How corporate can corporate blogging be?

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Six_degreesRecently I’ev helped colleagues do research on new numbers about the blogosphere. Figures that are not so easily found, since the blogosphere is constantly evolving. In March 2007 Technorati tracked 70 mio. blogs (not nescesarily active blogs). Estimates tell, that every second 1.4 blogs open worldwide. The blogosphere is more than a 100 times bigger than in 2003. And today the estimated post frequency is 17 per second. (Click on illustration to see ‘Why Blogging Matters’!)

Numbers on corporate blogging are challenging to estimate; A reason is that many corporate blogs start-off as company intern blogs that, if they have the potential, might go public later on. Those are not easily tracked. But online lists and wikis on corporate blogs are being developed at different sites. Like the one by TheNewPR/Wiki. Or like this wiki by Social Square on professional blogs in Denmark. And blogspotting is a competitive field, where different experts demonstrates different tracking skills.

In October 2004 Technorati tracked around 5000 American corporate blogs. Today around 10% of the Fortune 500 are blogging (some find the Fortune 500 list to undercount, and find TheNewPR/Wiki to be more accurate, see this article from BusinessWeek). TheNewPR/Wiki counts that by March this year 274 CEOs are blogging. But numbers tell that eg. 2.000 employees at IBM are blogging, and even 2.500 at Microsoft. So, if including the company intern blogs, the numbers must be rather sky-high.   

Balancing corporate governance of organizational blogs
My friend, who works with New Media at another agency (none mentioned, none forgotten!) and I shared a too short but really interesting conversation this week on corporate blogging: My friend telling me, that their corporate blog was launched full of good intentions. But is now slowly dying because of its, in my friend’s opinion, too corporate concept; there are many restrictions on the bloggers, and personal angles on posts are not too welcome. My friend sees radical corporate demands on blogs as contrasting the very essence of what a good, living blog is. And this has been a turn-off and has taken the live and blog-engagement out of their corporate blog.  At least that’s my friend’s qualified experience.

(Click to read joke)           The_joy_of_tech When introducing something new like a corporate blog, its understandable that leaders might wish to stay in control of how it evolves – but, like Nikolaj S. points out when talking about organizational blogging, since those leaders have chosen to hire their employees and provide them with a phone line and email account, trust in the employees’ communication skills on behalf of the cooperation has already taken place… So personality (not to be confused with ‘very personal’ og private) in a blog post can be a tool of engagement; for the blogger as well as the reader and the commentator. Turn-on and tune in! – in stead of turn-off and turn out…

But the balance between personal and corporate (like that of private and public) can still be a challenging one when launching and introducing a corporate blog, at least ’till the new bloggers and management find confidence in this medium and way of communicating. And in DK, we (and Danish cooperations) are still far behind of what is a rather mainstream thing in eg. United States: Blogging.

Success parametres in corporate blogging
I find a blog-theme to be one qualified parameter of success, also since the blog is strong in narrowcasting, as well as personality, a strong sense of ‘NOW’ (presence and topical) and the ability to turn on engagement from the world around you through your blog, that being a social media.

Blogs have a build in element that tricks voyerism, which, if managed with considered thought and paired with authenticity, can do all good for a corporate blog – as well as for the organizational culture and public face of the cooperation, strengthening its display with a touch of personality, that many stakeholders demand of companies today – eg. future employeees, but also clients and product fans.

A blogger that really enjoys blogging is another simple but important key to launch a successful blog! So, management should also be vary not to turn-off the blog-engagement by too heavy corporate governance on the organizational blog.

The interesting thing is, that blogging, now being more constituted, is developing as its own genre – where styles, lengths on posts and purposes and perspectives on blogging are being discussed worldwide, also in blogs on blogs, meta-blogs. And the development, exploring and challenging of this new genre in communication and writing is really interesting to participate in! I mean; there Blog_dodd_4are many ways to write a great poem – like there is writing a blog. And just ‘cus you are excellent in writing novels or journalism, you will not necessarily do good in writing poetry – or blog posts…Or maybe the cool thing about 2.0 blogging is, that it is really for everyone to do?! – though some talk critically about the 2.0 ‘pollution’ of and by www, like author Andrew Keen in his recent book "The Cult of the Amateur", just reviewed by K-forum in this article: ‘Al magt til amatøren?’ (Power to the amateur?).

What do you think? Do you have a favorite style within blogging? What do you find to be a key to success in corporate blogs? And how corporate do you think corporate blogging can be?