Corporate Blogs, a new paradigm for product design

Backbone Media, an internet marketing and web development firm based outside of Boston, has published a meaty survey of corporate bloggers to try and get a sense of the motivations and best practices behind corporate blogs. Their survey, Corporate Blogging: Is it Worth they Hype? is the best piece out there today. Along with the empirical survey results are also the results of interviews with bloggers at

  • Annie’s Homegrown
  • IBM
  • iUpload
  • Macromedia
  • Maytag
  • Microsoft

Each of the studies here contain useful lessons. I particularly like the story behind Macromedia’s product marketing blogs which underscores the benefits of open channels of communication with customers to the product development process. I think IBM got a bit short-changed in this report as the blogger they interviewed didn’t seem to represent the enlightened viewpoints I’ve been reading.

What Backbone Media really is talking about is harnessing the conversations and relationships generated by well-written product blogs to drive future product development. Listening to customers shouldn’t be a revolutionary concept:

In essence blogs are learning tools, specifically a company can use a blog to learn how to improve or develop new products by communicating more effectively with their customers through the use of corporate blogs. Any company should encourage customer ideas, reward them and learn from their customer’ s example. If they do they will build more successful products, which also have ready customers who want to adopt new ideas and products because those same customers have participated in the process of product development. Such a strategy will also have additional Internet marketing benefits in the form of more backlinks and higher search engine rankings, as well as direct traffic from links on many different websites.

We all need to remember, customers, by purchasing and using a product, own the past, present, future, and ultimate success of a company and brand. A good product manager represents the customers as constituents and gains their confidence as their elected leader.

3 Replies to “Corporate Blogs, a new paradigm for product design”

  1. Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the mention and conversation. I agree with you every employee really is a brand representative for a company, and its through their actions and relationships with customers that a company’s reputation can grow. Opening up a company to feedback on products appears to be the next step in using blogging as a marketing tool.

    You mentioned that the report might have short changed IBM. To tell you the truth I don’t know the answer to that question. I do know that the blogger I interviewed was not aware of any examples of product feedback from customers within developerWorks, while in my efforts to reach out to IBM I have not seen any examples of such activity yet.

    I actually struggled with this very issue in the preparation of my paper, as I was surprised not to find any examples of IBM using blogging for product feedback. It is my understanding that IBM is at the forefront of internal blogging in the US with over 3,600 blogs in the company. But as far as I know, I have not seen any examples of IBM’s employees using blogging in the same way Microsoft and Macromedia have been using blogs with the same level of openness and transparency to the external world with regards to product feedback. The example you give of IBM’s recent announcement (http://www.siliconvalleywatche.....ing_bo.php) is something that occurred during my research on the blogging survey, so we are definitely in an evolving state at the moment. If the strategy plays out I am sure we will start to see some examples in the future (unless there are already examples available?).

    Oh, lastly IBM’s current position with its external position is not a bad position to be in. You will notice in my chart (http://www.siliconvalleywatche.....ing_bo.php) that companies on the left side the cultural divide gain many benefits from their efforts and are to be commended. It is just my hypothesis that for many companies more benefits are possible by developing a blogging content strategy that focuses on their customer’s ideas.

    Regards

    John

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