Corporate blogging is a new method of communication in which employees of different firms and corporations are allowed to express themselves in the current trend in media communications. Several studies suggest that corporate blogs should be limited to only conveying of information beneficial for the company or firm, and thus there is the need to create a strategic management scheme for blogging. As a form of communication, blogs can certainly evolve into a more powerful means of communication.
This power entailed in written texts of blogs shall be seen as a tool in encompassing more productive results of the business sector. According to Business Week Online issued in 2006, “A Weblog (or blog) can be a powerful marketing tool, but it can also expose a business to a legal minefield” as reported by Jacqueline Klosek. “Blogs can be used to market a company’s products and services, facilitate communications with clients, and even counter negative publicity. ” (Klosek, 2006).
From the research, many benefits of corporate blogging have been found: it is a tool for search engine marketing, an aide in building the company’s reputation as a thought leader, a good support in crisis management, tool for building relationships with customers, used as a human voice to a company, illustrates transparency, immediate customer service and feedback, acts as differentiator, and tool to find out what others think about you and your company. Presently, corporations are now much more concerned about their reputations.
The vigilant companies realize that knowledge is power in cyberspace. They are trolling chat rooms, discussion boards, online news media and Web sites run by their competitors and critics to detect rumblings that could end up making headlines if a reporter or financial analyst discovers them first (Alsop 2004, 21). The existence of cyberspace, wherein the transfer of information is relatively faster than it was ten years ago has just become a threat to the reputations of corporations which are forced to enter cyberspace for more exposure.
Corporate blogging is one dependable medium which corporations may pursue in order to protect their reputations and cut of their costs in terms of crises scenarios which could have been avoided. Although, the most of the companies set up corporate blogs for the purpose of promoting their services, building their good image or gaining any other befits. There is however a limitation in blogging, since legal problems may arise in the process. “Careless statements posted on a company-sanctioned blog can come back to haunt the company through litigation and other avenues” Klosek stresses.
Blogs can cause violations on intellectual-property rights since most corporate blogs do not have specific rules that can be followed by the employees. Trade secrets may be revealed accidentally risking the protected status of company information. Disclosure of trade secrets can jeopardize the blogger’s career since this problem may cause his suspension or termination from his position. From many studies and articles written about corporate blogs, the question has been raised on insufficient management. The integrity rules for protection and management of blogs are expected to be established immediately.
This research proposal aims to determine that how does corporate blog as a kind of new innovation be widely adopted and used by the both of the individual blogger and various organizations? What are the benefits of the corporate blogs bring to the organizations? How the public perceives corporate blogging as a kind of new innovation? What are the perceived relative advantages of corporate blogging according to the bloggers? Why is it to be welcome and popular as a successful new innovation? Is corporate blogging compatible with the existing values and practices of the bloggers?
1. 2 Overview of the Structure This proposal is structured into several sections. This section provides the audience with the motivations, objectives and a brief introduction to the research proposal. In the following sections, it includes the Literature review concerning blogging phenomenon and the process of this successful innovation, the benefits and limitation will be critically reviewed to provide a background for the research theme. In order to further understand real world practices, a theoretical framework is introduced.
In section 3, known as Diffusion of innovation theory will be applied in the analysis part. The DIO theory is also used in combination with literature review to analyze and illuminate primary data, which will be used to answer the research question and the respective supporting the arguments. Section 4 describes the research methodology and various techniques which the author used to collate empirical data. In this section, the case research has been choosing to track and understand the history of the perception and adoption of blogs as a new innovation by the successful corporation in the business industry.
An interview will also be carried out in the research process. The interview will help to find out the relationship between the employer and internal blogger, and further testify, discover and summarize the effects and benefits of the corporate blog as a new innovation. Finally, the discussion and the conclusion sections will be given to summarize of the expectation of findings, contributions, limitations of the research and points in which the research could further be improved or developed. 2 Literature review 2. 1 Understanding of blogs
A weblog or blog is a form of an online journal. Schiano, Nardi, Gumbrecht, and Swartz (2004) defined blogs as “frequently updated web pages with a series of archived posts, typically in reverse chronological order”. According to Gordon (2006), blogs use “straightforward content management tool, allowing web pages and entries to be created and updated easily, without the need to worry about design or architecture issues” (Gordon, 2006). Although blog posts are primarily textual, authors may also include photos or other multimedia content in their posts.
The blog is the fourth biggest communication tool after the e-mail, BBS and ICQ. According to Cooke (2005), about 70 million blogs exist and over 75,000 blogs are being created each day. Blogs is indeed increasingly becoming popular. Sprague (2007) traced the growth and evolution of blogs. He also discussed how businesses use blogs to communicate with customers. There are different kinds of blogs present today at cyberspace. The most popular ones are personal blogs, service, and corporate blogs (Geerts and Kim 2005, 12).
Personal Blogs provide information about the thoughts, interests and activities of different people whether they are individuals or are blogging by groups or affiliations. Service blogs are often topic oriented and they are context specific and much informative than personal blogs. Some groups use service blogs to introduce new technologies and recent development regarding the corresponding technologies which they present. Finally, the corporate blog which is created and maintained by a business entity, and is used to provide information about the company’s products and services and to interact with clients and customers.
(Geers and Kim 2005, 12). Since most scholars who work in the area of life writing have chosen to see blogs as a development of the handwritten diary (Rak 2005, 166) more and more people engage in writing in blogspots or blogsites. There are both threats and advantages which corporate blogging gives to the corporations. At some point, corporate blogging has strengthened the transparency and corporate communications. Since at present, Corporate communication channels include not only printed materials but also information posted on a company’s Web sites and blogs (Argenti 2006, 358).
