Monday, January 14, 2008

Companies remain in the shadows of the blogosphere

Ike has once again blogged about a positive experience with a company, and once again that company has failed to reach out to him. But this time, the company, Canon, did visit Ike's blog, and Ike even added screenshots of the hits registered via his Sitemeter account.

Over the past couple of years, I've noticed a dramatic uptick in the number of companies that come to this blog via searches. A few months ago in the span of an hour, people from Walmart, GM, Kodak, and Dell all arrived here from Google searches for their company's name. I've heard similar stories from other bloggers, so it appears that as a whole, companies are beginning to realize the need to monitor the blogosphere, and are doing so.

But more often than not, the monitoring doesn't lead to further action.

The question is, do companies simply not want to respond, or aren't sure how? I tend to think it's the latter. I also think that many of the hits that we see from a company are coming from your average employee that decides to do an 'ego check' to see what's being said about his/her company in the blogosphere. If they come across a post such as Ike's that should be responded to, they either ignore it, or mention it to a boss that probably doesn't know what's the best way to respond, or that they should respond. My guess is that most companies see a positive mention in the blogosphere, and think 'hey that's neat, shows we are doing a good job!', then move on.

This also reminds me of a recent article from CRMBuyer that quoted Jeremiah Owyang as saying that 2008 would see companies for the first time, start to set aside budgets for social media. This is a big reason why I think so many companies aren't getting past the 'monitor' stage to move to engaging bloggers online. Because they don't understand how to respond to bloggers, and don't have anyone on staff that can show them how.

If Jeremiah is right, we may see companies begin to move past the monitor roadblock later this year. That's when the fun REALLY starts!

Pic via Flickr user edcrowle


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Jonathan Trenn said...

Maybe many monitor, but I'd have to say that I would expect a company like Blockbuster to respond when challenged - which is exactly what Ike did. It's a shame they don't have the vision to do so. Yet they're pouring it on with the Social Ad effort.

Mack Collier said...

But did Blockbuster ever find his post? If they found Ike's post and didn't respond, I agree, absolutely no excuse.

Anonymous said...

We have the same notion. I also think that most companies don't really know how to respond to such mentions. Naturally, they're pleased when they read positive feedback but they don't really try to reach out and establish further connection with the blog or blogger. I think a lot of opportunities are being bypassed this way.

Mack Collier said...

Jen I think you're right on companies not knowing how to respond. If it's a positive mention, they probably think there's no need to say anything since, 'nothing's broke'. If it's a negative comment, they probably think it's a mistake to reply, because that would just draw more attention to the comment.

I think as cultures change and more companies bring in workers that are comfortable with blogs from day one, then we'll see appropriate responses, as they understand why they should respond, and how.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at to see something that I posted in September about Nokia and Apple. Never heard from either company, either to fix the problem or to thank me for the shout out. While it can certainly be hard for companies to respond to every post made about them, you would think that there would be some threshold that would make spur some response respond. I'm sure it'll change in the future!

Anonymous said...

Unless a large company like Blockbuster or Canon is using sophisticated tools from an outside service, monitoring is very difficult. Imagine setting up a Google email alert for every mention of the company name--how could you keep up with it, let alone respond? And I agree that most of them haven't figured out how to respond, or perhaps *who* within the company should be the one to respond.

Anonymous said...

But Connie - isn't that what PR firms are for? To keep an eye on what's being said out there - in the media or the blogosphere - about their clients?

In this case, Ike actually asked/challenged them to respond.

Mack Collier said...

Jonathan I agree, but I think many companies and their PR firms still see most blogs as having an audience of about 4 people, all family members of the author. I think that's why you are seeing them treat the highly-trafficked blogs, the Tech Crunchs, as media sources. But for 99% of blogs, they don't care and don't understand why they should.

I think/hope this will change when companies start bringing in marketing people that are versed in social media, or better yet create departments devoted to social media.

BTW Jonathan, remember when you leave a comment, click on Nickname, then you can add your blog's URL so that it links back to your blog like Connie's does.

Anonymous said...

Mack - we are in agreement on that, but the issue then becomes when these praises/complaints start showing up in organic search results.

Some of the site traffic I get to the Blockbuster posts relates to people looking for various permutations of Blockbuster and Customer Service. I'm not in the top for very many, but enough of them to be on the first results page.

Now that you gentlemen have linked to my posts, that may get even more interesting...

Mack Collier said...

Ike this brings up a good point; Which company is blowing it more, Blockbuster by apparently not monitoring the blogosphere at all, or Canon by monitoring the blogosphere, but refusing to reach out to bloggers that mention them?

I tend to think that Canon is making the bigger mistake.