Monday, March 20, 2006

Blogs: Avoid a common problem

I caught an interesting article in the Portland Business Journal last week (online, I live in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania) that talked about how businesses were missing out on the many advantages of corporate blogs. I certainly agree with that! One of the reasons cited in the article was that most companies don't like hosting negative comments about thier products and services on their own websites. Who could blame them?

The blogging experts quoted in the article come from Marqui Inc., a firm local to Portland that sells software to automate corporate communications, including a blogging tool, according to the publication. Janet Johnson is vice president of communications for that company. She is quoted in the article:


Johnson has plenty of experience with the uncontrollable nature of the blogosphere. When Marqui announced late in 2004 that it was paying bloggers, "we were called 'pond scum,'" said Johnson.

Though it was shocking to read such negative comments -- they felt like a personal attack, Johnson said -- she and other Marqui executives decided that since they chose to blog, they had to post all comments, whether they liked them or not.
Marqui calls it "letting the communication happen" and while that is one of the best things about blogs in general, it's not the way we recommend companies handle this communication tool.

Never let posts hit your blog without reviewing them in advance. What consumers say about your company in other places may be beyond your control, but the corporate blog is not the place to let your competitors and their best clients punch holes in your key marketing messages.

Encourage blog feedback via e-mail. Let readers know that, just like the newspaper, their comments may be edited before publication. Be sure to respond to everyone that sends a response and do your best to publish both sides of any issue on the blog. If the content appears to be one-sided, readers will abandon it and it will be of no use to the company.

Never give up control of a marketing tool as powerful as the corporate blog just because you feel you owe it to others in the conversation. There are better ways to keep people reading your important messages.