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.