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My Blog Rules

After spending the last 10 days with my head applied to strategy in the Arizona desert for DiamondWare, I found that each day was another day where not blogging irked me. In the end my blog rules and both parties are going our separate ways. I found myself in a situation which was effectively taking my blog and voice away from me. That was never my intent, and my interest remains with building innovative new products at the intersection of social software, collaboration, VoIP and mobility.

I think it is unlikely that I will be at a loose end for long. My blog has already proved that to me on numerous occasions.

So these are some thoughts for bloggers and companies that are negotiating on blogging. I'm sure there are other possible lessons out there. What is your blog worth to you? If you were blogging and see yourself in a situation where the environments takes you away from it then consider what it means. Less accelerated learning, reduced access to external experts, and reduced profile. Blogs also test companies. Do they want to be closed rather than open? Will they run scared rather than lead? Etc.

I now know that blogs can take on a life of their own. I titled this post "My Blog Rules" slightly tongue in cheek to write some thoughts on the rules that have to happen for bloggers and companies to work together. I'd add there are enormous benefits for the organization that has the guts to acquire a free thinking dedicated blogger.

1. You will get someone who is likely to promote the category and the industry.
2. They will provide expert insights and capture inquiry and information from external sources.
3. They will 'play' with the thought leaders in the category in a trusted environment. Result - accelerated learning and access that can eventually lead to some level of promotion for the company's products
4. They bring visibility to the company's products and brands. As an employee you are likely to highlight strengths of your products. Robert Scoble does it so well. It does not stop him from commenting on and learning from other products or brands in the category. Benefit - tease and ease the process of truly communicating your offerings step by step, rather than a one-shot corporate webpage.

Blog Rules:

  • For blogs to work there must be trust. Let it be a warning to you when an employer is critical of your blog, or implies that they must approve every post you make first.
  • Blogs are strategic, but the messages must be personal. Planning out a blog strategy and topics in advance fails to account for the immediacy of the daily events and the need for responsiveness.
  • Make sure the company is large enough to have "personalities" blogging --- otherwise own the company. The blogger is likely to become an important public face.
  • Think through where the blog should be on what URL. Is it better at blogperson.com or under the corporate banner? What is best to harness the blogger and readers?

    Warnings to other Bloggers:

  • Your blog may be perceived as a personal asset and not a corporate one. You personal blog can become a corporate asset but only if the conditions above apply.
  • Corporate positioning is a must. If the company isn't mature enough or is afraid to enable the blogger to talk about "category" developments then blogging will be difficult.
  • If topics and content are limited then you may lose your friends, lose access to thought leadership and potential partnerships and associates for the company - or even simply good press.
  • If the company fears balanced perspective on other products then you will find life difficult.
  • Blogs require a time commitment, if you are not getting it or there is no time left over for it then it is not valued. My target has always been in the ten hours a week category. That includes the use of my newsreader. Make sure your employer signs off on the time commitment to the blog.
  • If the company asks you when you will transfer your blog URL to the company then they really don't get it.

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    Comments (1)

    Welcome back .... I think it's quite difficult to be an independent thinker, and a critical thinker, and articulate, and stay in line - on an ongoing basis - with most companies' mission and culture.

    And, going forward, I think that this phenomenon is something more and more companies, both small and large will have to lcome to grips with, and learn some adaptability.

    And I think blogs are, or will be, a large part of this adaptation. For better or worse, most "knowledge work" is done mainly online, and/or in conversations in meetings. Both of these are core to blogs.

    A corporation can't, I don't think, control minds and voices. Oh, they do in many cases, and have a menagerie of tools such as competency models, performance management, pay for performance, peer pressure and so on .... but it seems that one of the things that goes along with intelligence, creativity and innovation is some degree of independence of mind as a human being.

    I'm sure that much of what i wrote may not be pertinent to your case, and even so, i think that these issues contribute a lot to the "mass customization of work", which I think is a foregone conclusion. marching in formation, lockstep, is sometimes useful for gettimng things done in organizations, but I don't think it can be the ongoing m.o. all the time ... not in this every-which-way interlinked world.

    The social and interactive dynamics of blogs are very interesting to watch as they continue to develop. I see more and more purposeful blog ponds cropping up all the time, and more focus and more outcome-directed activities.

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