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Blog Early, Blog Often: Naked Conversations in the Morning

Nakedconversations Starting a regular practice of blogging sooner rather than later can bring benefits to businesses large and small, according to Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

Being the first kid on the block to start a blog makes your blog remarkable, whether your neighborhood is the Fortune 10 (e.g., General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz's blog, Fastlane) or Savile Row in London (e.g., tailor Thomas Mahon's blog, English Cut). That remarkability translates into GoogleJuice, attracting greater attention to your blog than, say, the second (or seventieth) kid on the block.  Of course, that remarkability can fade if one doesn't continue blogging regularly -- frequent updates of a page (e.g., a blog site) increases one's PageRank, a critical factor in maintaining one's prominence in the blogosphere.

Another advantage to entering the blogosphere sooner rather than later is that it enables you to establish your credentials -- primarily your passion and authority, revealed in a manner that also demonstrates authenticity and transparency -- before a crisis hits.  The authors provide examples of challenges that were well met and others that were not so well met.  When GM decided to withdraw advertising after negative coverage in the LA Times, a blog post was written to clear the air, and a negative comment on that post by a reporter was met by a response of 30 other comments supporting the action; this empowerment of readers as public relations associates was made possible by Bob Lutz and other GM guest bloggers having established their credentials through regular posts over the preceding 6 month period.  Another example was Scoble's quick response to an article criticizing Internet Explorer 7, where his refutation -- and corroboration by other bloggers -- helped to contain the damage that may have become far more widespread if the allegations had not been checked in such a timely manner.

On the opposite extreme, Kryptonite seemed largely unaware of the blogosphere when they were developing a strategy to respond to a report that their locks can be picked with a Bic pen; the blogosphere was quick to respond, highlighted by an Engadget video of how to hack a Kryptonite bike lock with a ball point pen seen by an estimated 1.8 million viewers.  Although the authors note that it cost $10M for Kryptonite to replace all the faulty locks, they may have done so even without the blogospheric prodding.  The cost to their reputation is more difficult to measure, as are the reputation costs incurred through similar problems encountered by Kensington with respect to blogospheric spotlight shined on their notebook computer locks and steering wheel locks.  I share the authors' conviction that blogging can help humanize an otherwise faceless organization, and that a listen and participate strategy -- through regular posting on a blog, along with reading and responding to comments there -- is more likely to engender trust and goodwill than the traditional command and control approach to public relations.  I don't believe these examples provide compelling examples of the risks of not adopting such a strategy, although I also believe the occurence of more compelling examples is simply a matter of time, given that less than 6% of the Fortune 500 companies are blogging, while the blogosphere at large recently surpassed 50 million members and is doubling every 6 months

The authors note that many successful business bloggers see blogging as a form of practice, and as with any form of practice, regular blogging often results in better blogging (through both the clarity that emerges from writing things down and the feedback one gets through comments and trackbacks).  One of the authors, Scoble, also notes that he tends to blog early -- around 4 a.m.  My own blogging practice started with mostly short, frequent posts, which have become longer and intermittent over time, and while I used to get up nearly every day at 4, I've often been "sleeping in" lately.

There are many more valuable insights and experiences shared by the authors in the book, and I see many connections to other books I've read (and, in some cases, blogged about).  However, as another example of preaching what I want to practice, I'm going to stop here, and leave some of the other gems as potential fodder for future posts, so that I can better practice what I'm preaching in the title, and blog early ... and often.

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