FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

    Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

    Full Name

    Email

    Referred by


    FULL COURSE DETAILS HERE

  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

    Join me on Twitter at @BlogCoach




    I was interested to read an article entitled “It takes a Web Village” in a recent edition of BusinessWeek that a number of high profile companies such as GSK, Kraft and Hewlett Packard had been turning their attention to the use of online communities when researching the perception of their brands and development of new products.

    In the particular cases mentioned, they used a bespoke private online community by linking up with Communispace to provide an environment in which they can work with a defined set of respondents to help them in evaluating new product ideas and, in the process develop additional thoughts and ideas.

    There are two aspects to this – firstly the general use of an online environment for this type of research and secondly the selection of the right tools to achieve it. The benefits of using online communities in this way seem clear it is an ideal opportunity for companies to get real feedback from the people that matter most. Their customers. However, the price tag of this type of set up is probably out of reach for many of the companies that would most benefit from it.

    So, would a blog be a good substitute to a custom built environment for small and medium sized companies? I believe so.

    A business blog is already an great way to create networks and communities of people interested in a certain topic, market or area. By then managing the development and use of the blog, you can set-up an ideal community environment in which to test ideas, get feedback and encourage open discussion between your customers.

    You can easily set up a closed blog, just as you might do with an internal blog, or alternatively there is of course the option of a closed area within a current blog set-up. There are already examples of closed or semi-closed environments being used for specific purposes; a product development blog is one such example.

    So, how might they be used and what would you expect to gain from them? Well, they could be used:

    • to test discuss ideas for new products and product concepts

    • to test new marketing ideas in terms of promotions, offers, packaging ideas, advertising etc.

    • for surveys which could either be carried out using a threaded discussion and/or a simple tick the box multiple choice

    • to elicit feedback on products by providing an open forum where people can express opinions and discuss specific questions

    • to get an insight as to how you compare with other products on the market

    • debating offers and the appeal of them

    By incorporating images or video into the blog, concept testing and sampling can be done using full mock-ups or demos, and at all times the discussions can be directed if required simply by participating in the conversations as they happen. Feedback will tend to be almost instantaneous and the insights from the consumer-to-consumer conversations will be there without any filtering or “interpretations”. At the end of the process, you will also have the benefit of a community of product champions who will feel part of the development of the product.

    Are there companies who could not benefit from this? Well, you would need to be interested in hearing what your customers have to say, but thats true of any business blog. Soliciting peoples opinion and then totally ignoring it is never going to be a winning strategy to adopt. Other than that, it seems to me that using the key blog elements of communication and interactivity in this highly focused way to gain insight about your customers, products and marketplace can only be positive.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    1 Comment 
    Tags: , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blogs for Market Research and Focus Groups
    2. Product Evangelists and Product Blogs
    3. Which companies can particularly benefit from blogs?
    4. Internal Blogs: Benefits and Uses of Team Blogs
    5. 8 types of companies that can really benefit from a Business Blog

    Most of the talk and information relating to Business Blogs centres on external blogs: those which focus outside of the company and are designed to communicate out to customers and prospects. However, arguably the type of Business Blog which currently has the largest number of users is the internal blog, designed to improve communications within an organisation.

    Using blogs for internal communications is an important and growing area, and a key use of internal blogs within this is for Team Blogs. Good communication and interaction is part and parcel of a successful team, whatever its focus, particularly when the teams members may not know each other or have the opportunity to frequently meet face to face. Happily, a blog offers the chance to develop the interrelationships and the communications no matter where the team members are based.

    Teams are brought together for a myriad of different reasons but they do have in common five key requirements at a communication and information level:

      1.Good communications between its members;
      2.The ability for all members to participate fully;
      3.Easy collaboration across the team;
      4.Dissemination of the results;
      5.A permanent record of the information, results and conclusions.

    Internal Blogs are able to help in each of these key team areas and, by being able to be set up quickly and easily, can be up and running as soon as the team requires it.

    The benefits that a team blog offers

    These key elements for a team to work well together are all areas where a blog can help. In particular, a many to many method of communication is important to ensure the dissemination of information and allow all members of the team to participate and contribute equally.

