Blog Council Skepticism

    December 7, 2007

I was just reading the blogs this morning (I have a Fast Company column due and am avoiding working on it) but the news about a new blog council caught my eye. In particular, I see Dave Taylor’s response and tend to agree with him. I’m pretty skeptical. Why? Cause I’ve done enough speaking to enough corporations now that if they don’t get why they should be talking with their customers already I don’t get how hanging out at yet another boring industry conference is going to help them to get it.

And, actually, if your company needs help “getting it” then you shouldn’t be hanging out with other companies, but should be hanging out with the teams who are helping the political campaigns. Oh, sorry, I just plugged my column I wrote a while back for this month’s Fast Company.

But, seriously, here’s where corporations go wrong: they don’t get the value of seemingly unimportant conversations.

Here’s a test. Visit a Best Buy store. Now imagine that store without ANY human beings inside. What do you have? A bankrupt store.

So why when I visit don’t I see any people? Hear any conversations? Is there any wonder why Amazon has a P/E ratio much higher than Best Buy? (Amazon puts real people on its Web site — it’s ironic that an Internet focused company “gets” the value of people and their conversations better than a “brick and mortar” store does since without people a brick and mortar store would simply not exist).

Demonstrates that the industry has a LONG way to go before it understands the real value that seemingly unimportant conversations have.

Every company I’ve spoken to, from Loreal to Target to Boeing gets that you need to pay attention to the New York Times. I don’t know of a single corporation who won’t return a journalist’s phone calls from the New York Times.

But, how many companies respond to a kid in Australia who only has three readers? How many companies respond to comments made on people’s Facebook walls? How many companies meet regularly with bloggers (the BBC and Microsoft are tonight at our blogger dinner in London — no “blog council” was needed to demonstrate to them why having conversations with bloggers are important).

If this council changes THAT in any noticeable way, I’ll cheer them on. But, like Dave Taylor (who also has been around the block dealing with companies) I’m pretty skeptical.