Sun CEO sees ubiquity of corporate blogging?

How about ubiquity of CEO blogging? I don’t think so. I have said this before and I don’t mind repeating myself. I don’t see the era of CEO blogging happening, but I’d agree with the ubiquity of corporate blogging for obvious reasons, I’ll enumerate below.

(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)

Why CEO Blogging won’t work for most CEOs.

Earlier today at the Web 2.0 Expo, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz who’s one of the few CEOs blogging today suggested that rest of the executives will catch up with blogging and I beg to differ.

And he predicted, in effect, that the rest of the executive world will catch up. “Historically, communication took place by being a celebrity CEO who met with heads of state, and got the local media to cover it,” he said in an on-stage interview with O’Reily Media chief Tim O’Reilly.

As Godin stated earlier, here’s the problem with that assumption

Here’s the problem. Blogs work when they are based on: Candor, Urgency, Timeliness, Pithiness and Controversy (maybe Utility if you want six). Does this sound like a CEO to you? [Source: Seth Godin]

However, I agree with Schwartz when he suggests that there is a need for executives and leaders to communicate

“At some point the word ‘blogging’ will be anachronistic,” Schwartz said at the Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco. “I communicate.”

And, since not all CEOs are in the mold of a blogger (like Schwartz), the right question here is what are the easiest ways for CEOs to communicate effectively with their audience, given their disposition.

What may work for time-strapped CEOs?

1. Twitter.

CEOs can use twitter as a great online customer focus group where they can listen to users talking about your product/service. It’s as easy as steps 1-2-3 (just track your company name on twitter via a tool like tweetscan) and be a fly on the online wall.

As if on cue, yesterday’s post was followed with a Twitter Q&A initiated by Tim O’Reilly (again questions culled by tweetscanning Schwartz’s name) where Schwartz responds to questions from users’ on the panel.

However, I did collect all the questions after the fact, and forward them on to Jonathan to answer by email. The questions and Jonathan’s answers are below. I’ve presented it as if it were a twitter interview, snarfing up the questions from tweetscan, and then getting Jonathan’s twitter image from his own feed.

2. Corporate Blogs

Speaking of responding to user questions, despite my apprehension about CEOs wrestling with the challenges of a full-time blogging, I think it’s important that CEOs connect with the user community at every given opportunity. At LinkedIn, we’ve had our CEO Dan Nye respond to user questions on the NYT blog in the past.

And more interestingly, members of a company’s executive team can also be contributing bloggers (depending on how much time they’ve to spare). For e.g. how about a series from your CEO or maybe your VP of product around major product announcements. You can actually create a separate feed for these contributing posts if your audience so demands.

3. Professional networks.

Given my current day-job at LinkedIn, I’ve a close view of how you could use a professional networking site like LinkedIn for effective communication both within the company (via LinkedIn News) as well as external Q&A sessions with users of your product (via LinkedIn Answers).

Are there any other ways you see CEOs communicate effectively. Feel free to leave a comment, or two…

If you’re into corporate blogging, you may find these earlier posts of mine, interesting as well.

* ROI of Corporate Blogging
* Would Jack Welch have blogged as a CEO?
* Top 10 CEO Blogs (Redux) | March 2007
* 3 Resources on Corporate blogging
* The original Top 10 CEO Blogs (July 06)

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  6. Urs E. Gattiker


    Interesting post, we are using our tools to benchmark blogging by CEOs

    One thing we find is that many c-level blogs are available on the internal network — not to the people outside the corporate walls. Missed communication opportunity? The reasoning we hear is that it is easier to be frank and communicate with employees and colleagues than with the outside – using the blog as an internal sounding board.

    The Twitter is a whole different issue I believe and measuring is a real challenge as we discussed hear:

    I appreciate you sharing your insights with us with this post (PS: got it via my e-mail subscription, saves me much time … )

  7. Mario Sundar

    Hi Tracy,

    Glad to see you chose to start your conversation on Marketing Nirvana. Well, having a public blog is as easy as opening an email account. The easiest way to convince or begin to convince decision makers is by talking about ROI of Corporate Blogging.

    Check out this earlier post of mine on that topic –

    Hope this helps. Good luck in your blogging journey.

  8. Tracy

    Hi Mario

    This is my first response to a blog – ever! Can you believe it? I’m a marketing practitioner and I’ve just started my Masters Degree. My research topic: corporate blogging. I’m a little apprehensive about starting a blog as I am still in the early stages of my research. I am however excited about what blogging offers in terms of open, honest, transparent communication. However I am reluctant to begin experimenting until I fully comprehend what blogging is all about. In theory it sounds great but how does one begin a blog that is to be viewed publicly and commit indefinitely to communicating openly. Also, where does one begin to even try and convince the decision-makers to start blogging when many of them have never even heard of the term?

    Thank you for your valuable insights. I look forward to continuing this “conversation”.

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