Blogging to Drive Business: Create and Maintain Valuable Customer Connections
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Overall, the advice in this book is good, but it suffers occasionally from not being quite sure who its audience is.
Most of the time, the authors seem to be speaking to medium or large companies, as when, in Chapter 6 (“Who Will Write the Blog?”), they advise hiring (or promoting) someone to be the social media director, or hiring a full-time blogger who has established a following in the same industry. Likewise, they use examples and case studies taken from corporate blogs: My Starbucks Idea, the Huffington Post, Rubbermaid, Intel Inside Story, BusinessWeek, Whole Foods, Molson Coors.
But Chapter 3, “Creating a Blogging Strategy,” focuses primarily on consumer-level tools. It’s as if this chapter were actually written for an entirely different book, one aimed at hobbyist bloggers or a more general reader. The authors list WordPress.com without mentioning that the free blogs hosted there are supposed to be for personal, non-commercial purposes, and mention LiveJournal, a tool used almost exclusively for sharing personal stories with select groups of friends. The closest they come to mentioning an enterprise content management system is a brief entry for Drupal.
And they almost never actually tell the readers which of these platforms, if any, the blogs in their examples are running on.
Likewise the analytics and marketing tools they mentioned are primarily lower-end, small-business kinds of tools. While even a large corporation might benefit from Google Analytics and Google Alerts, most of them are also in a position to take advantage of paid services that offer more detailed, human-filtered analyses of the company’s online reputation or website visitors. And most will also need, and quite possibly already use, higher-end e-mail service providers of the sort that integrate with Salesforce.com, not a basic Constant Contact account.
Chapter 9, “An Overview of Web 3.0 Technologies,” should have been left out altogether, or at least retitled—its main purpose seems to be buzzword value. The authors themselves admit on pages 152-153 that even those on the forefront of developing web technologies don’t agree on a definition of Web 3.0, and most of the actual tools mentioned in the rest of the chapter are really Web 2.0 tools. The space would have been better spent addressing the mobile web and the importance of making your blog accessible to those using mobile devices to read it.
While the broad strokes of the book’s guidance about such things as comments, blog authorship, tone, etc. are sound enough, the details are dubious. Most of the statistics seem to come from Technorati, and there are some erroneous statements, like the claim on page 45 that Blogspot blogs rank higher than others because Google owns Blogger. There’s actually almost nothing you can do to improve the SEO on a Blogger blog, and they don’t come up at the top of search results or appear in lists of top blogs all that often. Google would, in fact, lose its credibility as a search engine if it gave automatic priority to any blogspot.com sites, regardless of their content.
The book would have benefited considerably from thorough fact-checking and from evaluation by someone who was checking every chapter against the question “Who is this book for?” and “Does this chapter actually address the subject of blogging to drive business?” It wouldn’t have hurt to have a few more concrete examples of the ways blogs had actually increased sales, preferably with some hard numbers.
So while there’s some worthwhile material here, in the final analysis, I can’t recommend the book, because I think it might mislead or confuse those who are totally new to blogging, and annoy rather than enlighten those who are more familiar with it.