Posts filed under ‘political blogs’

Facebook marketers beware. It’s two-way. And public.

Every corporate blogger project job description, whether it’s a blogger job, or a broader online communications position, includes some reference to “social media marketing”, often specific to Facebook, MySpace, or other social media platforms.  Corporate blogging is migrating toward using social media platforms for traditional marketing techniques, and skill within Facebook is at a premium.

However, it is entirely likely that corporate blog projects are wandering into Facebook with blinders on.

For example – I’ve been “friending” random famous people on Facebook, out of curiosity on a number of levels.  I want to see if, say, Denzel Washington, or Bob Woodard actually checks his Facebook page.  I learned that some famous people do.

Chatted with CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin once, just to ask if it was really him or his assistant – I’m pretty sure Rachel Maddow and Bob Woodward didn’t friend me themselves – Toobin was there, and said it was him.  That was pretty cool.

I’ve discovered that said famous people are using Facebook entirely to market themselves.  There is simply no reason for Warren Lazarow, world famous venture capital attorney, to friend me back other than to build his list.  Which he did.

Which brings me to The New York Times columnist Matt Bai.

Like Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, CNN’s Rick Sanchez, and MSBNC’s Rachel Maddow, I friended Matt Bai purely out of a political blogger’s interest in his work, and out of curiosity to see if he’d friend back.  He did.  Neither of us know each other from Adam.  But now we’re “friends” on Facebook, which means I can email him, post items to his “Wall” on Facebook, invite him to events, etc., so that all our friends can see it.

I posted on Matt’s Facebook Wall (a hybrid of a blog and email) a hard criticism of a recent column.  Matt took offense, and proceeded to respond via my Facebook Wall.  It led to an exchange which got cumbersome, so I posted all the comments from both our Facebook Walls to my blog, so they were all in one place.

Matt didn’t like that.

Second, serious bloggers don’t post other people’s private communications on their blogs.

My response.

second, this is not private. it’s my wall on facebook, through which you reach 317 other people. you reach more now through my blog. i’d think that would be where you’d want to respond, i.e., in the forum in which i made the criticism.

The conversation between Matt and I was available to the combined total of 777 people on Facebook.  It is not the first time I posted blog criticism of my Facebook “friends” on Facebook, and said “friends” took offense.  Sometimes, I’m even more mischievous than this with my not so friendly “friends”, who use Facebook to merely build their list, unaware that some of their “friends” aren’t really friends at all.

Herein lies the warning to corporate bloggers who seek to use Facebook for marketing purposes.

First of all, IT IS PUBLIC. True, it is not Googlable, and true, it is limited access, but every person who is in your Facebook friendlist, and their friends, will see what you do.  If you use Facebook merely to build a list to which you will market, you are completely missing the point of Facebook and walking into a trap.

Second, the point of Facebook is to INTERACT. Social media is about being SOCIAL with MEDIA, and that means that if you engage in Facebook, you should expect people to talk back to you.  Yes, Facebook will help you build a powerful targeted list, but that list is not static.  It will engage. And it will likely engage, at some point, unpredictably, outside your marketing strategy, and perhaps with critical intent.

Matt Bai certainly “friended” me as a marketing tool, as I’m sure any high profile columnist at any newspaper would do with any random person who friended them.  When Matt Bai found out that his Facebook list could talk back to him, put his comments on a blog, and make a fool of him for thinking Facebook is somehow “private communication”, I’m sure he was a bit surprised.

Corporate bloggers who use Facebook for marketing have a lesson to learn here.


August 26, 2008 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

B2B story on corporate blogging

I found this bit interesting.

BtoB recently interviewed key bloggers and social media experts at these companies to take the pulse of corporate blogging. The conversations reveal the following trends: the emergence of “chief blogger” as a corporate job title; the globalization and segmentation of corporate blogs; the emergence of accepted metrics for measuring the success of blogging efforts (see sidebar, page 48); and mixed feelings about CEO blogs.

The article proves my essential point about corporate blogs – very few corporate blogs think about any of this before setting up the blog.  There’s a lot of “emerging” going on.  A “chief blogger” as a corporate job title shouldn’t “emerge” after you’ve got a blog.  It should exist before the blog is launched.  Segmentation, metrics, and mixed feelings, all should be aired out long before the blog is launched, not encountered as it “emerges” on your corporate blogosphere presence.  That costs money.

Another story appeared in my home paper, about blogging, and it points out a lot of the pitfalls and opportunities.

The greatest benefit a good blog or community forum can offer is suggestions, said Scott O’Leary, managing director of customer experience for Continental Airlines…

But blogs have forced her to play another role. Now she coaches her clients on how to handle negative blog postings about their businesses.  People are more likely to take the trouble to post comments when they’re upset about something….

Still, participating in blogs is time-consuming, and he was skeptical about starting his own blog until a year ago. He expected two-way conversations. That doesn’t happen much….

Expectations?  Most businesses enter the blogosphere without having spent any significant time blogging, or reading blogs, or even learning about them.  How can they have “expectations”?

In the political blogosphere, one enters the fray out of interest, and an expectation that you will engage.  That has set the basic rule set for the blogosphere as a whole.  I learned early on in my political blogging that whatever you say, someone will be out there to disagree, agree, argue, or applaud.  That kind of environment necessarily forces the blogger to expect very little, other than the conversation, and the social interaction such a new media delivers.

The defining human quality of social interaction is its unpredictability.  The best way to prepare for that is to set the goals for your corporate blog presence before you start the blog.

