5th March 2007

Does your company support employee blogging?

To blog or not to blog?  That is the question.

Do you know a company still having this debate? (are YOU a company still having this debate?)

Beyond the borders of companies that have embraced communities, I hear this debate about blogging all the time.  There are usually a couple of common objections to employee blogging:

1)  Productivity - My employees have full time jobs, I can’t afford to have them out blogging.

2)  Quality - Are you crazy - content unscrubbed by marketing?

3)  Legal - Are you crazy - content unscrubbed by legal?

4)  Over transparency?

Just so we’ve covered it, let’s talk briefly about these objections.  The first two are largely emotional, but the 3rd can really stop you in your tracks.  The 4th is one you need to debate internally and be intentional about.

Productivity:  How to even begin with this legacy thinking?  What could possibly be more important than having your employees engage in conversations with the people that use your products and/or services.  Are you kidding me?  I’m keeping this one simple, but I can’t believe how much I’ve heard this.  If this sounds familiar, I’m sorry - maybe my post on insights can help.  I’m actually waiting to be challenged on this one in my own role - I will let you know if it happens.  I know people will wonder, how can Sean have time to do all this blogging AND his day job with driving community work at Microsoft?  Perhaps some of my own employees may even wonder?  My simple response is the same…what is more important than the insights I can gather externally to help guide our thinking around communities.  How do you ensure you step out of silo’d thinking that assumes we already know what we need to know?  This is part of my "thinking time" - something everyone, especially business leaders, should make sure they do more of.

Quality:  Fair enough, but unrealistic.  The world is already authoring content about you, your products, your policies, etc and search engines are of who authored it.  You need to participate in this.  You have an opportunity here to change and personalize your "corporate voice."  This is nothing but positive.  Stop scrubbing content and using corporate marketing "speak."  It’s time for your customers to really know you, which means knowing your people.  Let go….. Further, there is an economic case here the "bean counters" (sorry finance:)) will like.  Depending on the business you’re in, authoring content is a tough part of the business.  There are always gaps, you can’t localize fast enough.  It doesn’t cover a broad enough set of topics.  It’s written for the wrong type of user.  By allowing blogging, more of your employees from much more diverse perspectives can participate in this creation.  You’re taking the first step to open sourcing your content and knowledge - (don’t get excited, your not done…you have to push this farthur to user to user voices embraced on your properties).

Legal:  This is the toughest one…and legal is not totally wrong.  Do not do this without legal, that would be a serious mistake.  But, remember, the job of legal (my opinion) is to tell you HOW to do things…not just to tell you NOT to do things!!  See the assumptive close for a refresher.  They have genuine concerns about how IP gets shared and how IP is gathered.  What outward facing guidance is "vetted" (you indemnify) and what is user to user advice.  These issues need to be worked through, but the point is they are resolvable.

Over transparency:  Is there such a thing as too much transparency?  Actually, yes there is.  Remember, you may know the difference between brain storming and commitments, but your readers may not.  Talking about futures when futures are uncertain may create implied expectations that you simply cannot meet.  This is unfair to you and unfair to your users.  This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about futures, but you need to be smart about this and not make implied commitments that you can’t deliver (your company can’t deliver).  In being more transparent, you will gain the trust of your users, but implied commits you can’t deliver leads to distrust - so discuss openly inside your organization what those guidelines need to be and then live with the policy.

Note:  For tips to overcome, go back to Convincing the Unconverted, Parts 1 -4.

I came across many helpful links on guides/tips for corporate blogging on the Diva Marketing Blog I wanted to share…Thanks Diva!!

Also, a "shout out" to Shel at a shel of my former self who also posted this week on the flaws and risks of corporate blogging.  Appropriate props to those he also cross referenced:  Kami Huyse and Randish who have lots of great insights on this topic.   Interesting the topic struck each of us around the same time.

Any of this sound familiar?  What objections do you hear?


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This entry was posted on Monday, March 5th, 2007 at 3:34 pm and is filed under Blogging, Business Strategy, General Community Discussion, Social Media, web 2.0. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 17 responses to “Does your company support employee blogging?”

Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

  1. 1 On March 5th, 2007, Dick Kusleika said:

    Re Transparency: So don’t talk about the future. Transparency doesn’t necessarily mean tipping your competition or promising the world to your users. Transparency can also mean talking about the past. Telling me how you decided to put 1 million rows in Excel is just as interesting as telling me what’s coming in the next version. Telling me about the decision to make leather interior standard on this year’s car is just as interesting as telling me what you’re doing for next year’s model. People are interested in what goes inside Microsoft and Toyota and Boeing and etc. Whether it happened six months ago or six years ago. It doesn’t have to be trade secrets and future plans. Even if you realize this, transparency is still hard, but it’s manageable.

  2. 2 On March 5th, 2007, Toby said:

    Sean - thanks for the shout out and your kind words about Diva Marketing. I would also add to your list - many people consider social media to be a credible business strategy. If they saw value other concerns would be addressed as strategy was developed. We’ve come a long way .. but still have miles to go.

