There has been a lot of publicity given to new media technologies like blogging, podcasting, wikis, etc. These technologies have been wholeheartedly embraced by the marketing world as additional avenues for spreading a carefully crafted message.
The reality is that blogging is not a marketing tactic in the sense that marketers are accustomed to (i.e. controlled message with a controlled delivery). Some marketers have gone as far as starting a “blog” that looks like nothing more than a press release or brochure. Take the “blog” on CBH Homes‘ website. I would be hard pressed to find a more carefully thought out message than in a White House press briefing. The biggest red flag is the inability to leave a comment. To steal from the political lexicon, I would call this a BINO (Blog In Name Only).
What marketers need to come to understand is the 3-fold mission of new media:
I would throw Entertainment in there as a fourth one if we were talk consumer to consumer, but we are talking either business to consumer or business to business. In either case, entertainment has been way over done and is largely irrelevant in driving a brand.
First, new media is the new form of education.Stephen Covey has said before that by reading more books, you are able to get inside some of the greatest minds in history. I would say the same is true today, only that the medium has changed from books to blogs. I have heard the criticism that this form of social networking is all based on opinion and hearsay, however, the same could be said of every book ever written (and I have read some very well researched blogs). More than anything blogging and podcasting have given marketers a “value-added marketing” medium to be able to provide value in exchange for time and attention. That value, more than not, is often in the form of education.
Second, in a commodity world like ours, everything begins blends together so that the only thing left to compete on is price. Take the real estate world for an example. I can buy the same house from any of the thousands of real estate agents locally for the same price. The only true differentiation is relationships in that world. By using new media, I can more easily build a relationship with my readers by allowing them inside my head to see how I think and how I approach problems. When I consult with professionals on blogging, the first thing I tell them is “don’t think, just write.” The best blogs are stream of consciousness. They are simply getting what is in my head down on paper (digitally, of course). Transparency drives familiarity which drives relationships and, no matter what business you are in, you can always use more relationships.
Lastly, carrying the relationship theme through, new media is ideal for conversations. Real, raw, conspicuous conversations. The negative comments are as valuable as the positive ones. It gives you the chance to show the world how you handle pressure. It also allows you to hone your own ideas.
I have heard the criticism that blogging and new media are a lot of hype, that they are not truly effective for marketing. I would agree and disagree. Are they another medium for your 30 second spot? No. Are they an avenue for building a relationship with someone and providing value to your target market? Absolutely. If you try to pitch without first earning the right, you will get “run”. The blogoshpere has a very high BS radar. If you truly want to see a benefit for your business from blogging, educate, be transparent, and start conversations.