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SmartBiz's Keys to Online Success: Blog Away—Carefully
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By Carl Weinschenk

The Internet serves up new and exciting marketing tools on a regular basis. One of the newest is the broadband blog, or blog.

These are unfiltered, informal post and response sections of sites. For instance, a company executive could write a blog posting describing the technical challenges to the development of a new product offering. This might create a dialog with experts—some of whom may work at companies that are potential buyers of that new product. Blogs also can gather unfiltered feedback from customers, prospects and ex-customers.

It's important to be careful with blogs, however. People get over excited on topics of particular interest to them, and a company should be careful that inflammatory or even slanderous comments don’t make it onto the blog—either from inside or outside the company. For instance, suppose that blog discussion on the new product mentioned began discussing some arcane design aspect. Further, suppose that this detail was the main difference between the company hosting the blog and a product from its main competitor. The conversation easily could spiral out of control and one or both parties say things that are inappropriate or simply look bad.

Somebody should check the blog at least once a day to remove advertising and promotional material that is posted from outside the company—and to make sure the blog is free of profanity.

Beyond those baseline concerns, it also makes sense not to use the blog to knock the competition. Whether what is said is true or not, posting a negative comment about competitors' products invariably looks like a cheap shot. The dicey part is when these comments come from outsiders. In such a case, it could seem that the outside comment was made at the behest of the company. Though it may not be possible, the company should discourage such postings.

The bottom line is that blogs can help a business immensely, but they also can be dangerous because they essentially are unfiltered exchanges between those inside and outside the organization.

Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.
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