Much ado about blogging (Scoble, you didn’t answer the question)

Ahh, now Slashdot jumps into the "Werner kicks blogging book authors behinds" tub. On the other hand, I must buy Werner dinner some evening and thank him. The whole shindig has landed us on top of Memeorandum for a few hours.

Om Malik makes it sound like Amazon vs. Microsoft. That's an unfortunate headline, but heck, it'll sell a lot of seats whenever Werner and Shel and I are in the same room again! :-)

What's ironic is that 120 people were involved in our presentation yesterday. Now, more than 20,000 are (and the numbers are quickly spreading — Slashdot regularly has 100,000 readers a day. Does blogging matter? That's for you to decide, but things can get out of control very quickly!)

I say that headline is unfortunate because I didn't go there representing Microsoft, I went there representing the 188 companies we interviewed in the book. And, Amazon is being painted in a bad light cause we're focusing on one guy, when about a dozen people asked questions and we were treated very well (and, there were many who came up to us afterward who demonstrated they get blogging very well, as you'll learn if you read the comments on the various blogs).

Indeed, Werner has now apologized. That's nice. Now we can all get in a big bear hug and make up. Oh, but then there's Maryam. She told me tonight "you guys should do a debate on the topic." She thinks it would be the conference draw of the decade. I'm game. She recommends doing "book reading 2.0" at Gnomedex. We'll see what Pirillo thinks about that.

But, let's revisit this. The truth is I screwed up. I didn't represent blogging very well and didn't back up the thesis of our book very well (that blogging will improve the way businesses talk with customers).

Now, if this were the old world, you would never have known that. And, I wouldn't have a second chance. But, this is the new world where ideas discussed with 120 people can reach much larger audiences within hours.

On my comments last night several people claiming to be Amazon employees (we really don't know because they gave their comments anonymously, but I'll take them on face value) made some very good points, which basically came down to "you didn't answer the question!" Om Malik made the same point on his post.

The common theme I'm hearing is Werner (and the other Amazon employees who commented here, and elsewhere that I'm seeing) want numbers. They want statistics. Proof. Science.

Where I gave them stuff like "blogging doubled sales at Stormhoek winery, according to its CEO." Or "Munjal Shah, CEO of Riya, says blogging is very important to his new company." Or "Axosoft raised more than $14,000 in just a few days with nothing more than a few links on some blogs." Or "Foldera got more than one million signups for its service in 17 days by doing nothing more than talking to six bloggers." Or, a tailor in the UK saw his sales go up by 10x by doing a blog. That probably wasn't well enough communicated, or it wasn't the kind of answer that would convince Werner. That means I need to go back and do some more homework or at least learn to communicate better while being interrupted by an executive with strongly formed opinions.

I totally forgot to mention that big companies like Boeing (Randy's journal is a blog done by an executive there) , General Motors (Bob Lutz, an exec at GM has a blog), and Wells Fargo (which recently started blogging on its history) are seeing enough of a reason to start a blog (and continue doing them, even after the first year). The teams at Boeing and GM say they are pleased with the response and effect of their blogging and plan to continue doing them.

But, if you don't like this approach, just visit Tom Moertel's blog where he talks about his favorite coffee shop in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. When I visited that shop myself the owner raved about what blogging had done for his business. It turned his little coffee shop into one with an international presence. Thanks to search engines like A9, Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Oh, and he said he never got written up in the press before blogging, but now that's a regular happening.

See, maybe that's why I wasn't able to defend blogging from a numbers point of view. To me this is a people business. One where raw numbers don't matter. One where getting eight guys together in a Swiss Chalet can turn into tens of thousands of users literally overnight with doing nothing more than one post.

I also totally forgot that Howard Dean raised more money in the last presidental race than other candidates because of his blog. Hey, when I'm up in front of 120 people with an executive giving me a hard time and not letting me finish my anwers and stop to breathe and think, my brain goes into vapor lock and I get stupid. Yes, Christopher Coulter, I know I'm +always+ stupid, it's just that yesterday I was even stupider than normal. ;-)

But, I learned my lesson. Next time when Werner and Shel and I get together in a room I'll have lots of numbers to back up my thesis. I'm sorry I didn't yesterday.

It was a good lesson to learn. And it was a great experience for whenever I have to do an executive review. If it doesn't kill you, it'll make you stronger. So, thank you Werner for another good learning experience! Seriously!

