Scott Monty

 

I recently received an email following up on a webinar that I couldn't attend. It was sponsored by KnowNow and Sphere, and they provided what I think is a decent round-up of different uses of blogs by companies, both internally and externally.

I've listed KnowNow's suggestions in blue below, with my comments are indented in black.

Internally-Focused:
  • Executive Blogs (Internal) - Allow company executives to share information with employees and encourage upward communication and feedback.
    • This could easily be the centerpiece of an internal communications program. Think of the potential when you add podcasting to the mix, so the CEO can speak directly to a large number of employees in a format longer than a voicemail.
  • Project or Implementation Specific Blogs - Provide a means for team members to collaborate on project-related issues, track status, etc.
  • Competitive Intelligence Blogs - capture and collaborate on market and competitive intelligence.
  • Knowledge Management/Portal Replacement Blogs - These blogs can be used as a means for more easily sharing information with a large group of people. The advantage here is that business users don’t need to go through IT just to post something on their portal (and people can more easily comment or provide feedback)
    • An internal wiki would allow you to do the same thing. A resource such as pbWiki makes this a hassle-free and much more robust solution.
  • Sales Blogs - Allows sales reps an easy way to share best practices and information.
  • Product Development Blogs - Allow developers and other stakeholders to provide feedback and suggest new ideas.
  • Community of Practice Blogs - These focus on facilitating discussion amongst individuals on a specific technical or functional topic area.



Externally-Focused:
  • Executive Blogs (External) - Company executives can share information with customers, partners, etc and solicit feedback.
  • Product/Brand Blogs - Allow product management or marketing dept to facilitate customer “conversation” about products, brand, etc.
    • The company that really wants to stand out will take customers' comments and feedback, share it it with the product development team, and then tell the customers about improvements/changes made to the product because of their input.
  • Media Relations/PR Blogs - Keep a dialog with members of the media about company happenings.
    • Great, but keep it fresh. The last thing journalists need is repeats of press releases. If you'd like to try something interesting, post a short audio clip with unique content as part of a blog posting that supports a press release. When you see media mentions of the content that was only available in the audio clip, you know they're engaging.
  • Market Research Blogs - Give customers a place to suggest and give feedback on new ideas or novel uses for your products or services
    • This is somewhat of a cross-over from the product blog, but again, if they give feedback, be sure to act upon it, even if it's to tell them that you've considered their idea but it won't work. Customers like to be acknowledged.
  • Customer Support Blogs - Allow customers to ask questions and provide feedback, as well as share tips or insights with each other.
  • Sales and Partner Network Blogs - Companies with non-competing sales or distribution networks can share experiences and information easily across firewalls.

Some things I recommend you take into account if you're developing an internal blog:
  1. Determine who will be the administrator. A single individual should own the overall look, feel and infrastructure of the site and be responsible for any technology "tweaks" and improvements
  2. Decide who will author the blog. Many times, these small blogs will require more than one voice or expert. Figure out if you want to give your team more than the ability to comment on entries.
  3. Meet as a team to review the fundamentals and guidelines. You should ensure that everyone is comfortable with the technology and understands why you're using it. If you don't have complete buy-in from the entire team, you might as well not have a blog. Do they understand RSS and feedreaders? Do they know how to comment/post/edit?
  4. Give your team choices. RSS feed button or email subscription? BOTH! Maybe they are Outlook whizzes and prefer to get emails. That's fine. But let them decide what works best for them.
  5. Solicit and act upon feedback. You're developing this blog to support your team. Make sure you circle back with them and see how it's working. If there are features or content on it that are of no use to the team, consider thinning it down. If they leave comments about the blog itself, take the time to reply to them.
Finally, if you're using a blog for project management, a sales team, or another small group, I would recommend also setting up your group on Twitter. It's a microblogging platform that will enable you to share thoughts in real-time, over the Web, phone or IM.

That's about it here. Did I miss something? I'd be interested to know if you've got any experience with other uses of blogs, either internally or externally.

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