by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - October 6, 2005 Posted: 6:39:31 PM EDT
This blog was featured in the Sunday Times, Singapore last weekend. Here's the article.
Blogs go corporate
Companies big and small are using blogs to engage staff and customers but caution rules.
By Yeo Ying Ying , Straits Times
2 Oct 2005
Read the full article here : http://it.asia1.com.sg/newsdaily/news001_20051003.html
Here are the original responses to Selina Yeo's very incisive questions.
- When did you start this blog?
I started blogging around early December 2004, around 6 months after it occurred to me that I should blog. I shared it with my team, built the blog engine and the 'current skin' design and never looked back since.
- What do you blog about?
I blog about my work as an online branding practitioner. Other than that, I blog about subjects like, the importance of good leadership, family life, books, movies, food etc. I also blog about being a Malaysian, an ethnic Chinese living in a plural society. Most of the time, I don't think I consciously stick to a topic. If at all, I blog because I am responding to a situation at work or in life. I blog when I think I have something to say.
- How often do you blog?
I make it a point to blog about 2-3 times a week.
- Do you know how many readers frequent your blog? Has readership been growing?
I've been told by some people they 'stalk' my blog so I think I have readers who read my blog everyday or every other day. My readership has grown but the last time I check, there wasn't a stampede anywhere near my blog.
- What benefits do a corporate blog like yours bring to XiMnet Malaysia as a company and to the solutions/ products it offers? What are the advantages you see for an employee to blog about his or her company?
We get sales we never could have gotten because our blog. We get people who can identify with our values and our beliefs and they've become our 'brand ambassadors' and refer business to us. Our blog drive web traffic to us through Google and create a broader awareness about what we do.
Seth Godin in his book Idea Virus said that the Internet is a very viral medium. A blog in that way is very contagious medium of communication due to its one-to-one model. It has a kind of intimacy that open doors where other mediums might not. So in a way, we are lucky to have realized this early and we have managed to adopt this new medium of corporate communication effectively. A blog is essentially an effective tool to subvert current corporate communication practices.
A blog brings out the human in you rather than hide it. It reveals who you are rather than conceal it. Because the world is fast changing due to rapid technology changes and socio-political upheavals, blogging becomes the medium and the message of change. I think the blogging phenomenon fills a void in our world where people are looking for authenticity rather than manufactured lies. Within context, I believe we stand out amongst our competitors because we have managed to cultivate a 'distinct voice', a story about who we are and shaped a brand identity for XiMnet through the blog. Some companies might pay thousands of dollars for get that kind of exposure but I think we have managed to get a gain a good amount of publicity and brand mileage with our blog.
- Are there any other XIMNET Malaysia corporate bloggers beside yourself? How was it determined who gets to blog?
I have heard that the CEO of 8TV has a blog. I am not sure he still does. I know some business consultants are blogging but they are not what you might terms as 'corporate blogs'. Recently I spoke at a seminar and two CEOs spoke to me and indicated they are keen to get started ASAP. When we first started, 3 of us were supposed to blog from our different roles. I guess I finally ended up blogging for the company because I have been given the role as voice of the team. I also think I don't find writing that painful an exercise.
- What was the motivation for XiMnet Malaysia to go into corporate blogging?
It is important to say that blogging is not only good for external communications alone but it is also a powerful internal bonding, information sharing medium. Here are the 8 reasons why we blog:
- To differentiate - to paint with broad strokes the character of our team, at work and at play.
To give voice to our values and to share our insights using the informal story-telling format. Also to give voice to our hopes and dreams.
- To demonstrate 'Authenticity' - as people who are passionate about our work.
- To share our experiences as a group of people to encourage to others in similar setups.
- To attract like-minded people as our customers and partners/friends and future team-members.
- Myth-making: To frame the story of our journey in a way the team can understand, for inspiration, pacing and motivation.
- To enhance our Search Engine Marketing positioning and lead generation strategy.
- To close the communication gaps in the negotiation process through inference of values from the blog entries.
- What does XiMnet Malaysia hope to achieve by introducing and supporting corporate blogs?
I believe corporate blogging can allow a certain amount of transparency into the culture and practices of an organization. By this, I mean not only in the regulatory sense of the word but also in the sense of being a human-being in the business world. I see myself first as a human being who happened to be a business person and not a businessman who happened to be human. I think now, after September 11, ENRON, WORLDCOM, the Iraq War, etc, more and more people are interested in the human-being in you. People will ask,'Who are you? What are your values? What do you really care about? Why should I buy your products and services? What are your primary motivations in business? What do you stand for ultimately?'
If you switch on your listening mode, you will notice that people are caught between being fearful, detached, and cynical and being really wanting to reach out and embrace others and forge a common destiny for our human race. I think our world is changing. Blogging is an idea which's time has come.
- Have the corporate blogs been successful in achieving such purposes? How does XiMnet Malaysia measure the effectiveness of their corporate blogs?
Yes, our corporate blog is working out. I think the sales increase, the rising awareness and publicity about who we are and what we do, our Google positioning and this interview and many others are an indication, are all adding up for us.
- Will corporate blogging be merely a fad or a lasting phenomenon? Can you please comment on the trend of corporate blogging in Asia Pacific and its opportunities for growth in APAC?
Corporate blogging won't go away as much as the Internet will not go away. It is a medium that will be quickly adopted by savvy CEOs, Chief Marketing Officers, PR Managers, etc. As a matter of fact, Microsoft is big into promoting blogging for its IT pros, developers and customer-service people. Tom Peters blogs like he won't live to see tomorrow. I think some people get it and some people don't but I think it will be rapidly adopted in Asia Pacific as the trend spreads from the US to the rest of the world.
- How do you view the future of blogging as a medium for an organization's marketing/ communication strategy?
I think in 5 years, every self-respecting company will be a blog. The blogging model might span rapidly to cover all aspects of business activities such as customer service, product and services marketing, technical support, product evaluation, etc. The human need to bond and communicate authentically will shape the business world. Blogging will play its role within the larger set of things.
- In your opinion, will blogs become as influential as mainstream media?
Blogging will supplement where mainstream media is weak now. Blogging will excel as a form of one-to-one communication and it will ultimately become a part of mainstream media. Companies that have embraced corporate blogging are mostly technology companies.
- Do you think more companies will follow suit in future?
Like the adoption of the Internet as a communication and business platform, blogging won't stop with the tech companies. Blogging is a Hi-Touch thing. Businesses in the Hi-Touch segments will do well to quickly seize the blogging phenomenon and leverage on its inherent strength. Like what John Naisbitt predicts, societies are going to rapidly move towards a Hi-Touch lifestyle. Hi-Tech without Hi-Touch is quite alienating in the long run. So I think in 5 years, we will all be amazed how versatile and powerful this 'neophyte of a blog thing' will be as a medium of change in our world.
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