I’ve written elsewhere about the various benefits of blogs as early product conversations, focus groups and general sounding boards amongst a tight knit community, but here’s another thought….reputation management.
Reputation management is a hackneyed term amongst PR folk who charge a fortune to help companies and individuals keep their noses clean after oil spills, mass redundancies, illicit affairs, and general snafus. Like Harvey Keitel as Winston Wolfe in Pulp Fiction, they arrive after the incident to clean up the mess that’s been created – usually by spinning positive stories in the media, and sometimes by getting retractions printed. That kind of thing – in any case, not very web ’2.0′.
Now, in the case of blogging and the all new shiny Interweb, the Wired piece makes the very valid comment that blogging is a way for companies and individuals to make their reputation more solid via the simple laws of publishing on the web.
The logic goes something like this:
- …I write honestly and openly about myself/my firm in my blog
- …I do this often
- …Other people like what they read and link to it in their blogs
- …Other people’s friends like what other people have written and link to it in their blogs
- …All paths lead back to my blog
- …My page rank gets boosted
- …When the sh*t hits the fan and I screw up, or when I do something great, my reputation is insulated by this Google effect
In other words, if you blog often and well enough, then Google should look after you….so that when others start writing dumb things about the good/bad things you’ve done, their commentary is drowned out by the ‘halo effect’ of your blog posts.
Sounds sensible, huh?
Well, it also kind of works….here’s a Google UK search for Roger Warner.
My blog posts are up there. Now, you can easily apply the same logic to your company.
If we buy this approach, there’s two things to consider:
- This only works if what your writing is any good. To perform well in Google, people have to link to you, which means that they have to find you interesting. In short, to be a mouthpiece for your firm, you have to be a good writer.
- This is all based on the rather scary idea that our lives are being cached, big brother style, by Google. So, if you’re going to blog, you’d better do it consistently, and you’d better be honest, open and transparent in all that you blog…. Because if you’re not, the evidence will always be there for all to see, cached.
The second Wired article in their series on blogging (on Microsoft’s noble efforts) puts these two points really elegantly. It transpires that blogging – this easy to do, throw away content form – is not so plastic fantastic after all…. From a marketing standpoint, it’s only effective if you’re as compelling as Agatha Christie….and you’d better take the time and care to be sure it’s polished and air tight because it’ll be there for all time, for all to see…..