Friday, July 25, 2008

Are Blogs Good for Business?

One of my students sent me an email with this opinion:

"I'm not a fan of blogs. I receive the Google alerts for news and blogs related to my field, and virtually 100% of the blogs are essentially a waste of space. I feel compelled to read them in the event something interesting is written (which I cannot afford to miss), but my ROI on reading blogs is truly negative. Indeed, I spend 15 minutes of my day reading blogs that add no value. That is 62 1/2 hours of wasted time a year.

Most of the useful stuff people accomplish through blogs seem perfectly capable of being accomplished via Facebook or related tools. I therefore only see personal reasons for having blogs, versus business reasons. Granted, some Fortune 500 companies have blogs, but that isn't exactly an endorsement."

A blog is not appropriate for every business. It makes sense when companies want to create a two-way dialogue with their customers/clients/donors. For some, it has created a lot of discussion. For example, the Southwest Airlines Nuts About Southwest blog requests customer feedback, and Southwest employees definitely respond. The most comments seem to come on posts where the airline is discussing something controversial, such as this one announcing their winter schedule.

It is great to have varying viewpoints, as they create a healthy discussion. So, let's open this up for conversation!

- Can Facebook or other social media tools accomplish what blogs can accomplish for a business?

- There are many reasons for a business to have a blog (listen to customers, talk with them, be seen as an expert, create a community). Which reasons have you seen work, and for which company?
- Has your company tried a blog that didn't work out? (I showed the example of Moosetopia, from Denali Ice Cream, to my students last week; it was cute, but didn't get much interaction from customers.)

Let's hear about it!
(Photo credit: head-off)

Monday, July 21, 2008

To the Students

Every now and then, I will have a blog entry geared to the students in my class. This is one of those!


Please continue posting to your blogs, as well as linking to and commenting on each other's blogs. I would also like to see links to blogs that are similar to yours. The best way to link is to write a post, then refer to someone else's blog in your post. Be sure to include the address of the blog post you are referring to in your post link! You can also add blogs to your blogroll/blog list.

Remember, in social media, participation and conversation are key!

Textbook Reading

You should be working your way through Groundswell, with a goal of reading through at least Chapter 7, Energizing the Groundswell, by class this week.

Midterm Exam

The midterm will be next Wednesday, July 30! It will be a few multiple-choice questions, but most of it will be a written response. You will be getting a case study to read and work through, targeted at what you would recommend for this company.


I have been trying to figure out the best way to get you slides, and I am still working on it (the file sizes are huge). Blackboard is probably it, and I am trying to get them up there. I will have something for you this week so you can review for the midterm!
(Photo credit: kjpargeter)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Social Media and Conversation

Now that the students are blogging (see My Blog List on the right to view their blogs - and you should!), they are beginning to have a different understanding of what it means to converse with customers. We spent quite a bit of time discussing what works and what doesn't in a blog, using Denali Ice Cream and their blogs Moosetopia and FreeMoneyFinance (a non-ice cream blog, but "sponsored" by Moosetracks). We also learned about linking in order to help further conversation.

I would like us to discuss here what "conversation" could mean from a social media and corporate perspective. The conversation actually started with Jeremiah Owyang's blog post on why some don't need to "join the conversation" because not everyone is part of online dialogue exchange. It continued on Peter Kim's blog on whether or not a brand can blog. I left the following comments on Peter's post.

- The "conversation" doesn't always have to take place between company and customer in order to be effective. When customers use voting, tagging, and sharing, the conversation is between customers - and it truly beneficial.

- We can't force customers to converse with us any more than we could "manage" their relationships (when the buzz was all about CRM). I think one of the key benefits of using social media is helping to make a company seem a bit more approachable, genuine, and real. B2B or B2C, it is all about people.

- Social media should probably be a part of a marketing toolkit, but the tool used is most likely different for different companies. Some may use quite a few of the tools, as their customers want to engage with them that way, and others may use only one (and that just to listen to customers). Either way, it should not be ignored but should be explored.

Now to you

What do you think? Can a "brand" blog? Who should blog from a company? Does the entire company need to embrace social media in order to create successful conversations with customers?
(Photo credit: redbaron)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Learning in Plain English

Where can you find the simplest explanations of some of the most difficult social media concepts? The CommonCraft Show, of course! I show a CommonCraft video at the beginning of my class each week; so far, we have seen the videos on Social Media and Blogging. They explain these concepts in "plain English", which is very handy for a class mixed with American and International students! I think our only request might be for Lee to speak just a little more slowly. :)

These videos provide us entertainment as well as basic information to get us started with our social media lessons. I like the way they take out all the "techno-babble" and use every-day language, along with simple images, to help the un-initiated understand the new world. I also like the fact that they can be found translated through dotsub!
We plan to watch RSS in Plain English this upcoming class period. Now that the students have been blogging (for one week!), it will make more sense.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Student blogs

The best way to learn something is to do it yourself. Hence, I have asked my students to each start their own blog. Here was the assignment:

Homework Assignment Number 2: Start Your Own Blog!
1. Decide on a topic (it should be something you would enjoy writing about; please keep it appropriate)
2. Choose which blogging platform you want to use: or (both are free) (I use wordpress)
3. Pick a name for your blog (you will need it when signing up)
4. Set up the blog, including the theme and color (how you want it to look)
5. Write at least three posts (at least one paragraph long each) before the next class
6. Send me the link!

I am posting the student blogs in my "blog list". They are very diverse, as these students are coming from all over the world! The perspectives are great.

In our next class, we will be taking this learning experience further and talk together more as a class about blogging strategy and how you can engage your readers via comments, polls, and questions.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Welcome to class!

Learning Pyramid
Originally uploaded by dkuropatwa
This blog will chronicle my experience teaching Marketing via New Media at the University of California San Diego Extension (UCSD). The class is 9 weeks long and covers why and how to use social media as part of the corporate marketing tool box, including strategy and case studies. I currently have 30 students, including students from several countries: India, Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, and South Korea. The textbook: Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.

This will also be a place where I can communicate with my students and link to their newly-created blogs.
Let's rock!