Oh, and if you have some numbers and stats for Werner to ponder, now would be a good time to link to them here in the comments, or, if you feel corporate blogging is a bunch of hooey then feel free to tell me I'm stupid too! (Although that sort of proves my point that this is a new way for people to communicate their ideas, thoughts, opinions, product desires, and business opportunities with companies in a new way). 

Update: SEO Buzzbox put up an interview with me that was lots of fun to do. Yesterday I was on four radio stations. Whew. Some even asked hard questions like Werner did. But Dr. Alvin Jones put up our conversation on his Website (it's in Windows Media audio non-DRM'ed format here). He broadcasts a business show on WCBQ and WHNC in Raleigh, NC. It's interesting to hear from a guy who is still trying to figure out the Web. There are a lot more like Alvin than there are like Werner.

Update 2: Rick Segal is offering a conference in Toronto for the smackdown. I'd rather do it at Gnomedex in Seattle, I'm already traveling enough in the next few months and Maryam is getting tired of me never being home. Another choice is the Syndicate conference in New York. Eric Norlin offered that up (and I'm already attending that, so either that venue or Gnomedex would work best for me).

Update 3: I guess the Web services team at Amazon (along with the A9 Developer team) had their numbers together (since they are blogging). I would love to hear how they convinced Werner. This is another reason I was caught off guard. Since Amazon already understood blogs (their associate program helps bloggers make some money) they actually should be showing US the numbers. I'm sure they have them from the Associates program.

Comments

  1. I think the real issue boils down to the fact that there are no silver bullets.
    Stormhoek did great through blogging? Sure, but are we sure it would help Vinos Jeromin ( http://www.vinosjeromin.com/ — no affiliation, only an example of smaller wine producer in my area), for example?
    Werner questioned whether blogging was relevant to Amazon’s business model, and it may not be relevant at all (which, by the way, is not an excuse to be rude).
    Maybe what we need are case studies of companies not logging, and trying to understand quantifiable benefits of doing so for them. Explain clearly where it’s relevant, where it’s not.
    As an example, have a look at old (1996 to 1998) books or articles on e-commerce, back when we explained to people how this could change their businesses, but it wasn’t for everybody. Deja vu all over again, and all that… ;)
    “Naked Conversations 2″, maybe?

  2. I think the real issue boils down to the fact that there are no silver bullets.

    Stormhoek did great through blogging? Sure, but are we sure it would help Vinos Jeromin ( http://www.vinosjeromin.com/ — no affiliation, only an example of smaller wine producer in my area), for example?

    Werner questioned whether blogging was relevant to Amazon’s business model, and it may not be relevant at all (which, by the way, is not an excuse to be rude).

    Maybe what we need are case studies of companies not logging, and trying to understand quantifiable benefits of doing so for them. Explain clearly where it’s relevant, where it’s not.

    As an example, have a look at old (1996 to 1998) books or articles on e-commerce, back when we explained to people how this could change their businesses, but it wasn’t for everybody. Deja vu all over again, and all that… ;)

    “Naked Conversations 2″, maybe?

  3. Jope: well a blog would do a lot better for the winery you pointed to than its current Flash-based site, in my experience. If I hit a company's site and get a flash experience like this one I immediately close the browser and go somewhere else. I imagine I'm not the only one who does that. I visit http://www.stormhoek.com/ and like the approach a lot better. Not to mention that it's in my language, but that's another issue altogether.

  4. Jope: well a blog would do a lot better for the winery you pointed to than its current Flash-based site, in my experience. If I hit a company's site and get a flash experience like this one I immediately close the browser and go somewhere else. I imagine I'm not the only one who does that. I visit http://www.stormhoek.com/ and like the approach a lot better. Not to mention that it's in my language, but that's another issue altogether.

  5. Works for me. I’m making money off the blog talking to a tough audience but guess what? The audience is no longer restricted to my geography and according to at least one large company I know, it is changing their thinking about customer service. They’re not blogging ‘yet’ but they are looking at a range of social software options. They know it’s a do or die thing – even though they are a very well known software company in the UK. And even tough I regularly lambast them. I’d be happy to let you know more offline.

  6. Works for me. I’m making money off the blog talking to a tough audience but guess what? The audience is no longer restricted to my geography and according to at least one large company I know, it is changing their thinking about customer service. They’re not blogging ‘yet’ but they are looking at a range of social software options. They know it’s a do or die thing – even though they are a very well known software company in the UK. And even tough I regularly lambast them. I’d be happy to let you know more offline.