    Internal Business Blogs can offer the following benefits to teams, whatever their goals:

    • Group communication: it is critical that all team members know what is going on and are able to communicate in an open yet trackable environment. A blog can provide such an environment and involve everybody.

    • Sharing information: for successful team interaction, it is important that the information is easily shared between all parties and can be added to by all. A blog and RSS will allow information to be spread quickly and safely which offering a non technical route to adding content;

    • Discussion Area: discussion and sharing of ideas will help to develop the team and its aims. It is important that all team members can participate by seeing others ideas and being able to add their own. Using blog categories, independent ideas and streams can be discussed and developed in tandem.

    • Information Resource: there will be key documents that everybody needs to have access to – a blog is an ideal way to store this information and make it available to everyone. This may take the form of a project journal in the case of project teams.

    • Project Resource: information and knowledge which is accumulated during the course of a project is so often then lost to the rest of the company once the project is completed. A blog will provide and ongoing repository for this which will benefit all going forward.

    By having all of these elements in place, the foundations are there to allow the team to move forward and concentrate on its specific aims.

    Types of internal teams that can benefit

    So, what sort of teams could benefit most from the opportunities and communication abilities afforded by a team blog? Some of the main ones that are worth mentioning are:

    • Ad hoc teams: teams that have come together to run short-term projects need to have a central resource which is quick to set up and easy to use;

    • Project Teams: a blog can be used to record and communicate the progress of a project (ie. a project journal) as well as allow easy sharing of information between the project team members;

    • Product Development Team Blogs: one of the key areas in many companies and the ones which understand the process best will open the blog up to external participants and create a team of product evangelists in the process;

    • Function specific teams (such as HR managers from across the organisation): a blog could be used to share experiences from all areas in the organisation as well as a place to develop and debate ideas which could then be used as the definitive resource to communicate them to all relevant managers;

    • Cross functional teams: teams bringing together members from different functions are looking for input from all these areas to create real value in the team. A blog allows everyone to participate and makes sure that brainstorming ideas can be given the chance to be developed fully;

    • Department Teams: use the blog as a central resource for a department which might include sharing competitor information, industry news, templates, best practice etc.

    • Quality Circles: group of workers from the same functional area who meet regularly to examine and look for solutions to work related problems and opportunities for improvement.

    Of course, the widest team of all is the company as a whole which itself could benefit from using a Business Blog as an internal communications tool, perhaps in addition to any intranet that may already be in place.

    With internal teams being formed ever more frequently for specific projects, the possibility of not making full use of the members of the team or not retaining the knowledge gathered at the end of the project is an increasingly worrying possibility. However, by using an internal team blog, you can easily minimise these possible downsides and let the team get on with the job for which they were brought together.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    11 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Internal Communications, Information Sharing and Internal Blogs
    2. Business blog content (and business) via collaboration
    3. eCourse Part 1: Introduction to Business Blogs and their benefits
    4. Predictions for 2007
    5. RSS Benefits for Businesses, Bloggers and Publishers

    I’ve been reading Naked Conversations again this week – such a good read with so many elements in it that are worthy of comment.

    However, my focus this week has been on product based blogs, whether they are focused on the product development phase or the product management and marketing phase. In both cases, the focus remains steadfastly on customers and there was a set of recommendations quoted which had come from Creating Corporate Evangelists which I found to be particularly relevant. These were:

    • continuously gather customer feedback;

    • make it a point to share knowledge freely;

    • expertly build word of mouth networks;

    • encourage communities of customers to meet and share;

    • devise specialised, smaller offerings to get customers to bite;

    • focus on making the world, or your industry, better.

    Although not specifically focused on blogs, if you can follow these recommendations as you develop your product based blog around your product, then you will create something which will foster the idea of ownership and community. This in turn will develop a buzz around your product and, as the title of the book says, create product evangelists who will be out there promoting your product at any opportunity.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Using Blogs as Communities for Research and Development
    2. Blogs for Market Research and Focus Groups
    3. Internal Blogs: Benefits and Uses of Team Blogs
    4. Blogs as Social and Business Networks
    5. Who owns YOUR social network? You?