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« Social Media to Boost Bottom Lines and Protect Reputations | Main | Columnist Says Syndication Needs to Get Simpler, Really »

Let the Blog Bashing Begin

Pete Blackshaw predicted this would happen and he was right. A blog bashing movement is underway. In a new report, eMarketer is questioning whether businesses will ever blog. They're following the effervescent Nick Denton. He got the ball rolling with his "Up with People-like" quotes in Sunday's New York Times.

In all fairness, eMarketer does feel blogs are important. In fact, like I have been saying,
they believe that many consumers are visiting blogs without even
realizing it because they look so professional. That said, they try to
throw some serious water on the blog hype. Here's a sampling of quotes

  • "Blog creation has, if anything, outstripped the growth of readership"

  • "New figures released by Pew earlier this month, however, showed readership growth had stalled."

  • "For all the interest and activity in the blogosphere,
    however, American businesses appear to be taking a cautious approach. A
    spot check of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 found just
    four percent of companies had any form of publicly available blog --
    and not all of these were current and active."

  • "Decentralized by design, blogs are unlikely to become a
    mainstream business communications tool without change at the root
    level of corporate culture."

  • "Doubtless more companies will give blogging a shot. But for
    the time being it is difficult to see corporate blogging becoming
    widespread, however tempting the new format may be as a marketing and
    communications tool."

Geez, what a downer. All we're missing is a sappy Tiny Tim song. OK,
all eMarketer really did here is regurgitate a lot of existing numbers
that are already out there and confirm that there is a lot of fear in
Corporate America.  Wow, what insight! Don't bother spending $695
for the report. Lots of people can tell you this for free.

What eMarketer totally neglected to talk about, however, is what the opportunity is for the companies that do decide to be brave and take the plunge. For example...

  • Significant competitive advantage -you could become the loudest voice in a channel where your competitors are absent

  • Press
    and consumers read blogs - either willingly (RSS/bookmarks) or
    unwillingly (Google); like it or not they influence purchases

  • Blogging aint going away. The conversation is going to go on without you. Be there or be square
  • Blogs are a cost-effective marketing tool that helps smaller and mid-sized companies generate more attention. Just look at Stonyfield Farms.

Take this report with a grain of salt. With every major revolution, there are believers
and there are doubters. Read everything you can get your hands on and
form your own conclusion based on what your company is comfortable
with. Just be sure to consider the pros and the cons.

Reader Comments (8)

So ... there is another part of the Pete's prediction:

"Oh, and did I mention that ubiquitous PR-industry blogger Steve Rubel will almost certainly leave his current PR firm to start a new communications agency entitled Macro Persuasion?"

May 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBruce DeBoer
While there are certainly some that are bashing blogs, I think the real damage to blogging is being done by Blogging Consultants. There are far too many people that are trying to capitalize on blogs as the next big thing – hyping blogs endlessly as a new end of business. While blogs are indeed great for many (I have personally benefited from blogging) blogs aren’t for all businesses.Would you be surprised if a hammer salesperson suggested a hammer were the perfect tool for every home project?Have a leaky sink? You need a hammer. Need to change an electrical outlet? You need a hammer. Need to paint a wall? You need a hammer. Need to cut fire wood? You need a hammer. Yes! A hammer can serve any household need!That would be silly.And yet that is exactly what many Blog Consultants do. Do you have a business? You need a blog! Ridiculous.A blog is nothing more than a tool to support a business and web strategy. As any tool of business or trade, there is a time and place where they are appropriate; there are also many times when they’re overkill and times when they’re a waste of energy.Bottom line. A hammer, screw driver, saw, and measure tape all have a place in a tool box. Each serves a particular function and use. Each is the right tool at the right time and none are the only tool you need. Blogs are a tool of business; they sit in the tool box alongside direct mail, print advertising, signage, websites, and other marketing means. A blog is not a strategy and it’s not a must have for every business.The only marketing and sales plan that matters is the one that works. To say every business needs a blog is to me to say you don’t understand business.That’s not bashing blogs, that’s just putting them in perspective.Blogs – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

May 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJim Logan
This quote is interesting:

"Decentralized by design, blogs are unlikely to become a mainstream business communications tool without change at the root level of corporate culture."

Which is what a lot of folks - Doc and Hugh for example - have been saying all along.

May 13, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterdavid parmet
As marketers, we can't resist the temptation to build and then destroy because we're always looking for new angles, so on one level the "de-hyping" of the blogophere, which I'm guilty of recently fanning (, is to be expected. It's also probably healthy.

What's interesting about the crash is that despite the evaporation of marketing dollars and start-ups, the steady march of consumer attention online never budged one bit. And that's what we really need to pay attention to in the blogophere. The numbers continue to grow (BlogPulse still counts nearly 40,000 new blogs a day), and the blog publishing format (more flexible, nimble, RSS-based, inexpensive) is proving irresistable. Moreover, blogs have reach well beyond what the published reports suggest (remember: these reports, even PEW, ask "traditional" research questions like "How often do you read blogs?") because the vast majority of consumers consume blog content (often without knowing it) via search engines. As long as consumer continue to search, blogs will have an real, unmistakable impact.

My biggest issue with blogs, as I noted in my recent ClickZ column, is that too many marketers think they represent a "fix all" panacea for today's marketing challenges, or that they present an opportunity for marketers to take back control. Such high expectations are a recipe for disappointment. Will they nudge or catalyze companies into a new and fresh mindset around the power of customer feedback or consumer conversations? Absolutely. But they are just one (overdue) piece of a complicated puzzle.

Lest there be any doubts, I intend to keep promoting blogs. I absolutely love the platform, and only a couple days ago built yet another one for the community in which I live ( I'll also continue reading great blogs (like this one) to stay ahead. The key is that we nurture this medium in the right way.

- Pete Blackshaw
May 13, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterPete Blackshaw
I suspect that there's a fundamental gap growing in our society over what "mainstream" means in terms of social and business communications. Tools like Technorati seduce us into applying old paradigms to blogging (e.g. ideas expressed in blogs with more inbound links are more important than ideas expressed in blogs with fewer inbound links). These types of measurement models -- and the concepts of "mainstream" they support -- simply do not make sense in world with interactive worldwide web publishing, let alone IP and satellite broadcasting.
May 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara
For gods sake, a blog is just a bloody website.

Denton hit the nail right on the head, get over it.
May 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNick W
I am one of those persons who doubt that business will really be serious about blogging, or benefit from it. With too much content in the internet, there is just too much materials to read. The fact that it is so easy to create a blog makes it less attractive to readers, and consumers, for they would rather make one than read one.
May 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRob

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