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Wikipedia: The web of knowledge April 23, 2007

Posted by Null in Technology.
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Wikipedia is the fastest growing internet encyclopedia and probably it is considered as the number one encylopedia on web. The mastermind behind this formula was the internet guru Jimmy Wales who in 2001, dreamt of starting an encyclopedia for the internet age. He started it by himself and it took 18 months to complete just 12 entries. Lucky for him that he found that it is not helping him to finish this encyclopedia in a million years all by himself. He then planned to make it free so that everyone can contribute to this encyclopedia. In fact most people considered it as a noble cause which led his strategy go well enough. Now in 2007, wikipedia is the world’s largest free encyclopedia. Just three words “Edit this page” made it happen.

The thing I like about wikipedia is the instant access of suddenly required information which might have taken ages to find if wiki was not here. For example, if I do not know who is Alfred Nobel, it will take just 3 to 5 minutes to find and gather the general information about him. So i think it is a great knowledge base for quick information. On the contrary there are thousands of critics who feel that the information on wikipedia has no validity at all. I agree with the validity concerns of scholars and critiques but at least it is saving my day. Maybe in future, Jimmy will have to employ thousands of editors to ensure it’s validity or maybe we will be happy with the way it is growing. With keeping in mind that wikipedia still need to achieve trust and reliability among scholars, we can still embrace it and do less criticism of this great invention. At least you don’t have to pay money to read it.

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Contents of corporate blogs April 22, 2007

Posted by Null in About Blogs, Corporate Communications.
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What do we write in corporate blogs? Is it all about the products and services we sell? Well it depends whether we are going for an external or internal organisational blog. For an external blog we are trying to communicate with customers and other external groups. Thus we can concentrate on the technologies we use for our products and services. We can also make announcements and get feedback from our customers. However, there might be some other external parties who will get involved. For example, if the product that we are selling is tobacco, then anti-smoking campaigners and health organisations will join the blog to have a conversation about the pros and cons of tobacco marketing. The crucial part is to be polite with external communicators and view their ideas respectfully.

On the other hand if we decide to blog internally, we can blog about the different ways to improve our organisational efficiency. In case of a project team, we can even discuss about the issues concerning the project work. A whole bunch of topics like company annoucements, change of direction, employee socialisation, employee involvement, social responsibility, etc can be discussed about. With blogging conversations you will get so many expert opinions and diverse ideas from your employees that you might not have thought about those issues individually. Thus it creates a new form of Decentralisation in the organisation and which is good for enhancing the organisational culture.

List of top corporate bloggers April 22, 2007

Posted by Null in About Blogs, Corporate Communications.
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While there are no universal laws about who should blog for an organisation. Although many critics suggest that CEOs should blog for the company, but I believe employees who are highly identifiable by an organisation should blog. You might wonder who are the top bloggers in external corporate blogging. Here is a list of top rated corporate bloggers. Try having a look into their blogs and guess what made these blogs so special in the blogosphere.

These are some of the good corporate blogs that I browsed before starting my own blog.  Some of these blogs are technical and I did not understand most of the conversations of those blogs.  I suggest to look at the blogs, their contents and styles, and the way of conversations held. In addition to these, don’t forget to browse Jason Calacanis’s media blog where he talks about the gossips of Hollywood.

Blogs and organisational identity April 22, 2007

Posted by Null in About Blogs, Books.
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Yesterday I was browsing the blogosphere and ended up with a very thougtful journal posted by Thomas on his blog. He talked about organisational identity and how blogs can help firms in creating identified employees. The topic is a must read for someone who is interested in corporate blogs. If possible try reading the book “Identity in Organizations” edited by Whetten and Godfrey. A serious organisational blogger should read this book.

Blogging etiquette April 22, 2007

Posted by Null in About Blogs.
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From my personal experience, I felt that blogging is a very user friedly social media for conversations. You open up a blog account and you are ready to blog. You dont have to be a techy to blog. All you need is the writing skills, patience and the correct etiquette for conversations. However, it would be wise to realise that whatever we are writing in our blogs is going to the public knowledge and we need to be very careful about what we say on blogs.

Mellisa Waters of BellaOnline’s Journals Editor has emphasized on accuracy, spellings, and simple plain language when writing blogs. Another important etiquette for blogging is politeness. Blogging is casual but we should also be polite and respectful to what others think and say. Thus acknowledging other’s ideas should be a priority in terms of blogging etiquette.

On the contrary, James (an IT architect) has argued that blogging does not need any etiquette. He believes that many thoughtful conversations does not occur just because we are worried about offending someone when having a conversation. I think James has a very good logic but etiquette is much important these days. Just think about Kathy Sierra’s consequences for creating passionate users. There are no crimestoppers on the web which leaves us with one hope…that is etiquette. What do you think?

Blogging for competitive advantage April 22, 2007

Posted by Null in Corporate Communications.
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Blogs which were once viewed as teen journals or geek diaries suddenly turned out to be a knowledge management tool to many large organisations. These sudden move by many firms towards blogging has surprised many communication scholars and practitioners.  When I started moving in the blogosphere, I too wondered why do organisations blog? There are several reasons behind it.

Organisations blog for various reasons. As for an external organisational blog, the primary objective is to get closer to the customers and get feedback from them about your new innovations and product updates. Therefore you need to take a lead in the topics that are relevant to your industry and create a network of passionate communicators in those fields. That brings your organisation in a form of social identification to the media and to the community. For example, GM’s Bob Lutz talks about the auto industry and communicates with the external community through his blog. Thus it creates a social network within various people who are interested in those topics.  John Porcaro, a marketing manager of Microsoft believes that listening to customers and their needs helps them meet their expectations. His personal weblog helps him a great deal when communicating with customers. Corporate blogs are not just about marketing and product promotion, but also to represent the organsation as a knowledge base in the communities they exist.

