Building Trust Through Conversation
An Active Dialogue
If you and I have a business relationship and we communicate regularly we are building a relationship of trust.
And, building a relationship through an ongoing conversation is exactly what a blog does.
A blog is more conversational and casual than a standard business communication and this helps build a relationship.
And as soon as a blog loses its quality of personal directness (its authenticity), it loses credibility.
What would make it non-authentic? If it is being ghost written or heavily edited. Or if it is handled like a standard PR tool. These will interfere with its ability to resonate with an audience.
How much time does it take?
A typical post takes 30 to 60 minutes to compose.
Not every single comment needs to be answered. Product managers can step in on behalf of the CEO. And some of the commenters answer eachother
That's why you need to have your whole organization aligned in support of it.
And, you need a blog evangelist like Jerry to constantly explain the value of blogging in order to bring them on board.
Jerry works for Hitachi. The sales team at Factiva wanted to sell to Hitachi and Jerry would have to be a decision-maker in the purchase of their product. So they started reading his blog to discover his needs.
Sales people also use their own company blogs as marketing support -- directing customers to issues that have been discussed by company bloggers.
And, as potential customers engage a company's bloggers, they let the company find out what's on their minds. And, in this way, it provides a royal road to the mind of the market.
Jerry says the returns on a blog are easier to measure than those of a billboard or magazine ad.
You can see:
1. Who's linking you
2. What are people saying about your company
3. What are people saying about your blog
It is graphable. But the best measurement is when your customers tell you that it helped them along the sales process.
(He's put his main idea in pictures here so even
dummies children can understand it).
Blogging Has A Big Future
Jerry points out that 90 % of people under age 25 are using social networking software like MySpace. This means that blogging is part of their everyday means of communication. When they hit the workforce in five years and business blogging will explode.
It's simply the way that consumers are going to communicate with eachother and how employees will communicate to consumers.
Does Every Company Need a Blog?
A blog is an asset to any company that wants to reach out to customers. Or, to one that wants to be seen to be a thought leader in its field.
But, if a company is already using other vehicles as forums for discussion, it might not need a blog. Amazon is an example.
And, certain industries, financial services, for instance, are under a lot of legal constraints about what they say. If every single word has to be reviewed by a lawyer it takes the life out of a blog.
But, Wells Fargo didn't let that stop it. It couldn't create a blog about its own business so it created a blog about earthquakes.
[COMMENT: If a CEO, or anyone else, dictates her ideas to a good writer, I don't think that interferes with authenticity. It might be a great way to share information that would not otherwise be shared due to lack of time or ability.]