DAVID CANTON – For the London Free Press – November 27, 2004
Blogging is now considered an innovative marketing tool that corporations can use to better service their customer, employee and supplier relations.
It’s no longer perceived as merely a medium where computer savvy techies share their daily thoughts with others with similar interests.
A blog — also known as a weblog — is somewhere between a website and an e-mail. Blogs started off as frequently updated journals and have evolved into catalogs of topic specific commentary. They are a one-to-many information vehicle, although many allow readers the opportunity to post comments.
Similar to traditional websites, blogs can include both text and images, are found through search engines and typically have links to websites and other blogs.
Although blogs aren’t sent like e-mail, many contain XML code that allows RSS (real simple syndication) technology to alert readers when new commentary is posted. Examples of newsreader software that works with RSS are the Rogers/Yahoo homepage and the Pluck plug-in for Internet Explorer.
Some businesses are making strategic uses of blogging. Some use blogging to brand or position their products and services while others interact and strengthen relationships with target customer groups. Blogging can be a fast, high-tech and low-cost marketing tool.
Internally, companies are adding blogging to their collection of communication, organization and project collaboration tools. Some professionals — such as lawyers — have been finding unique uses for blogging. A handful of lawyers are using their blawgs, or law blogs, to discuss emerging legal issues and developments. My blawg is at www.canton.elegal.ca.
Two corporations that have embraced the use of blogs are Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. Both companies allow their employee bloggers to blog publicly. Microsoft has more than 600 employee bloggers on multiple blog sites, who write about and comment on anything from new product releases to tips that help readers better use Microsoft products or to the movie they saw last night.
Sun Microsystems also has a large number of bloggers who comment on a variety of topics. By nature, blogs are informal and have a personal element to them that allows their bloggers to portray a genuine corporate personality to a mass audience.
Is it a coincidence that both of these companies are large corporations in the high-tech sector? It doesn’t have to be. Business blogs can be added to a corporate website or be an attractive, low-cost alternative to having a corporate website, especially for small business. There are a number of free blog publishing sites that host blogs or a business can purchase a blogging software platform.
Business blogs aren’t without problems. There have been a few instances where employee bloggers have been fired for their blog postings. This usually happens when an employee forgets that posting confidential or inappropriate information on a blog is no different than publishing it in the newspaper or telling the competition.
Legal concerns include liability for defamation and leaking corporate secrets that could lessen a competitive edge or cause a company to lose its rights to a patent filing by not protecting its IP.
For example, a Microsoft employee was fired for posting a picture on his blog of pallets of new Apple Power Mac G5 computers sitting on a Microsoft loading dock.
The act of being canned from your job for what you have posted in a blog has recently been coined being “dooced” after an employee got fired for what she wrote about co-workers on her website dooced.com.