Corporate Blogging Takes Off

Business blogging is taking off. Companies are using blogs for both internal and external communications, to improve customer relations and improve business processes, according to a survey released on Monday.

Results of the BlogOn 2005 Social Media Adoption Survey were released at BlogOn 2005, taking place in New York this week. The conference is organized by Guidewire Group, a research firm focused on emerging technologies. The survey was co-sponsored by Guidewire and corporate blogging software provider iUpload.

The poll of corporate marketing and communications professionals found that 55 percent of corporations are blogging, with 91.4 percent of those using them for internal communications and 96.6 percent for external outreach. More than half had launched their blogs within the last year.

“It’s a recent phenomenon,” said Mike Sigal, CEO of Guidewire. “We thought we were still waiting for the turn in the hockey stick of adoption, but we’re already on the steep part of the curve.”

Of those not blogging, 70 percent felt positive about the idea, with 7 percent intending to start a blog immediately and 13 percent intending to start a blog within a year. Only 11 percent of the total respondents were are blogging today and had no plans to do so.

Four out of five of the companies with internal blogs used them to improve intra-company communications, with one in three replacing e-mail-based processes with blogs. One is six is using blogs to replace other software.

“There’s a mad dash for attention in the e-mail box,” Sigal said. “The move to a centralized, streamlined, searchable vehicle is what people like best about blogs inside the firewall.”

Companies use external blogs for public relations and marketing (61 percent) and “demonstration of thought leadership (61 percent). More than 40 percent of respondents had a blogging CEO. The expected benefits of external blogs include improved brand recognition and external communications, as well as a vehicle for customer feedback. While 20 percent of respondents expected blogs to generate income, 58 percent expected them to improve rankings in search engine results.

Blogging companies said the biggest challenges were maintaining enthusiasm (42 percent), encouraging adoption (36 percent) and dealing with technological problems (30 percent). Few seemed to grapple with cultural issues such as setting editorial policy (14 percent) or dealing with inappropriate comments or content (14 percent).

Sigel noted that responding companies came from all sectors including advertising and marketing, computers and electronic manufacturing, banking and lending, oil and gas, and space access, transportation and.

“We often think these emerging technologies will be very skewed to startups and technology vendors, but seeing the distribution across all industries was very surprising to us,” he said.

“The most important issue in taking blogs outside the firewall,” Sigal said, “is understanding the culture shift and loss of control of the corporate message. It’s important that a company be ready to engage in a dialog with their market, as opposed to having a one-way conversation. ”

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