As a smaller company, Silverpop employee or executive blogging is a relatively simply matter. My eyes were opened wide, however, by an enlightening presentation from Hewlett-Packard's Scott Anderson. Scott runs brand communications at HP, and is the person who set up the company's impressive employee blogging approach. My take-aways would fill several pages. So let me just hit the highlights:
- Blogging is like public speaking. You wouldn't put a legal person between an executive speaker and his or her audience at a conference, so don't do it to your bloggers. A company can survive employees speaking in public; it can survive bloggers as well.
- Qualify bloggers. Not everyone can blog under the corporate flag. They have to be approved.
- Standards of conduct must be applied. Read the rules and live them. No financials, product announcements, etc.
- My own take: review/audit blogs. Keep re-qualifying bloggers by reading the things they post.
- The "Dialogue Age of Marketing." This is Scott's term for the new world of online marketing. Companies can't hold a dialogue with individual customers, only people can. Blogs create a two-way dialogue between company employees and customers.
- The act of writing publicly drives more powerful thinking. This was a big idea for me. My own experience is that it takes real effort to distill my thoughts into writing. The act of doing so really does add value to the quality and crispness of my thoughts. Nice upside, Scott.
- Authenticity. Many companies work hard to craft an image of power and infallibility. Blogging may not be a fit for them. However, in the Age of Dialogues, blogging puts a truly authentic, human face on companies. For a company like HP, this is pure upside.
- Allow comments. HP doesn't filter employee blog entries, nor does it filter comments. Its experience has shown that bloggers will say bad stuff regardless of which blog they do it on. So it may as well be somewhere that HP is sure to see it. Plus, this furthers HP's authenticity and trust as a brand.
Great job, Scott.