relationship.  Now one may ask, can’t a group email do that (which Amazon does do from time to time)? The problem is, as Scoble/Shel would say its not humanizing, because it does not allow the personality of your employees to come through as blogging may help them do. Now given enough types of personalities coming through to cover the myriad customer/prospect personalities out there, you may get something going here – expanding the coverage of your customer relationship management strategy.  I, for one, would be very curious to understand more about Amazon’s Category Managers – which books do they read, how do they decide which books to promote,  which authors do they like. Amazon Connect or Plogs or Blog Snooping or whatever else Amazon has got going, none of it is designed to connect employees of Amazon with the community.

5.  Another important aspect of blogging is that its a marathon not a sprint. For instance, take the case of Macromedia (now part of Adobe), which entered the blogosphere in 2002 amidst a lot of hoopla per Wired.  Out of the 5 bloggers that were referred to (John Dowdell, Mike Chambers, Matt Brown, Vernon Viehe and Bob Tartar), only 2 of them are still active – John Dowdell and Mike Chambers. What impact would it have on customers when they come to your corporate blog site and find dead blogs?


1. Cluetrain Manifesto. Its an excellent document. At a minimum read the 95 themes mentioned on this page.

2. Links subvert hierachy – Interesting discussion between Doc Searls, Dave Rogers and Mark Bernstein.

3. Nick Carr’s 7 Rules for Corporate Blogging. This is a must read for anyone contemplating business blogging. Also read his follow-on post on this topic.

4. Vinnie adds another good link on legal matters. Must read.