One of my 12 main categories for this weblog is Corporate Weblogging. I recently wrote my category headings in the form of a manifesto, so here is how I actually phrased it: “Weblog technology can be used to enhance Corporate/Business communications and KM.”
Thus far I haven’t written much on this theme, but it’s something that’s been percolating and bubbling away in my brain over the past year or so. It’s a very important subject to me, because I’m keen to marry my interest in weblogging technologies to my day job. If my life was an XML file, then my goal with blogging would be to do an XSLT transfer from Amateur to Professional. It’s that old maxim about getting paid for what you love doing. I’d dearly love to get paid to develop weblogs, but realistically the only way for me to do that is to introduce weblogging and similar technologies (such as Wikis) to my company.
My day job is Web Producer in a medium-sized New Zealand company. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is potential for weblogging technology to be used at my workplace, on our Intranet in particular. The company I work for is very project-oriented, as opposed to being run by a bunch of middle managers. This type of culture, I believe, could take advantage of weblog technologies internally to disseminate project and other business information. There are many advantages to a project-oriented culture – e.g. it’s a flat hierarchy and so it’s more dynamic and responsive to change, kind of like the Web in fact. However one of the disadvantages of a project-oriented workplace is that information stays within silos. One project team often won’t know what another project team is doing, even though there may be a lot of knowledge they could share that would be mutually beneficial and therefore benefit the company as a whole.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to try and kick-start some weblogging and wiki initiatives in my company, to get information flowing like it should. I’m an established personal blogger now, and one of only two people in my company who even knows what weblogging is, so I’m in a unique position to begin implementing weblog technologies in ‘the real world’. Of course there’s still the issue that ‘normal people’ have no interest in writing. As Nova Spivack memorably put it recently: “I like blogging. Everyone I know likes blogging. But let’s face it, we are all a bunch of geeks.”
Nevertheless, corporate blogging has potential. I forsee weblogging and wiki technologies will be most useful in enabling bottom-up Knowledge Management in my company – via our Intranet.
Looking around the Web, it’s quite hard to find practical information on using weblog technology in a corporate setting. What I have found so far seems to be mostly related to using weblogs as an external marketing tool. For example, Dina Mehta pointed to a Microsoft Marketing manager who uses blogging to converse with his customers. That’s great, but external blogging isn’t suitable for the place I work for. You really need to have a significant proportion of customers/clients who are both tech-savvy and motivated to use the Web regularly, in order to achieve anything with external blogging. So the internal Intranet is where I must focus my attention.
Keith Robinson regularly writes about using weblogging technology on his company’s intranet. He uses Movable Type for parts of his employer’s Intranet. I’ve found Keith’s articles to be very useful and relevant to me – check out a recent article from him that describes how he implemented MT for a Policies & Procedures website. Using weblog tools as an easy-to-use and adaptable Content Management System is one way to introduce blogging into corporations. DL Byron notes:
“I’m consulting for a large corporation and it’s fascinating to watch my peers embrace blogs and blogging. They’re still working out how to use them internally, but have had success externally and I expect the same. Besides the communication within teams, I’m trying to help them understand the simple content management aspect of blogging.”
I agree that success in corporate blogging has been mainly with external customer-facing blogs, and mostly sales and technology-oriented ones at that. Also don’t forget about people like Robert Scoble, who is pushing the boundaries between personal/corporate blogging. His opinions are his own and he doesn’t speak for Microsoft, yet he is quite obviously hyping his employer for all it’s worth on his blog. His readers push back too, which is a sign of Robert’s success and perhaps points the way forward for Political Candidates – involve your audience, engage them in conversations.
Today Digital Web asked “Is it year of the blog for corps?” I think it may be the year that internal company blogging begins to gain traction. My own corporate blogging efforts will probably be in the Knowledge Management arena – my users will be employees rather than customers. Plus my company already has an easy-to-use Content Management system for the Intranet, so I don’t need to use weblog tools as a CMS.
I see that the upcoming SXSW (South by Southwest Interactive Festival) will have a panel called “Blogging for Business”, featuring Keith Robinson and DL Byron. I’d love to go along to that, however I’ll be stuck on the other side of the world. Hopefully someone does a write-up of it.