Business Risks With Blogging: A Conversation
How much can you say in your corporate blog … A reader contacted me to get my view on this question.
It’s not an easy one and I guess many bloggers think about it more or less daily.
Here’s our short discussion. What can you add?
Since the reader contacted me privately I wont reveal who he is or what company he works for, other than that it’s a software company. And it probably doesn’t matter. It’s a general question.
We’ve toyed with the idea of creating a corporate blog for some time but just can’t pinpoint what sort of content belongs there. In an ideal world I would love to be as open as possible in a corporate blog – discussing development strategies as well as business processes – all couched in a “small business atmosphere”, since that’s what [our company] is.
But, as I visualize writing posts in my head, I always bump into the same concern (perhaps it’s merely paranoia) — revealing too much. I could see this working against us with competitors in particular (we all know we watch each other carefully), but also with prospective customers or even existing customers. How much do we want to reveal about how we do things (which I do believe people would find interesting and generally valuable information), knowing that the information could be used against us?
It is a hard question in many ways, I understand your concerns. But in theory it’s simple. You know your business model, your products/services and your competition better than anyone else. You know, I believe, pretty well what your competition could use against you.
You don’t have to say “We’re going to solve problem X this way” and then work for a while to do it. You can say “The entire business know problem X – we’re going to solve it. We have some ideas – what do you think?”
It would not only be safer, it would probably be more interesting for both prospects and existing clients. And you could actually get important feedback and solve the problem in an even better way.
Now, I know I’m making it a bit too easy for myself in this answer. There are certainly things you’d like to say that would reveal things about your plans, level of expertise, client satisfaction etc.
And this is exactly the point where you need to believe in transparency and authenticity. Or not.
From my experience, it’s much less dangerous to be open than most of us thinks. Is it the end of the world if an unhappy client comments on your blog? Well, it depends on how you deal with that point of view. Handled seriously you strengthen your credibility. I don’t think that the fear of a software buyer is that there might be problems. Rather, we count on it. Our fear is that no one will help us when they occur.
A client of mine in the transportation business wrote in his blog a few months ago that they were going to install alcohol detectors in their trucks. This is something that could be interpreted as if they had problems (which they hadn’t). But it wasn’t interpreted that way. On the contrary, it generated a lot of medial exposure correctly portraying them as a responsible company, and a leader in the process to improve road safety.
Openness often has that kind of effect.
Thank you for the comments. Transparency and openness are worthwhile efforts, but I think many in the corporate world will hesitate quite a bit at this point. I’ve read a ton about business blogs but I think it’s going to take a long time before they catch on.
Having said that I am pushing forward with an internal, “client-only” blog.
I’m designing it in such a way as to generate (hopefully) more two-way dialogue with existing customers. So, it’s less of a marketing tool (although I do hope it will turn more clients into evangelists), and more of a communication tool at this stage. I’ll be posting information about my product and company, […]. In general I can see the “customer blog” being more readily accepted by businesses, more easy to prepare and launch and maintain.
In many respects this is a test run – we’ll see if my customer blog/portal works and then perhaps expand it to a blog for the rest of the world.
I wish you good luck!
Fredrik Wacka is the author and founder of the popular CorporateBlogging.Info blog which is a guide to business and corporate blogging.
Visit Fredrik Wacka’s blog: CorporateBlogging.Info.