However, some corporations fail to further improve their corporate communications because they limit their corporation’s blogspots only to their employees and their advertisers. It is highly doubtful whether they have fully utilized the capabilities of new two-way communication tools because more corporate home pages have been primarily used as a platform to push mundane advertising messages (Liu et al. , 1997; Salam et. al. 1998; Young and Benamati, 2000). Another point presents the fact that, there might be leaks in confidential corporate information which might be given out through the engagement to blogs of employees.
Cases of such has led to the termination of employees active in Web blogs, which gives a corporate disadvantage as it losses some of its quality workforce due to the lack of policies and rules which apply to blogs. A good example would be the Delta Air Lines flight attendant who lost her job after she posted photos of herself in uniform on her blog. Delta stated that those photos, in which she is wearing Delta uniform with the blouse partly unbuttoned, were “inappropriate and unauthorized use of Delta branding” (USA Today, 2005).
Web blogs is a critical accessory in information dissemination, yet at the same time, it might cause some corporate failures, as although the Internet allows companies to present their viewpoints directly to key constituents, control over information dissemination is lost (Ihator 2001). There are several studies that investigate the nature of blogs and bloggers. Schiano et. al. (2004) interviewed 23 bloggers between the ages 19 and 60. The interviews included questions about the participant’s blogs, blogging habits, thoughts on blogging, and use of other communication media such as e-mails, instant messaging, phone, and web pages.
They found out that blogging is becoming increasingly popular because it serves as an easy-to-use personal journal in which he can express his thoughts and opinions. Nardi, Schiano and Gumbrecht (2004) describe blogs as a social activity. They interviewed the same population and questions as with their study entitled “Blogging by the Rest of Us”. After the interviews, the authors continued to read their participants’ blogs and communicate with some of them through email. The participants reported the reasons they started blogging, the reasons they continue blogging, and the changes in their blogging habits as time pass by.
A variety or reasons emerge: readers inform bloggers they need the new posts; the friends influence their friend to blog. Due to these responses, Nardi et. al. (2004) conclude that blogs are “a form of social communication in which blogger and audience are intimately related through the writing, posting and commenting of blogs” . (Nardi, 2004) These studies give us an idea on the perceptions of bloggers about blogs in general. 2. 2 Corporate blogs and applications in the real world Different types of blogs have been posted in the internet ever since the adoption of different corporations in the late 1990’s.
Corporate blogs however have different types in which each is branded according to the specific user or blogger. Dearstyne (2005) cites five different types of corporate blogs as: employee blog, group blog, executive blog, promotional blog, and newsletter blog. Employee blogs are blogs which are much like personal blogs and are maintained by a single rank-and-file employee. They vary in their content and are sometimes managed by different hosts which the corporations recognize. Although, often times, corporations gather all the blogs their employees post.
Majority of employee blogs are still hosted independently of the Web site, employee blogs are increasingly being hosted independently of the company Web sit, employee blogs are increasingly being hosted on company-owned domains as more and more companies are officially sponsoring employee blogging. (Lee et. al. 2006, 319). Group Blogs are blogs which are written by several people or groups. Employees collaborate and write on a specific topic or different topics pertaining to a certain theme; they are made by those who are experts on the certain topics.
Group blogs are sometimes made through the initiatives of employees themselves and self-hosted. Though, many group blogs are driven by strategic plans crafted by management and hosted by companies own Web sites (Lee et. al. 2006, 320). Executive Blogs, coming from the name itself, executive blogs are blogs which are written by various corporations’ executives. Corporations and consumers have been keener on what position blog writers are on as awareness about corporate standing is widespread.
People have become more interested in top executives who run companies than in individual companies (Gaines-Ross 2000). Promotional blogs are those which primary purpose is to create a buzz about products and events of corporations. This blog however sparks controversy as most of the blogs which are promotional blogs are often times computer generated and is largely called as fake by some bloggers who remain critical about using blogspots as advertising media. The blogging community severely criticized this strategy as deceptive and bloggers even proposed product boycotts (Gallagher 2003).
This case suggests that, marketing in the blogsphere is often times discouraged due to the lack of human voice in the ads which are placed in the blogsphere. Some corporations have moved from the traditional type of blog with a domain, and instead created a newsletter type of blog wherein opinions, thoughts, and positions of different corporate or organizational members are voiced out. They carry different information about the corporation, the people inside the corporation, and the corporation’s products which are widely discussed by members of the organization through the electronic newsletter.
Sprague (2007) further explains the influence of blogs to the American society. There is an increasing number of both bloggers and blog readers each day. At present, the blog has already extended its influence to the business society. Blogs are reported to influence what people think, do and buy. By the summer 2005, it is estimated that there are nearly 5,000 corporate blogs. Nowadays, there are a number of companies who have already set up their own corporate blogs.
Aside from the influx of bloggers, talking about anything and practically everything under the sun, in some countries wherein political turmoil is prominent and shouting against a regime could practically lose you your head. Blogspheres are considered as sanctuaries wherein anyone could voice off their thoughts. In Iran, the Blogsphere is one of the major mediums wherein the populace could voice out their political positions freely with minimal risk of persecution. Any foreigner who visits Iran is struck by the gap between the image projected by the regime to the outside world and the reality of Iranian society.
The blogs quoted here vividly convey the bitter disillusionment many Iranians feel not just towards the hard-line mullahs, but toward the failed reformist project and its erstwhile leader (Berkeley 2006, 73). The safeness and freedom of the blogosphere from any political and other accusations which may arise from its use due to the arbitrariness of the policies governing the blogosphere may be seen as an advantage of corporate personalities in advertising and the diffusion of their advocacy especially in corporate social responsibility.