June 9, 2008 at 8:51 pm Leave a comment

Corporate blog assignment – See Obama v. Clinton.

As it appears the end of the Democratic primary is upon us, I’ve had some corporate communication types ask me, “What does this mean? For me?” The question inherently recognizes that something is going on in the American body politic, and that it must mean something for business. And that it probably has something to do with blogs.

Completely self-serving for a political blogger? Sure. Still true? Care to chance it? Didn’t think so. Here’s a tiny, tiny bit of what I think this all means for corporate blogs, and why the victory of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton is the perfect analogy any corporation needs to study before they enter the blogosphere.

There is money to be had. Lots.

The figures raised online for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are staggering – they now approach half a billion dollars. How did this happen? And what does it mean for my business?

Social media and the internet, largely fueled by blogs and the opinion-leaders of the blogosphere, have created a new arena in which peer-reviewed recommendations create a critical mass from which huge sums of money flow almost without effort. Barack Obama led the way, through pioneering use of the internet, and Hillary Clinton simply had to follow.

An example. Early in the contest, political bloggers criticized the Obama campaign for a lack of “outreach” to blogs, while the Clinton campaign made a point of holding blogger conference calls, advertising on blogs, and cluing in opinion-leading bloggers to insider stuff. Obama’s approach was bottom-up; raise the money, build the lists, connect everyone, and the rest will come. Clinton’s was top-down; work the opinion-leaders, pay them off with ads, and get them to lead their readers.

We know which one worked. Major bloggers took a step back from the heavy handed approach, and simultaneously began to see their readership leading them. The dollars started to pile up, as friends encouraged friends to donate. Soon the major bloggers’ hands were forced by their own readers. A tipping point can’t be readily identified right now, but the ecosystem created by the Obama campaign became so powerful that he now raises money every time he breathes, at the rate of $54 per second.

That is the power of social media, given the chance to operate on authenticity.

Old world vs. The Blogosphere

The sale of goods and services doesn’t engender much passion normally. Politics does, and politics is in the DNA of the blogosphere. When a corporation meets the blogosphere, the company will inevitably intersect with a thriving community of veteran advocates ready to engage on their terms, not the company’s. Navigating these waters is treacherous business.

Just ask Bill Clinton. It’s been widely commented that Bill Clinton simply was not ready for the new media cycle, driven in large part by the blogosphere. He has misinterpreted his own misunderstanding for a bias toward his wife. Wrong. The one way conversation with the media which Bill Clinton (read: your company) was used to is gone. Anyone re-entering politics after last engaging in national politics in 1996 will find a universe of voices who talk back, who weren’t even imaginable in 1996, and who don’t respect the old rules.

The same will hold true for any company that enters the blogosphere today. The new rules will seem almost unfair, but are reality. If Bill Clinton, a master politician, was surprised by what met him and his wife in the blogosphere, imagine how your company’s board will react.

Example. I once talked to a manager at a major software company about blogs, and she was dismissive in an almost rude tone. Then one day one of her employees posted something negative about her company on a blog. She was enraged. Human resources went to battle stations. The president of the company got involved.

I just laughed, and this enraged her more. My response was that you may not know what a blog is, or care about it, until your name appears on one. That’ll get you to read blogs. Real fast. And from that point on, constantly. In the political blogosphere, hand to hand combat like this was the rule from the day the first blog launched. There isn’t a single battle a political blogger worth his salt hasn’t seen, from all sides, many times. The way a corporate blog presence engages this kind of combat will decide who wins.

Authenticity rules. From now on.

The repeated attempts to tar Barack Obama as a Muslim terrorist, then as a Christian radical, all were fed by the blogosphere. Emails and Youtubes were picked up by opinion-leading bloggers and gave the story an undercurrent that eventually crashed in waves over the mainstream media. Barack Obama engaged the controversy with an authenticity that is hard to put a finger on, but that was simply required by the situation.

This will happen to your company. If not soon, then soon enough. The blogosphere is a place where controversy, lies, and smears spread like wildfire. And when this happens, to your company, perhaps because of something on your blog, authenticity in the blogosphere will be the only way out.

It was the only way out for Barack Obama. Herein lies a paradox. In the old one-way-conversation world, not only would the Muslim/Wright controversies likely not have occurred (first half of paradox) but if they had, (second half) they would have sunk his campaign. In the new world, dominated and led by a blogosphere that hunts down lies like white blood cells to destroy them, a conversation began instead of a firing squad. And in that conversation, if Barack Obama had displayed one scintilla of phoniness, he’d have been done. Finished.


These are just a few thoughts that have been springing into my mind lately, now that Barack Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee. People dismiss the talk of change, but being dismissive of something that is moving under your feet is usually a mistake.

June 2, 2008 at 1:24 am Leave a comment

Welcome to Corporate Blog Review

I recently had a conversation with a friend who does corporate bloggy things, and the bottom line was this… most corporate blogs suck, right?

Well, yes.  But they don’t have to.  So I’ve decided to start this blog to do my own snarky thing, which I usually do with politics, but this time with corporate blogs.

Every board room in America is having this conversation –

We need a blog.  I have no idea what that is.  But we need one.  Now.

Before we get started, have a look at my series of reviews of political blogs in Ohio.  That’ll be a good jumping off point for any marketing or PR division head getting ready to take the dive.  Then come back here, and we’ll start the reviews.

In the meantime, make suggestions for corporate blogs that need a good going over.

May 11, 2008 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment