Blogosphere denial can hurt your business

Technology moves fast. But you know that. It is your job, after all. Even so, sometimes it catches us all by surprise. Web logs, or blogs as they have become known, are barely a decade old as a publishing medium, but they are part of the mainstream media. And they should be part of your daily routine, as an author, a reader or a commenter.

Technology moves fast. But you know that. It is your job, after all. Even so, sometimes it catches us all by surprise. Web logs, or blogs as they have become known, are barely a decade old as a publishing medium, but they are part of the mainstream media. And they should be part of your daily routine, as an author, a reader or a commenter.

You may think that blogging is just a silly hobby, where people post pictures of their cats or blog about what they had for breakfast. Sure, such blogs exist, but the blogosphere is a far richer place than that.

According to research conducted by Universal McCann, 73% of regular internet users have or read a blog. Dig down a little deeper and you find that just a smidgin under 50% are weekly blog readers. Twenty five per cent of people read blogs about products, and a similar number read about computers.

What is the betting that, if you segmented the IT industry folks out of those numbers, the percentages would be far higher?

Blogging is a key communication tool that cannot be ignored. Take the case of Jeff Jarvis, a well-known journalism blogger, who poured out his frustrations with Dell in a post called Dell Hell. A couple of years after the firestorm, Dell is widely praised for its own blogging.

Some companies remain refuseniks, but most IT companies are blogging at the very least in an unofficial way, although most do it in a sanctioned manner.

And that is important, because users are out there, talking about their products every day. Some are sharing their complaints about the tools they use. Some are expressing their enthusiasm and passion.

The age when the marketing people could control the message, and access to developers and product managers was jealously guarded, has passed into memory. Now developers can talk directly to their user base, and the users can feed right back.

In other industries, companies still have an excuse for not joining in. Their users are not tech-savvy, perhaps, or work outdoors and are away from their computers for long stretches of time. Even there, though, we are seeing rapid advances in blogging.

The readers of Farmers Weekly, a sister title to ComputerWeekly, are rapidly taking to blogging as a way of sharing information in difficult times for their industry.

The excuses have long since disappeared for ­anyone in technology. If you are a supplier, you should be out there, joining in the conversation around the product.

If you are a user, you should be helping shape the discussion about how the product might look in future releases. And if you are good, if you really know your stuff, you might just become one of the new wave of authoritative voices on technology that are taking over the blogo­sphere.

l Adam Tinworth is head of blog development at Reed Business Information




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