Tagged: blogging

Why Blog Internally?

originally posted on Concept Hub

Several years after the debut of blogging, many companies are embracing internal corporate blogs for the purpose of enhancing their ability to collaborate and communicate. Internal blogs provide the advantage of rapid content delivery, ease of use, low implementation cost, and the availability of technologies such as RSS Feeds that notify employees of updates within relevant conversations.

Additional benefits of internal blogging include:

  • Improved organization collaboration and the opportunity for team learning. Internal blogs can also be ideal for running projects and working with dispersed teams.
  • An efficient means for group leaders to communicate both within their teams and with a broader company audience that would find the information being share useful for their own projects.
  • A collecting place for interpretations of different points of view, making disparate ideas available to all team members for discussion.
  • An ability to capture the collective intelligence of a team throughout a project.

There are many kinds of internal blogs throughout the corporate world, each serving a different audience and having different goals.

Knowledge Blogs
Provide employees with information and insights about the company including new, business intelligence, reports and ongoing projects with the company.

Collaboration Blogs
Provides teams or multiple teams the ability to share ideas and capture the ongoing discussions is such a way that it is easily referenced when applicable in the future.

Cultural Blogs

Builds or strengthens organizational culture through more informal content.

So why isn’t every organization blogging? There are still lots of questions and concerns about enabling such an open dialog. The best way to encourage adoption of such ideas and allowing individuals the freedom to express themselves by providing and promoting guidelines.

Such guidelines can include:

  • Appoint a champion to lead by example
  • Keep criticism constructive
  • Stay on topic
  • Clearly define the role of the blog – be sure that serves a specific need
  • Be authentic, transparent and conversational

Remember, the team was hired for their talent and intelligence – you might as well give them a place where they can have a voice.

Everybody’s Talking Part 2

originally posted on Concept Hub

When I was 18 I started waiting on tables at Bennigan’s. This surprised my family because I was not known for having an outgoing personality or coordination.

I worked at the restaurant near the Miami airport and most of our customers were from Europe and many did not speak English.

One night I was serving a table of four people who had just arrived from Germany. They did not speak English but we were able to get the drink order OK. They ordered a couple of beers and a couple of glasses of red wine. What I learned that night was that when holding a tray of drinks you should not take the heavier beer glasses off the tray first or else the tray will become unbalanced and red wine will go flying all over your guest.

I immediately and immensely apologized and began to clean the mess up. One of the other servers who witnessed that comical tragedy arrived at the table with more drinks and some soda water to attempt to clean up any stains. We made sure that their food arrived in perfect order and went on with business as usual, without continuing to make a big deal of how the experience started. At the end of the meal, the check was presented and was paid at which time I received the biggest tip of my evening. The other lesson I learned and continued to witness was that when everything went well, which was expected, my tips were average to above average. When things went horribly wrong but were handled with urgency, care, and professionalism, my tips were amazing. So it turned out to my advantage that I was not the most graceful waitress but was the most caring for my guests.

When I first started talking to my clients about blogging many people expressed the concern that if they started a blog and allowed people to comment, people would use that opportunity to express the dissatisfaction and complaints on the blog. I often would tell the story of my German guests as a way to illustrate that sometimes when things go wrong it is better than when things consistently run smoothly. People expect good service and products that work. Often times a company that is running smoothly is not appreciated. But when things go wrong, that is when you have your moment to shine.

There are a few things that a company can do to make sure that they

  1. Have comments on their blog. Without comments, there is no interaction, no conversation, and no opportunity to connect with your readers (if you even have readers).
  2. Reduce inappropriate language and spam comments.
  3. Shine when things seem to be going dark.

The ability to interact with companies on a blog is still fairly foreign to most people. For a company to start the dialog they need to write posts that spark conversations. Ask questions, request feedback, and tell stories. A blog is not the place for press releases and marketing information, those are not conversation starters. Encourage your most vocal customers and partners to post comments. Also, join in relevant conversations on other blog sites. Online communities are like any other networking opportunities, you need to mingle and get to know other people.

Remember that your blog is your space. You are inviting others to join in the conversation at your blog, but it remains your blog. Just like you have certain rules and standards for the guests you allow in your house, you should have rules and standards on your blog. Many times you can find the house rules posted on a blog, but not always. However, you should at least have an agreement of what they are within your company. If a comment crosses your boundaries of what is acceptable you have the opportunity to delete a comment and state why the comment was deleted. For example, if someone is consistently using bad language or bullying others, you can state that those comments have been deleted because of the language and explain that all ideas are welcomed as long as they are presented in a respectful way.

Be careful not to exclude someone who is commenting on your blog legitimately just because you do not agree with what they are saying. The blogosphere is an open conversation and if you toss a blogger off of your site they have the ability to take their opinions elsewhere where you may not be able to effectively defend yourself.

When a comment does turn into an opportunity to learn and exhibit professionalism, see it as such an opportunity. If someone is getting emotional and attacking you or your company, try to get to the root of their complaint and address that complaint, do not address the personal attacks. As stated in part 1 of Everybody’s Talking, let the commenter know what you are doing to handle the situation. Definitely, make sure to take the opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings. Keep in mind that the person commenting on the blog may just be one of many people who are thinking the same thing. This person is doing you a favor by starting the conversation and giving you the opportunity to clear up anything that needs to be clarified.

Most importantly keep in mind that sometimes your biggest fans are also your harshest critics.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

originally posted on Concept Hub

If you have not picked up a copy of Naked Conversations yet, I highly recommend that you do. It is a comprehensive book about the history, current trends and the evolving revolution the blogosphere is having on how businesses communicate.

The key word there is communicate, not market, not sell, not push out carefully crafted messages, but communicate.

There is a section in the book that I just read that hits all the roadblocks that companies put up with why they are not interested in blogging. The book does a decent job of addressing each one, but  I have a few more answers I would like to add. I guess instead of being FAQs (frequently asked questions) these are FACs (frequently addressed concerns).

1. Negative Comments
This is a very common concern I hear as soon as I mention the word blog. Many people immediately think of Yahoo! message boards which are often a forum for upset employees or ex-employees. This is not at all the way the blogosphere works. It is a personal log that can and should be moderated by the person or group that ‘owns’ the blog. This does not mean that negative comments should not be allowed because if someone has an issue they want to be addressed, the blogosphere is open for them to post their negative comments elsewhere. However, by allowing those posts on your site and properly addressing them, you create a sense of ownership to your product or service and you allow others who support you to come to your defense.

2. Disclosing Confidential Information
I have heard a blog post compared to an email that is cc’d to the whole world. That is a scary thought if there is the potential that it might be information you do not want released. However, the blog is just one of many forms of communication. However, it is the most open form of communication. If there is going to be a leak of information it is less likely to come out on a blog as opposed to a fax, email, or security breach. If confidential information is leaked via a blog post, a proactive company would become quickly aware and be able to take action.

3. No ROI
This is an ongoing debate for any action that supports sales efforts without being directly tied to a deal; marketing, public relations, customer support, and so forth. Blogging enables direct contact and relationship building with your target audience, while enhancing your client’s knowledge, thus shortening the sales cycle, in turn, providing an ROI.

4. Loss of Message Control
This is exactly why everyone needs to be involved in the blogosphere in one form or another. The conversations are happening with or without you. If you are not involved, you have lost control of your message or worse, your message has been lost and no one cares.

5. Competitive Disadvantage
I actually have not heard this concern too often, which is a fear of the competition reading the blog. Personally, I would think it flattering and hope to improve my competitor’s products or service thus pushing the entire industry forward.

Note that fear, uncertainty, and doubt has never helped anyone or any company to move forward.