The Blog Council, Intentions vs. Execution

Behind these closed doors, a virtual council of big business marketers will meet to discuss how to best engage with people through blogs and all forms of social media.

The Blog Council exists as a forum for executives to meet one another in a private, vendor-free environment and share tactics, offer advice based on past experience, and develop standards-based best practices as a model for other corporate blogs.

Founding members include the leading companies from a diverse range of business sectors: AccuQuote, Cisco Systems, The Coca-Cola Company, Dell, Gemstar-TV Guide, General Motors, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, Nokia, SAP, and Wells Fargo.

According to the official press release, yes, that’s right, a press release, not even a Social Media Release or a blog post, just a traditional press release and a static Website, “Major corporations use blogs differently while abiding by the same rules and etiquette,” said Blog Council CEO Andy Sernovitz. “Individual and small-business bloggers don’t face the same issues. For example, we still need to deliver a responsible and effective corporate message, but we need to do it in the complicated environment of the blogosphere. We have to speak for a corporation, but never sound ‘corporate.’ And we have to learn to do it live, and in real-time.”

Yes, while the conversation was sparked, it’s not representative of the new thinking they so desire to learn and share.

The release continues, “Every major corporation is struggling with the question of how to use blogs and engage the blogosphere the right way,” said Sean O’Driscoll, General Manager, Community Support Services for Microsoft. “The Blog Council brings together precisely the people who need to explore these issues together, in a productive and private networking environment. We can work together to develop model policies that set the standard for corporate blogging excellence.”

The Blog Council was formed to talk about what to talk about and how, essentially. But the process of releasing this information to the world is indicative of just how much help big companies need in the somewhat intimidating, unforgiving, and globally connected realm of Social Media. There’s no place to hide anymore and big business is realizing that there’s more harm than good to come by recklessly experimenting in public forums.

I agree with Michael Arrington in his assessment of the name, Blog Council. The name itself implies something bigger, something more meaningful. Perhaps it’s the organization that should have formed to establish, promote, and enforce blog ethics and standards. Instead, big business has pinned its hopes on a name that inofitself is limited to only one form Social Media.

Perhaps as companies start to “get it” we’ll see the formation of new groups, such as the Micromedia Council, the Viral Media Council, and the Conversation Council.

If we’re to measure the merits of The Blog Council on intent, then I applaud their decision to improve how they engage with the blogosphere and the people that define it. But conversations take place in and around the blogosphere and that is why it’s called Social Media. Perhaps this is a first step towards something much more significant, such as the Social Media Council, which essentially is the foundation for the Social Media Club – whose motto is, “if you get it, share it.”

In order for this to truly be effective, big business and Social Media experts must share insight, questions, successes and failures in safe forums. An important oversight in many of these conversations about The Blog Council is that marketers can not learn or share anything if they are not first engaged in Social Media as people, as customers, as experts, and generally, as a genuine part of the communities they wish to reach.

Other voices on the subject:
Shel Holtz
Robert Scoble
Shel Israel
Kami Watson Huyse
Geoff Livingston
Mack Collier
David Parmet
Josh Hallett
John Cass
Dave Taylor

Connect with me on Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce or Facebook.

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  • Kami Huyse

    However, even with a regular news release they managed to get a lot of pick-up. Just sayin’ that if it is news, then it doesn’t matter if it comes in a paper bag.

    BTW, I love the SMNR, so no worries there.

    As for their name, I think this is really more of a networking group of peers than a definitive standards group. Still, I think their discussion will broaden to more than just blogs organically. I also don’t think that they will shut out outside voices, it seems to me that they are just trying to be clear about whom they will serve.

    My 2 cents anyway. Maybe I will have to eat my words later, but I see this as a good sign. Big companies are mainstreaming social media.

  • Brian Solis

    Kami, you are one of the more clear voices in the space, so I appreciate your comments.

    I agree and disagree with you.

    If you’re going to make a statement like this, the paper bag becomes representative of much more than a delivery mechanism. It’s an important statement and demonstration of intent.

    I truly believe the name is not appropriate and may also be representative of how big companies are looking at social media in general. Trust me, we all know their intentions are good, and I’m not here to take anything away from them.

    There are lessons to be learned in all of this…bottom line is that it’s bigger than the blogosphere and that should be the council’s focus.

    :)

  • Kami Huyse

    “bottom line is that it’s bigger than the blogosphere and that should be the council’s focus.”

    I would have to agree. It probably also goes beyond social media to whatever is next.

    These are fast-moving days my friend.

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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