As far as I understand, internal corporate blogs are useful for team communications in product development. Organisations like IBM and Macromedia already claims that they have benefitted with the use of internal blogs. Internal blogs are also useful for multinationals with international subsidiaries and international managers. The parent company can communicate and share knowledge with all the international units within an internal blog which eventually gives a competitive advantage to the firm.

Books about corporate blogs April 22, 2007

Posted by Null in About Blogs, Books.
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In order to get started effectively with a corporate blog, it is worthwhile to have some research about the content and styles. “Uses of Blogs” by Axel Bruns and Joanne Jacobs is a good preliminery reading about blogs. In addition, Debbie Weil’s “The Corporate Blogging Book” can be handy for getting some tips on corporate blogs. The first chapters of both the books are provided free to download in pdf format.

Uses of BlogsThe Corporate Blogging Book

 

So when you are ready to start a corporate blog for your organisation, think whether you you would go for an external or internal blog or both of them. As we have already discussed about the benefits of external and internal blogs, you must also look at the cons of both the types before you start your organisational blog.

Corporate blogging and ethics April 22, 2007

Posted by Null in About Blogs, Ethics.
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As far as communications are concerned, trust and ethics are always core issues in managing social media. Similar to other social media, blogging is also difficult to control since there are no cyber patrol for controlling the thugs of social media. However, unethical practices are less likely to be found in blogs compared to other social media like E-mail. But there are no universal standard guidelines for blogs. Most bloggers outline or highlight the blogging policies on their blogs.

Organisational blogs such as IBM, DELL, Yahoo, Boeing and Marriot International have outlined the blogging policy and guidelines on their blogs. These guidelines tells us the various legal, ethical, copyright and privacy issues that may be relevant with the blogs.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF) has an interesting set of general guidelines for bloggers who might be wary about the legal and ethical issues concerning blogs. A look into those guidelines will give a clear idea about the Do’s and Dont’s of blogs.

Another way of securing blog articles is by the use of Creative Commons License where you can not only copyright your ideas but also share by letting others copy your ideas. If you want to buy a seal, CopyrightDeposit can provide you with a copyright declaration seal through a one time payment.

In general, most bloggers seemed to have high ethical standards as because they too contribute to the knowledge of the blogosphere. But it is worthwhile to understand what could have happened if the bloggers were not aware about the intellectual property rights. Due to the blogging boom, I think it is not far when we will have to have a genuine security measure to claim our intellectual property in future. I just wonder what happens next when corporate giants like Google does not care about their client’s privacy. Watch this video.

Does it matter who should blog and who should not? April 22, 2007

Posted by Null in About Blogs, Corporate Communications.
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Corporate blogs are news ways to communicate with the world. No matter what business are you in, it is worthwhile to look at the benefits of corporate blogging. Corporate blogging can not only enhance your communication with your customers and stakeholders but also with your employees.

When employees are allowed to be a part of the communication process, it enhances the organizational culture. As I have browsed through some of the corporate blogs, in most cases it is one individual who is representing the organisation. For Sun Microsystems, it is the CEO who is blogging for the company. Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems has his own blog by which he communicates with the employees and the customers. I was wondering whether CEOs should blog or not. In a post of Global PR Week Blog, David Taylor said CEOs should not blog at all because they are very busy individuals thinking about strategic planning. I think it does not need to be a CEO to blog for an organisation. Employee who you think is dedicated and has a good writing skill can blog for your company. All you have to make sure that employee is highly identified by your organisation. Organisational identification is a sense of belongingness to the organisation by an individual. Dr. Carl and his students at Northeastern University have discussed more about organisational identification on their communication blog. It is really an interesting blog to read. Go dig it.

Internal and External organisational blogs April 22, 2007

Posted by Null in About Blogs, Corporate Communications.
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I did a ransack in the corporate blogosphere for the types of corporate blogs. The two most common categories I found are: 1) Internal blogs and 2) External blogs. Internal blogs are quite similar to the concept of Intranet where the communication occurs between the internal employees of a firm. Whereas external blogs are communication channels between the external environment and the firm. A firm’s external environment may include customers, suppliers, government agencies, regulatory bodies, pressure groups, environmentalists, etc.
A Swedish web communication advisor Fredrik Wackå, has classified corporate blogs into six different categories. He identified that the difference in audience groups and purposes have made blogs confusing. He also said that his classification of corporate blogs will help discussion and communication much easier and effective. Description of the classification are detailed in his website.

Fredrik's classification of corporate blogs
(Source: Corporateblogging.info)

Internal blogs are a great to communicate within the firm. These blogs serves as an effective meeting of employees even if they are distant. Unlike video conferencing users can post anytime they want and do not have to be on time. As we discussed in earlier posts that internal blogs are effective for project teams because team members can share their ideas. So organisations can build up a learning organisational culture and harvest knowledge through the use of internal blogs. Apart from knowledge creation and team coordination, there are plenty of benefits you can find of internal blogs. George Athannassov of blogtronix listed some benefits organisations can attain through the effective uses of internal blogs.

On the other hand, external blogs are also useful for a learning organisation. It is like a face to face communication with the end-users. In fact end-users may have more product knowledge than the producers as because they are using the product. So these type of blogs can help firms to harvest more knowledge from their external environment. I soon realised why most of the CEO or CIO blogs that exist on the blogosphere are external blogs. In addition to external communication and feedback, external blogs can also improve a firm’s marketing and branding activities. For example, Nike’s Basketball blog can be regarded as a focused external blog that is aimed at promoting basketball and as well as Nike’s basketball related products.