  3. 3 On March 6th, 2007, Sean ODriscoll said:

    Thanks for the comments!

    Great point Dick, I totally agree. There is a big opportunity to include your users not just in the decision process, but in informing them of how or why you made the decisions you did. They may or may not agree, but understanding the reasons is key to building trust through transparency…great addition to this…Thanks!


  4. 4 On March 7th, 2007, Mukund Mohan said:

    At a previous company, few select people were allowed to blog. Obviously this created a new seperation of “haves” and “have nots”. The rules were not arbitrary, but there was a general fear of “who knows what they will say?”.

    Most companies are worried about the “perception” of their brand than any other item including legal. Its a nuance on your quality point, but it is a valid concern that can be addressed.

  5. 5 On March 7th, 2007, Sean ODriscoll said:

    It is a fair concern, but you are right, it needs to be addressed. You remind me of a discussion at a company once where they talked about hiring contigent resources to start blogging as a way to create buzz - of course our response was NOOOOO! The big part of the value of the company blog is the credibility and the consistency of the personality behind it. Contingent come and go by nature - if you are going to do it as part of a business strategy - you need to commit to it long term.


  6. 6 On March 11th, 2007, Corrine said:

    A lot depends on the nature of the company. Look at Microsoft, for example, where I believe blogging has had an incredibly positive impact. What you say about Legal is true that it has to be the toughest obstacle. There has to be training on what information can be provided so there isn’t inadvertent disclosure of details that would jeopardize intellectual property rights.

    Last evening my friend Bill Pytlovany (WinPatrol) wrote . Should companies be concerned about libel suits resulting from an inappropriate “slip of the tongue” by an employee in a company or company-supported blog?

    Another aspect to consider is the ramifications of an employee blogging on a non-company sponsored blog during company time and using company resources.

  7. 7 On March 11th, 2007, Sean ODriscoll said:

    ha ha…like my blog:)

    I read the bits from bill…interesting issue. Lots here to be tested. I’m proud that msft has taken and an aggresive, pro-blogging stance. But it is not without its risks and depending on your company/industry it might be more or less tolerable. To your point - training and planning are necessary. I will always argue from the position that it is net positive and legal needs to be involved in setting guidance on how to blog vs rigedly standing behind a “thou shalt not blog” position.


  8. 8 On March 11th, 2007, Enrique Dans said:

    Hi Sean! Thanks for dropping by my place! I just translated parts of the article into Spanish and added my own experience about it - I’m a professor in a Spanish business school and also also sort of an evangelist about corporate blogging in Spain, so I happened to understood your four points pretty well… You are absolutely right, I’ve experienced each and every one of them! :-)

  9. 9 On March 11th, 2007, b-Make - Blog de Marketing, Publicidad e Internet » Blog de Marketing y Publicidad » ¿Deben bloggear los empleados? said:

    […] el blog de Enrique Dans aparece este post traducido de este otro de Community Group Therapy. No sé si me ha guustado más la brillantez o la sencillez del planteamiento, pero es natural que […]

  10. 10 On March 11th, 2007, Sean said:

    Enrique: check out http://mvp.support.microsoft.com/communities/mvp.aspx?adv=1

    Here you can search for all MVPs in Spain. You might be interested in connecting with some of these outstanding local community leaders. You can read a bit more about them at that site and here: https://communitygrouptherapy.com/2007/03/07/microsoft-mvp-summit-just-days-away/


  11. 11 On March 11th, 2007, Bitassa a lloure - Blog de Benjamí Villoslada » El valor del temps per bloguejar said:

    […] a donar la raó a l’Enrique Dans que avui tracta això mateix al seu blog, donant la raó a Sean O’Driscoll: 1. Productividad: “mis empleados ya tienen un trabajo a tiempo completo, no puedo permitirme que […]

  12. 12 On March 12th, 2007, Blogging empresarial « Alejandro Maceira said:

    […] , Blogs , Marketing , Web 2.0  El gurú Enrique Dans encuentra y comenta este post de Sean O´Driscoll de Microsoft sobre la conveniencia de que los empleados de una empresa se dediquen a […]

  13. 13 On April 10th, 2007, governance » Corporate Blogs. said:

    […] la entrada de Sean O’ Driscoll, de Microsoft, el cual plantea la cuestión sobre que empleados de compañías escriban en […]

  14. 14 On May 15th, 2007, governance (com) » Corporate Blogs. said:

    […] la entrada de Sean O’ Driscoll, de Microsoft, el cual plantea la cuestión sobre que empleados de compañías escriban en […]

  15. 15 On July 27th, 2007, "To Blog or not to Blog" Part II « Community Group Therapy said:

    […] 27th, 2007 A few months ago I blogged about Blog policy in “Does your company support employee blogging” - for some reason that post struck a cord and was picked up quite a bit by others.  As […]

  16. 16 On September 16th, 2007, A Blog Policy does not a Blog Strategy make… « Community Group Therapy said:

    […] Does your company support employee blogging? […]

  17. 17 On November 16th, 2007, A guide for those that are new to this blog… : Community Group Therapy said:

    […] Does your company support Employee Blogging? […]

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