Microsoft's voice in Siberia
Experts at Wharton say Blogging will be around for a long time. For those of you who want to read more than my excerpts below, you'll find it at Weblogs are here to stay, but where are they headed?
Wharton legal studies professor Dan Hunter puts blogging right up there with the printing press when it comes to sharing ideas and disseminating information. "This is not a fad," says Hunter. "It's the rise of amateur content, which is replacing the centralized, controlled content done by professionals."
"At its most basic level, it's a technology that is lowering the cost of publishing" and turning out to be "the next extension of the web," says Wharton legal studies professor Kevin Werbach. "Blogging is still in its early days. It's analogous to where the web was in 1995 and 1996. It's not clear how it will turn out."
What is clear is that opportunities for blogging abound. Companies can use bloggers to put a more human face on interactions with employees and customers; marketers can create buzz through blogs; and bloggers can act as fact checkers for the mainstream media. There are dozens of applications for blogs, Werbach notes, and many that haven't even been conceived yet.
"Blogging is really driven by interest and desires, not commercial activity," says Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader. "It's rare to see something take off like this when commercial prospects are so minimal. People just want to share ideas."
One of the big pitfalls that corporations may encounter is not understanding the culture of blogging and produce content that's so carefully vetted that no human voice can be discerned. Microsoft didn't make that mistake.
Robert Scoble, a Microsoft employee who operates Scobleizer, a blog about Microsoft products and developments, maintains one of the more interesting blogs around. Scoble, whose official title is "technical evangelist," sounds like many employees at large companies. He has his share of gripes, but will also defend his employer. The key is that he is balanced, says Brown. "This Microsoft employee has to maintain credibility by remaining transparent. By being negative once in a while, it's more credible when he's positive."
Scoble is so credible as a Microsoft blogger that he is viewed as the voice of the company across the globe. When Ted Demopoulos, principal of Demopoulos Associates, an information technology consulting company, was traveling in Russia recently, he stopped in Surgut, Siberia, where he was surprised to find Scoble fans. "I'm out in the middle of nowhere and they ask me about Scoble," says Demopoulos. "To them, Scoble is the voice of Microsoft."
Scoble represents the power of a blogger who is trusted by his readers to be candid and say what he really thinks. Even as they are downloading their thousandth patch for Microsoft's Explorer, people have a personal relationship with the Company because of Scoble. Microsoft couldn't buy that.
Posted by Jill Fallon on March 29, 2005 at 10:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack