The evolution of the online and social media world just amazes me. And this is coming from someone who has probably used the Internet for more years of her life than years she hasn’t used it. But it still amazes me because people my age (mid-twenties) literally became adults and grew up alongside the expansion and the “growing up” of the online and social media community.
For example, when I was in middle school, the internet was in its “middle school” stage with the AOL boom. Then there was the progression of the awkward teenage years with AIM and Friendster , then we moved to college, blossoming in new life changing experiences. It was at the same time that Facebook exploded onto the scene as what many have called a life-changing social network. (And it really is). Now, here we are, as adults with careers, viewing social media and the online space as full blown, “adult” tools that CEOs can use to generate meaningful results for their companies. Completely fascinating.
So… that brings me to: these days, anyone can blog. The evolution of social media and blogging throughout the past 9 or 10 years has taught us that much. But the $100,000 questions are, SHOULD you blog — and if you do, WHY are you blogging? These are the first factors a CEO should consider when thinking about starting a blog.
According to Scott Rosenberg, author of “Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why it Matters,” it is definitely true that anyone can blog (and can blog as a credible source, if you can prove your credibility and authenticity) regardless of the “curmudgeon” journalists and others back in the day who thought that the only credible news bearers could be members of the traditional media.
That said, CEOs looking to start a blog should know that the majority of the informed public does not agree with these old curmudgeon journalists. In fact, according to the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, key public audiences actually trust the traditional media less and particularly, “in a year fraught with economic confusion and uncertainty, informed publics place the most trust in expert spokespeople and informational sources.”
This is esepecially good news for a CEO who is trying to answer that question of whether he/she should blog. In most cases, the answer is YES, and the reason is (in addition to the above), as we learned in class last week: the main reasons people blog are to be perceived as an expert and to influence others. And considerable results can come from a CEO being perceived as an influential expert, such as an increase in company sales, employee growth, and/or your brand becoming a leader in the industry.
Before a CEO starts blogging, however, I would recommend to him/her that he/she become familiar with the Cluetrain Manifesto – or at least the most important Cluetrain theses. I think it is important for a CEO as an expert blogger to understand the main Cluetrain theses as the foundation of social media, most importantly: markets are conversations and that it is essential to blog using a human-sounding voice. This will be the key to achieving the success of being perceived as an expert among your target audiences, which will lead to achieving those ultimate business goals.
The last words of advice I would recommend to a CEO wanting to start his/her own blog would be to look at which of your competitors have blogs and follow them. What are they saying and how/why? Are they honest and transparent? (per Edelman results again) Who is the audience? How have these blogs generated success for THEIR companies?
A CEO should think of their blog as an exciting, effective way to engage stakeholders on a more multi-dimensional and interactive level. He/she should think about it as a way to bring those stakeholders along with them as they grow , in whatever way that may be.
Like I said, pretty fascinating.
Until next week –