According to The Weblog Handbook (Blood, 2003), Weblogs, or blogs as they are usually called, are online and interactive diaries, very similar to both link lists and online magazines. Up to now, the psychosocial literature on new technologies has studied primarly personal blogs, without giving too much interest to corporate blogs. This article aims to fill such a gap, examining blogs as corporate tools. Blogs are online diaries, where the blogger expresses himself herself, in an autoreferential format (Blood, 2003; Cortini, 2005), as the blogger would consider that only he or she deserves such attention. The writing is updated more than once a day, as the blogger needs to be constantly online and in constant contact with her audience. Besides diaries, there are also notebooks, which are generally more reflexive in nature. There are long comments on what is reported, and there is equilibrium in the discourse between the self and the rest of the world out there, in the shape of external links, as was seen in the first American blogs, which featured an intense debate over the Iraq war (Jensen, 2003). Finally, there are filters, which focus on external links. A blogger of a filter talks about himself or herself by talking about someone and something else and expresses himself or herself in an indirect way (Blood, 2003). In addition, filters, which are less esthetic and more frequently updated than diary blogs or Web sites since they have a practical aim, are generally organized around a thematic focus, which represents the core of the virtual community by which the filter lives.
According to Blood (2003), blogs were born to facilitate Internet navigation and to allow the Internet to be more democratic. Anyone may post on a blog, without permission and without knowing HTML Language, thanks to the first blogging pioneers, who built tools that allow anyone to create and maintain a blog. The most popular of these tools is the aptly named Blogger.com, which was launched in August 1999 by Williams, Bausch, and Hourihan and quickly became the largest and best-known of its kind, which allowed people to store blogs on their own servers, rather than on a remote base (Jensen, 2003). Considering this, it is easy to explain the passage from dozens of blogs in 1999 to the millions in existence today. In more specific terms, it seems that a new blog is created every seven seconds with 12,000 new blogs being added to the Internet each day (MacDougall, 2005).
From Corporate Web Sites to Corporate Blogs
Let us try to now understand the use that a corporation may make of a Weblog. First of all, we should say that corporate blogs are not the first interactive tools to be used by an organization; in fact, corporate Web sites have existed for a long time, and they were created to allow an organization to be accessible to consumers online, whether they wish to answer customers’ requests or to sell their products. The hidden logic of a corporate Web site is to try to attract as big an audience as possibile and to transform them from potential customers into real consumers.
Blogs, notebooks, and filters, besides being managed by individual and private people, may also be used by corporations, becoming specific organizational tools, which work in an opposite way to Web sites, being attractive by asking people to go elsewhere (Blood, 2003; Cass, 2004; McIntosh, 2005).
We may explain the success of corporate blogs making reference to an historical phenomenon: the fact that the in last decade of the 20th century increasing importance has been given to new technologies as corporate tools, and with this, organizations have had to deal with the problem of managing data and data mining. Weblogs may, on one hand, potentiate organizational communication (both external and internal), and on the other hand be a powerful archive of organizational data (Facca & Lanzi, 2005; Todoroki, Konishi, & Inoue, 2006).
In addition, we should remember that a corporation may benefit from other blogs, searching for business news (Habermann, 2005a, 2005b; Smith, 2005) and market segmentation (Eirinaki & Vazirgiannis, 2003), doing e-recruitment and trying to monitor its image with specific stakeholders (Wilburn Church, 2006).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Klogs: Corporate blogs that serve the aim of internal communication, deriving their name from knowledge blogs. They were created to support corporate intranet, and their first aim is to manage at a distance organizational projects.
Doocing: Losing your job because of something you have put on an Internet Weblog.
Corporate Diary: An attractive online diary, edited by a corporation, usually using a fictious narrator, which has to depict a positive corporation image for consumers.
Corporate Filters: Special filters of Internet content edited by a corporation; they are generally thematic, constructed around a specific topic that identifies the corporation itself for the consumer. The idea is to judge, and host links to, other blogs, Web sites and Internet material, related to the corporation’s core business.
Corporate Notebooks: Corporate blogs; very pragmatic and designed to support potential consumers in each selling stage, from the choice of a specific product to the post selling phase to the potential complaints phase. Generally their interface is quite poor and rigid in order to be used without difficulty. Example: The Scobleizer by Microsoft, where a Microsoft employee, Robert Scoble, is the blogger, a real person who answers peoples’ requests.
Corporate Blog: A new kind of corporate Web site, updated more than once a day, and designed to be completely interactive, in the sense that anybody can post a message on a blog without knowing html language. They are subdivided into corporate diaries, corporate notebooks, corporate filters, plogs, and klogs.
Plogs: Derive their name from personal blog and are, literally, a specific kind of Weblog directed at a unique target, with name and surname. They collect all the useful information about a specific target (name, surname, job, age, gender, etc.), and after having requested a login and a password, they construct a personal communication and a personal commercial offer.