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Looks interesting. One of the undercurrents to your points is the lack of trust people have in companies and marketing. People want to peek under the hood and kick the proverbial tires more than they did before. This makes corporate blogging a challenge - how honest do you want to be (your Tesco example fits right in here).

People are also more used to getting the inside scoop. Tabloid journalism and reality TV have set an expectation that "something is up" and they want to know about it.

thinking about it Dan might have said "nike discovered the power of its own voice". 'Its' not 'their'. I always struggle with that different American approach to the grammer of collectives.

It would be interesting to hear about how a blog allows you to incrementally build something - rather like you are doing with this presentation and with ebcb.

I like the way you can throw ideas and thoughts out and see how people respond. You don't need to be right all the time, you don't need to have the answer but you do need to be interesting.

People can then build and develop those thoughts and ideas in a way that couldn't happen if you had just written them down in a notebook or mentioned them in a meeting. I suppose this is about using a blog as a greenhouse for ideas and touches on other points like permanence and enabling the long tail.

To Mark's point - the Yankelovich Marketing Resistance Survey in the states suggests that 76% of consumers disagree with the statement that "Companies tell the truth in ads"

So trust is a big win for blog - people are more likely to trust something on a brand's site than in broadcast media for some reason.

The other brilliant thing about having a conversation is the listening part - it's like getting free market research: you're biggest fans and biggest haters are the ones who will be there getting involved in the conversation.

And to Paul's point - yeah! Open source your brand. Product innovation, comms thinking etc - ask your interlocutors.

O wait, you already are, aren't you Russell ;)

Re Faris' first point. I'm not convinced that people are more likely to trust a company blog than their 'advertising'/broadcast. Or shall I say not convinced that the survey you cite allows us to infer that conclusion.

It's the measuring that's the problem. If you put the question to people as a truth proposition: 'ads tell the truth' true or false, it's immediately provocative. Of course people will say no - no one wants to be the marketeer's mug. But then we all know the subtle triggers and little effects advertising/broadcast/and indeed blogs can have on our opinions of things. So people might don't want to say 'I believe everything Honda say about silent Diesel' they're also probably pretty susceptible to 'the power of dreams'.

But now I'm just going off Russell's point...

Great points from everyone.

Some other stuff I might add: a blog forces you to commit to saying something, to take a stand, to have an opinion. I forget who said it, but someone smart said that brands need to worry less about having a point of difference and more about having a point of view.

This makes you more interesting, but it also makes you more likely to be occasionally wrong or to say something someone might disagree with. Which most companies could do with a bit more of. It helps remove two things which suck about many companies: hubris on one end of the spectrum, and a fear of doing anything unless it's been researched to death on the other.

I guess this ties into your point about being more human.

Blogs are like chopsticks

you have to spend a bit of time getting used to using them.

but once you get the knack

it opens up a whole new perspective on how things can be done!

Knew I should have gone to lunch!

I think a blog is like... a really easy way for non techies to put words and pictures on the interweb.

So that enables everyone (and anyone) to have a say, quickly and cheaply (ie without waiting a month for an expensive agency to do it). Which means that blogs have more chance of being zeitgeisty and therefore more chance of being relevant.

Maybe zeitgeisty isn’t the right adjective, but it’s a nice sounding word.

I love Jason's comment about a blog forcing you to have a point-of-view. This may fit under the controversial slide of 'A blog is not for everyone' (which clearly goes against your other points and may provide a mid-afternoon twist). You could proceed to list all the things any self-respecting marketer would claim they desire: a brand with a POV, a brand that speaks to people as humans rather than purchasers of products, a brand that doesn't fear transperancy, a brand that focuses on long-term relationships rather than short-term sales, and a brand that is willing to invest effort beyond traditional channels.

All making sense to me so far.

Blogs are like... therapists?
(Some are great and really help, others can fuck you up royally - not that i've been in therapy, right)

As for the different voices of blogs perhaps the holy grail is actually around the voice of the community. That's not to say that the author isn't key. But where I think most brands would love to be, is in a position where they're only doing some of the work and the community is actively engaged and generating stuff too. At least that should be what they're striving for I reckon.

Me again. Something else I noticed... you seem to be getting at two different types of reasons for a brand to blog.

One is external (engage with your customers, build a community) and the other is more internal (as an instructor to get your voice right and help learn about what's important in marketing 2.0). Of course, the second one helps you get to the first, but it raises an interesting question (interesting to me, at least).

What is the measure of success of a brand blog? Is it external or internal? I'm sure many companies will apply their old "mass reach" filter to blogging: if there's no traffic it's a failure. But could it be successful just for the internal reasons, like getting your voice right and making you see the world differently, even if nobody shows up?

If a brand blogs in the forest, and no one is there to see it...

A couple of months ago there was a big debate/argument between the CTO of Amazon, Werner Vogels, and two of the biggest evangelists of weblogs (Robert Scoble and Shel Israel of Naked Conversations fame).

Vogels basically challenged these two to provide good reasons for Amazon to have a weblog, his argument being that if a company has other ways of eliciting feedback, or inviting consumers into the business, a weblog wasn't necessary.

Apart from demanding hard 'data-driven' evidence for the necessity of weblogs (which may or may not be important to number-crunching decision-makers), Vogels did bring up a good point, in demanding a little more rigour in justifying weblogs for business.

Like everyone, I hate the idea of just nodding in agreement that weblogs="human voice", because it can quite easily be just another form of bullshit (and as Rebecca said in the comments, they're probably not any more likely to trust a weblog than other communications anyway).

One way to approach this is to consider the positive difference that a weblog can make in terms of what it allows a brand to do, that other things can't do (like customer feedback platforms, or the many ways a company like Amazon involves customers).

For instance, as a continually updated and evolving platform, it does allow for a "throw it against the wall and see what sticks approach" as paul wilson said, and I think that is a great point. Only a weblog can do this well, much better than a newsletter for instance.

The lists on the sidebars are also a great communication device, to make the brand marriages (a la John Grant) and affiliations more explicit and public. For instance, partnerships, or causes the brand believes or invests in. The fact that these can evolve and change also allows for the brand to be less static.

This is another way to look at weblogs as doing more than the fuzzy idea of making brands more human.

Brands will find a POV but it'll be something like 'we believe strongly that our generic value delivers our genric benefit consistently" - just look at brand websites today. i hate to suggest this as its another a brand essence fav but passion is even more important than a POV. Brands need to find a passion that they can share with their mass audience; McVities or PG tips should have started anicecupofteandasitdown, whiskers should have started catsinsinks. Revelation is also good in blogworld; the NHS should be paying for neenaw, the ambulance service behind-the-scenes blog, to help cut time waster calls and give people an idea of what really goes on with the emergency services. Brands could also start crusades - a fast delivery brand could have started waiterrant (the fly-on-the wall waitstaff blog) to remind readers that hell is other people and its so much better to stay in and eat. Blogs are where brands can acknowledge their wider context and if they want to, create new contexts by finding new passions and obsessions to share.

Looks good so far!

How about also mentioning blogs that fans write? Like http://mcchronicles.blogspot.com/

Brands should reach out and embrace these folks, but in our experience, most do not.

To Bex - you are right - i was thinking about some Planetfeedback research that says people trust your website more than your telly ad - but not sure if that was robust.

Anyway. Brands should be telling the truth in the first place ;)


Blogs are trampolines - everyone can have a go, most people don't.

You lot are brilliant. many, many thanks, it's this kind of conversation that makes presentations better. Arthur and I are watching Mickey, Donald and Goofey in The Three Musketeers and then I'm going to start in on the next draft. You've given me lots of think about.

(Though I'm tempted to not turn up to the thing and just point everyone at these comments.)

Since I started my blog I have had quite a few really great guys fall in love with me. I was approached to take the job of my dreams. I am a nicer, calmer person on the street. Writing a blog has made me spiritually and materially richer.

The thing that first hooked me on blogs was the links - you run your cursor over a highlighted word and go to the relevant reference. That makes them trustworthy.

Plus there's the concept of the company you keep. Oops there's the door.

Don't turn up and just point everyone at these comments.

Don't know if you've seen this or not, it's been around for a year or so.


It's a downloadable eBook about Seth's view on blogs. There's some really useful pointers / reminders in there. All served up in Seth's straightforward fashion. Worth a read over a cuppa.

I agree with the collective view here that blogs be embraced not just as another channel for brands to roll out their latest print campaign, but to engage consumers ‘honestly.’

I say honestly because if there is no real attempt to listen to what your consumers are saying, good or bad, you have a problem.

However – A great blog that’s ‘open’ with its consumers won’t save a bad product.

Don't come on and spew endless PR-speak on how ‘green’ your factory is or how ”The New Millenium has challenged us to yatta...“ and so forth.

If your product sucks – fix it.

If your customer service sucks - fix it.

Don’t tell me how, or when, just do it, and soon. Consumers move on when they don’t get want they want.

The immediacy of communicating on blogs can also be a brand’s downfall. (Tahoe anyone?) Or it’s uprising. (Snakes on a Plane anyone?)

And for the record, I have had no great guys fall in love with me since my blog started. And you know what? I'm ok with that.

I really am.


Building off Sarah's great point, I think for me the blog moment that matters most is when I find myself saying: "I didn't realize you cared that much." With the "you" being a person, team, brand, etc. It's passion, obsession - but in a personal context. Because reading words written by a passionate individual, using that inner monologue, has always been personal - whether it's a memoir from a hundred years ago or a blog from yesterday. Except now you can read other people's responses to that passion and go off exploring. And that's what's so exciting, I think. Blogs allow passion to be spread using the lowest common denominator - the written word. Invariably it's backed up by other stuff, but it's the voice in those words that builds the relationship.

I think that's why some brands are effective without blogs, but could probably use them all the same. Apple, for example, can do just fine without a blog because they're already using something simple like their product specs to convey how passionate they are: "ipod the size of a stick of gum", "magsafe power adapter that automatically unplugs if you trip over it", etc. As a result, Apple constantly surprises me with how much they care. And when they misstep, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

A little bit of empathy goes a long way.


In other news, really enjoyed reading everyone else's comments. Good luck with the presentation, Russell. The handwritten slides look cool. Here's to bringing back the Moleskine notebook.

Sounds good, I hope my input was of some use!

I wrote an article about blogging for small businesses at work; not sure if it will be of any use:


I suppose blogging is very much a case of letting go of your fears of failure and being a 'perfect organisation'; and embracing truth and rationality. It is very very much about the idea of finding your voice; and in that, not only can a company build its relationships with customers and suppliers... but it can actually build the voice and relationship within itself and its staff.

The most surprising thing about distributed media like blogs is that people are more interested in the unfinished than the finished. Just by recognising this, brands can have more fun.

Blogs are laxatives for the brain.

They help get things out of your head and into a space you can either 'express', 'consider' or 'debate'.

Blogs are laxatives for the brain.

They help get things out of your head and into a space you can either 'express', 'consider' or 'debate'.

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