Monday, September 12, 2005

Book Review: Blog Marketing by Jeremy Wright

Blog or die. That’s Jeremy Wright’s message to the modern business. He tells us that customers have come to expect a business to have a blog. And, even if a business doesn’t have a blog, they will still be blogged about so every person invested in the success of a business should follow its public image in the blogoshere.

This book was rather thicker than I thought possible given the subject of blogs. Blogs are places where anyone of any level or skill can trumpet their thoughts, opinions, or musings. What more could possibly be said about them?

Quite a lot, actually.

One point, though, before I get into this book. The title is a bit misleading perhaps. If you are a sales person or trying to market something, do not expect this book to do much to help you use blogs to move product. This book concerns itself with the big picture. Wright is more interested in using blogs to improve a businesses public image than for moving individual units.

The book opens with a couple of obligatory chapters for the uninitiated. This book is written to the businessman, not the blogger, and Wright provides enough background and examples to prepare his audience for the blogoshpere. Then he launches into the meaning of blogs to business. He covers the various possible uses – both internal and external – of blogs for businesses. Wright tells us that a blog is so much more than the traditional advertising or press release style of business to customer communication. That old monologue can be abandoned for the more productive dialogue that blogs make possible. They now have the opportunity to interact with customers in a way that they never could before. Blogs also offer new internal communication solutions to businesses, either company wide or within a department or even a few coworkers involved in a project.

Another invaluable use for of blogosphere to businesses that Wright points out is monitoring what other blogs are saying about your business and industry. Wright argues that this puts the decision makers in an unprecedented position of being able to move swiftly and react quickly to issues that might arise with such things as product malfunction, similar issues with competitors, problems with suppliers or vendors. The blogosphere discusses everything; therefore something worth knowing is bound to come up.

Next Wright offers a few pointers on how to interact with your business’s blog. Gone are the days, he repeats time and again, when businesses can speak down to their customers but never listen. He offers advice on dealing with praise and, most importantly, negative comments on the business’s or others’ blogs.

He wraps up the book with tips on how to succeed in blogging and even makes a few predictions for the future of blogging.

Throughout the book Wright maintains a passionate message that businesses simply must blog or they will quickly go the way of buggy whip makers. His message is so fervent that I felt that I need to start a business blog and soon! Better start a business first, though. Now that I’ve stepped back a bit, though, I really don’t know if I buy this message.

Undeniably, blogs can offer lots of advantages and conveniences to modern businesses. They are cheap, easy to maintain and offer a simple way to communicate that won’t have the IT department tied down with extra work. But blog or die? There is one fact that Wright overlooks. Bloggers do not represent the world. Bloggers, I mean consistent participants in the blogosphere, have different goals and expectations from companies than the population in general. Businesses can still succeed and will be able to indefinitely without maintaining a public blog.

This isn’t to diminish the importance of blogs. I just question the necessity of blogs to businesses that Wright maintains.

As a casual blogger myself, I found a lot of interesting and fascinating information in this book. From uses of the various and heretofore unimaginable tools that have sprung up around the blogging community to the blogs of top executives, I learned a lot from this book. If you are a dedicated blogged and pinging is old news to you, you probably won’t learn a lot from this book. If, like me, you have only a passing knowledge of the blog world or if you are considering adding a blog to your businesses profile, you’ll find some invaluable information in this book.