Are you afraid to blog?.
This is a great article. It comes on the heels of a coworker asking me about blogging in my organization. I may work for Scoble, but I as I mentioned to my co worker, we are just not ready for it.
Fear of being different. Fear of telling your boss your ideas. Fear of speaking up in meetings. Fear of going up to someone you don't know and introducing yourself. Fear of doing something that might destroy your career.
Fear of weblogging.
It's time we get over our fears.
I meet a lot of people around the industry. Almost everytime I meet someone, I ask them "do you have a weblog?" That's my way of saying "I like you and want to hear more of your ideas." Even deeper: I want a permanent relationship with you (and not of the sexual kind, either).
I've asked this question of people at Apple. Google. IBM. eBay. Real Networks. Cisco. Intel. HP. Amazon. And, yes, here at Microsoft.
Too often the answer is "I couldn't do that."
"Why not?" I ask.
"Because I might get fired," is often the answer. I hate that answer. It's an example of corporate fear. An artifact of a management system that doesn't empower its employees to act on behalf of customers.
I find this fear disturbing. Imagine being a flight attendant with this kind of fear. "Sorry, I can't talk to the passengers in this plane today cause I might get fired."
I'm not the only one who sees it, either. John McCain, in the September 2004 Fast Company, went looking for courage.
Lately, more and more people, both inside and outside of Microsoft, have been asking me for ways to convince their boss to "get" weblogging. Translation: they are trying to overcome their fears (and/or get their managers to empower them).
Lately I've been answering with one word: Kryptonite.
Kryptonite. Lately I've been asking audiences I've been speaking to "who knows the Kryptonite story?" 75% do.
If you don't know the story, do a Google search for Kryptonite and "Bic Pen". We'll wait.
We just watched the destruction of an American brand. 75% know about it. Why? Because of one or two weblogs and the new word-of-mouth network. Yes, Engadget and Gizmodo do have that kind of power. Engadget alone has 250,000 of the most influential readers the world has ever seen.
My second question is: "What have you heard from Kryptonite about this issue?"
Not a single person has been able to tell me the answer yet (yes, they have an official response on the home page of their site, but no one in my audiences has been able to articulate the answer to me). Why not?
I went looking for the answer. I searched Google for "Kryptonite Weblog." None found. "Kryponite blog." None found. I went looking for executive names. None found. So, I couldn't look up whether any of the execs had a blog.
Only a press release on the home page. No way to have a conversation. No way to tell the company off. I looked for comments from the company on Engadget and BoingBoing. I didn't find any, but maybe they are there somewhere. Dave Sifry, founder of Technorati, tracked the Kryptonite story in the blogosphere and did some interesting graphic analysis.
Want to motivate your boss to get blogs? Have him do some homework on the Kryptonite story and look at the brand equity that has gone away due to their response (or lack thereof).
Here's what's going on: the word-of-mouth networks are becoming more efficient at a time when people trust large corporations less and less.
The time it takes for an idea to be hatched, found by Slashdot, and then reported in the mainstream media, is now about five weeks.
Next time around it will be even faster.
Why? The word-of-mouth networks are becoming more efficient.
Today there's 4,305,245 weblogs, as reported by Technorati.
Yeah, maybe only 55% of those are actually being published to (Dave Sifry, founder of Technorati says). But look at that growth curve. The blogosphere is eight times as large today as it was in June 2003! If those trends don't get your attention, nothing will. Go back to sleep.
But, a corporate blog isn't just a good place to talk to the world whenever there's a crisis. If that's the only reason you let your employees blog, you'll be missing the really good stuff here.
"OK, what are the reasons I should let my employees blog?"
Here's my observations:
1) People don't trust corporations. Especially big and successful ones like, um, Microsoft. Come on, be honest, none of you really trust us to do the right thing, do you? So, how do we show you that we're trustworthy? We need to invite you deep inside our corporate structures and talk to you like human beings. It's exactly why Channel 9 resonates with so many of you.
2) People don't like talking to corporations. Again, be honest, if you saw a press release from a big company asking for you to provide feedback on something, would you? Hey, Microsoft has had "firstname.lastname@example.org" for a long time. Even when I was a customer of Microsoft's, I'd never send anything to that address. Why? I never thought anyone was listening. Do any of you feel any differently? Yet I get so much email now giving Microsoft feedback about our products that I can't keep up (I'm four days behind).
3) That old "markets are conversations" thing. If you haven't read the Cluetrain Manifesto, why not?
4) Which is more believeable? A press release from, say, Ford Motor Company, or a few blog entries from the people who designed the new Ford Mustang's powertrain.
That Ford blog is just inspiring. Here are people who obviously love what they do, have been empowered to share their love.
Yeah, it isn't perfect. I notice a bit of marketing talk seeping in there (someone slap me when I do that!). And where are the darn permalinks and RSS feed? Grrr. Ford: your customers want a permanent marketing relationship with you. You are so absolutely close to completely getting it. Go the extra 10%.
5) Blogs build customer evangelists. I learned at the MSN Search Champs that people WANT to be evangelists for your products, they just need to be included in the business. "Huh?" I can hear some of you asking. You know, include your most passionate customers from the very start of the product planning cycle. Don't think that works? It's time you go back and meet Amy, the customer evangelist at the Christopher Creek winery in Sonoma. She had such an impact on me that I'm talking about that winery months after my visit to Sonoma. Now THAT'S evangelism. I wish she had a blog, I'd love to read her thoughts on the wine industry. By the way, Christopher Creek doesn't have a blog. What a missed opportunity! A worse tragedy? Amy, the evangelist, isn't featured on their Web site.
6) Blogs build market momentum and get adoption. Ask Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords, about this one. He's gotten world-class reviews in the newspapers you all love and know (just a week or so ago ActiveWords was in the New York Times). But he gets more downloads of his product when I linked to him than when a famous "USA" newspaper wrote a glowing review. They have millions of readers. What am I missing here? Yet I've had product managers for products that make billions every year tell me that they'll just advertise in national newspapers and get the same "kick" that blogs will get them. (They look at my puny 4,000 readers per day and laugh. Keep laughing, but do your homework and ask Buzz about his experiences -- he's not the only one who's noticed this. Ask Nokia (or, even the marketers at Microsoft) about how important a good link on Engadget is).
How many Xbox Live subscriptions has Major Nelson (aka Larry Hryb, programming director on Xbox Live) sold? I bought one cause of his blog. I know there's others. Aside: By the way, Larry, your latest item was obviously written by someone in marketing. Don't do that anymore. You'll lose your credibility. Your authenticity. Your voice. Tell the marketing guys to get their own blogs if they want you to post that kind of stuff. You can always link over. Human minds are excellent pattern recognizers. We can tell when something doesn't fit.
Be like Dallas Mavericks' CEO Mark Cuban. He said, on his blog, "The point of my blog is to try to tell the story behind the story that is in the paper." Most journalists only have 10 to 30 column inches to write about your product. Yes, celebrate everytime your product gets written up by the New York Times (believe me, Buzz does, he calls me everytime he gets written up). But, use your blog to explain more. Will the New York Times explain all the new graphics that are available for the Maytag SkyBox? No, but their blog sure does!
A well-done simple blog will make you an authority. Hey, looking for real estate in Southern California? If you read a blog like this one, does that make you more or less likely to use the team of Fran and Rowena?
Anyway, that's enough, gotta go do some email and get some sleep. What else could we do to help you get over your fears? Should we come over and wack your boss upside the head? Here's a little secret. You should do just that. He or she might fire you, but then if you don't blog the market might fire you anyway. Just ask the folks over at Kryptonite.[Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]