BusinessWeek's Bruce Nussbaum has a great take on a recent McKinsey study that says that while companies are excited about technologies such as P2P and social networks that allow customers to talk to each other, they are still scared of blogs, which allow customers to communicate with them.
Nussbaum adds, "The great challenge to companies these days is to learn how to let consumers in, how to open a conversation with them that is honest and real. It looks like lots of managers have yet to get that signal."
Karl offers his take: "Blogs, on the other hand, are written by humans that talk to other humans -- employees to customers, employees to partners, employees to investors, employees to stock markets, employees to press (or at least that seems to be the terrifying image)."
I think that's part of it. But I think the bigger issue is, companies have never really let their customers have a chance to talk to them, and the uncertainty over what they would say scares them. And letting customers say it on THE COMPANY'S BLOG makes it scarier.
But if companies would view a blog as a chance to collect feedback from customers, and then let that feedback shape and change their future marketing to make it more effective (And remember, more effective = costs less), the medium would be more popular as companies move forward. And it's not just with blogs, how many companies honestly reach out to their evangelists and do everything they can to empower them to market for the company? Damned few. Again, it's uncertainty=fear.
And fear=paralysis. Which is why so many companies are scared to move. Unfortunately, stopping in the middle of the road isn't the best alternative.
The Viral Garden, Marketing
in a business world built on a top down model it's a tough task to leave the control outside your company.
in the last years the "total control" model has been dominant and still it is in the mind of most of the managers around.
Thanks on the interesting link.
And yes, once again business managers are paralyzed with the possibility of losing control of their business (even if the possibility is unreal and just a perception).
However, as I've said before I think this will slowly and gradually change, not only with actual managers but with the influx of new, younger, more open-minded and technologically oriented executives.
Good post! My experience is very different, having come out of newspapers, magazines, utilities and then retail. Customers, especially angry one, talk to those businesses all the time, and have forever. But it isn't in the form of a conversation visible to all.
A blog allows anyone, including non-customers and, most important, people who will never be customers, to start a wildfire. I think businesses will remain reluctant to allow that to happen.
"However, as I've said before I think this will slowly and gradually change, not only with actual managers but with the influx of new, younger, more open-minded and technologically oriented executives."
Bingo, Ron. Many of the top execs at most major companies came up in the 80s and early 90s, before the web, much less social media, was being widely used. As you say, as more and more younger execs take over that are more comfortable using these tools, we'll begin to see more companies embrace their use.
I like what Lewis is saying here: "[...a conversation visible to all. A blog allows anyone, including non-customers and, most important, people who will never be customers, to start a wildfire...]
I would say to 'potentially' start a wildfire. Yet some of our customer-facing employees are quite skilled at facilitating conversations. Food for thought.
As corporate web designers we recommend that our clients participate in social networking, including blogging, but even though our clients are in the technical industry there is a slow uptake on these ideas. Maybe in time...
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