Should businesses blog?

I’m putting together a story about blogging for UK businesses, and I’d be interested in people’s opinions on the subject. Do you think firms – such as online shops, small firms, whatever – should be blogging, or would their time be better spent concentrating on the basics such as price, decent customer service and so on? Have you ever chosen a product based on what bloggers have said about it – or decided against a product because of bad word of mouth among bloggers? Would you trust a firm’s own weblog, or would you assume that everything’s being written under the harsh glare of PR types and control-freak bosses?

Any opinions would be very, very welcome.

PS: as I’m soliciting opinions for a written feature, I’m assuming that anyone who leaves a comment or emails me about this is happy for me to quote them in print. If you’d rather I didn’t, please say so in your comment or email. Thanks.

4 thoughts on “Should businesses blog?

  1. Stephen says:

    It’s a tough one. I have indeed used blogs for help with products, but never the company’s blog, always an independent blogger. (In fact, Apple don’t even allow their employees to blog, while Microsoft has thousands of bloggers: food for thought!)

    There’s an interesting discussion on gapingvoid about this. Hugh’s position is that blogs allow a company to have a conversation with their customers, which he feels is the only way to do marketing now. I think if you had an employee who really wanted to do it, and was passionate about your product, it could be very good. There are always people who want to know more about a company, get the inside track, and this could be a good way of letting them do so. I used to like reading John Carmack’s .plan file updates, for example; it added a human dimension to iD, and he used it to discuss, quite frankly, some pretty contentious issues, such as the internal split over whether to do Doom III.

    I think the answer is very much, it depends. For a company like Apple, with a highly polished and carefully created public image, it simply can’t afford not to micro-manage the customer interaction. For iD, on the other hand, I think it works. (Gabe Newell of Valve Software is another example.) This may be due to the highly differentiated and sophisticated nature of the gamer customer. Whatever the reason, I think the message to businesses is that this decision, like any other business decision, has no easy answers. You need to consider very, very carefully and honestly what you want to say to your customers and why, and as a result of that, blogging may or may not suggest itself as one of the tools to be used.

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