Delivering Business Value via the Blogosphere

Part 4 in the Enterprise Web 2.0 Fundamentals Series

With CNN and others turning to the blogosphere as a bellwether of public opinion, organizations have begun to realize the business value of mining this interconnected collection of blogs. Because they capture the voice of the customer, blogs provide an unprecedented opportunity to track and analyze global customer feedback and sentiment. Technorati provides marketers with access to blog content on business, politics, sports, entertainment, and technology, organized by channels, and analyzes trends and patterns in near real-time. In 2008, Technorati reported global blogosphere statistics:

■ 184 million users have started a blog.

■ 346 million, 77% of active web users, read blogs.

■ 1 million blog posts occur per day.

They also reported that in the United States, home to 48% of the global blogging population:

■ 26.4 million have started a blog.

■ 60.3 million active web users read blogs.

■ 57% of bloggers are male.

■ 34% bloggers are between 25–34 years of age.

■ The San Francisco Bay area has the highest concentration of bloggers, followed by New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

■ Almost 95% of top newspapers have reporter blogs.

Many companies have enterprise business intelligence teams that analyze and interpret blog statistics to determine customer response to company initiatives.

In addition to measuring customer sentiment, blogs provide organizations with a valuable means of getting their message out and creating a following on a particular topic of interest, even yogurt. Many large companies maintain official blogs to communicate with customers and employees. Smaller companies use blogs to raise their company’s profile. Some popular bloggers become a known expert on a topic or an industry, and some, like Robert Scoble, have been credited with giving large companies a human face. Scoble, who became popular while working at Microsoft, went on to establish a professional blog. Blogs provide a means of creating a following for a company’s initiatives, even forming communities of interest. For a minimal investment blogs can yield qualitative feedback from the followers as the number of views and comments indicate how popular a post is. In addition, company and employee blogs offer a wealth of company and product-related content which yield exceptional results when searched on key company and industry terms.

Cisco has begun to identify ways to leverage the blogosphere as a valuable part of its marketing strategy to deliver business value. For instance, the company has begun to track an emerging group of professional bloggers with a following on a particular technology and leverage this “Web of Influence” to amplify Cisco’s message. Cisco’s Data Center 3.0 initiative, for example, influenced popular professional bloggers in the data center space, enabling the company to successfully market Cisco’s product at a very low cost compared to traditional product marketing launches. In 2008, Cisco’s Data Center team used Cisco’s corporate blog to engage in a heated debate over data center storage networking protocols. Just another example of the way Cisco is using blogs to advocate next-generation technologies they support and build brand awareness.

Enterprise Web 2.0 Fundamentals, the book I recently co-authored for Cisco Press, provides more detail on ways the blogosphere is delivering business value to Cisco, its customers and partners. Join me here to learn more about the exciting Cisco Web 2.0 story. I'm eager to hear your feedback as we explore the possibility, recognize the opportunity, and realize the potential of Web 2.0 to deliver business value to your enterprise. Safe journey!

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