  7. Robert, I agree with you on the flash thing. But will the public at large care?

    How do we explain that to this winery or any other business…? YOu know, the ones *not* reading blogs and already sold on this way of communicating?

    Not easy when a lot of these guys are still trying to decide if being on the web is worth it, but I’m going to keep trying… :)

    Maybe this is a biger issue, related to web sites being managed too often by comms people instead of by marketeers or sales (as in flashy vs. useful)?

    Just look at most car companies sites, especially the ad-hoc ones for new launches…

  8. Robert, I agree with you on the flash thing. But will the public at large care?

    How do we explain that to this winery or any other business…? YOu know, the ones *not* reading blogs and already sold on this way of communicating?

    Not easy when a lot of these guys are still trying to decide if being on the web is worth it, but I’m going to keep trying… :)

    Maybe this is a biger issue, related to web sites being managed too often by comms people instead of by marketeers or sales (as in flashy vs. useful)?

    Just look at most car companies sites, especially the ad-hoc ones for new launches…

  9. Jope: A lot of it is just keep showing them sites that are increasing business. If Flash is working for them, great, I don’t think it is.

    Yeah, I’m learning that most people in business simply don’t understand how to best use the Web. Most business people don’t, for instance, understand how search engines work. If they don’t understand even that then they won’t understand why Flash sites generally aren’t as good as just plain old well written ugly old HTML sites. There’s a reason MySpace is #2 and that it isn’t Flashy.

  10. Jope: A lot of it is just keep showing them sites that are increasing business. If Flash is working for them, great, I don’t think it is.

    Yeah, I’m learning that most people in business simply don’t understand how to best use the Web. Most business people don’t, for instance, understand how search engines work. If they don’t understand even that then they won’t understand why Flash sites generally aren’t as good as just plain old well written ugly old HTML sites. There’s a reason MySpace is #2 and that it isn’t Flashy.

  11. Jope: I think the public at large does care. That site took many times longer to load than the average page does. I know from other analysis that every second longer your page takes to load you’ll lose some of your audience. It’s why companies like Google work so hard to make sure their pages come up in less than a second.

  12. Jope: I think the public at large does care. That site took many times longer to load than the average page does. I know from other analysis that every second longer your page takes to load you’ll lose some of your audience. It’s why companies like Google work so hard to make sure their pages come up in less than a second.

  13. Robert, amen to that… Flash is to the web what different font types were to desktop publishing or word processing back in the day :)

    With any luck, the web admin for the spanish winery will look at his logs, find this conversation and ask for advice. I’ll give ideas, cheap…

  14. Robert, amen to that… Flash is to the web what different font types were to desktop publishing or word processing back in the day :)

    With any luck, the web admin for the spanish winery will look at his logs, find this conversation and ask for advice. I’ll give ideas, cheap…

  15. Should’ve said – it’s much harder to do when you’re facing napalm but if you can steel yourself then it works – ‘cos it’s the correct answer.

    Another interesting aside – Werner talks about ‘the answer he wants’ – well if he can say exactly what it is then maybe the answer can be found?

  16. Should’ve said – it’s much harder to do when you’re facing napalm but if you can steel yourself then it works – ‘cos it’s the correct answer.

    Another interesting aside – Werner talks about ‘the answer he wants’ – well if he can say exactly what it is then maybe the answer can be found?

  17. Dennis: I just wish he woulda spit out the answer if he already knew it instead of working to show what a smart guy he is! (I already knew that, after all you don’t get to be CTO of Amazon by being stupid!)

  18. Dennis: I just wish he woulda spit out the answer if he already knew it instead of working to show what a smart guy he is! (I already knew that, after all you don’t get to be CTO of Amazon by being stupid!)

  19. Robert, I seriously think you ought to start going to local Toastmaster sessions to improve your presentation skills. This will greatly help with thinking and making a case on the hoof.
    In my own personal experience the business case for blogging is cast iron solid. As for flash sites see my post yesterday http://www.geoffjones.com/2006/03/nevada-sports-and-blogging-does-work.html

    My own experience with Amazon amd customer relations is dreadful – I changed my email address and all my preceeding 3 years data was lost without warning.

  20. Robert, I seriously think you ought to start going to local Toastmaster sessions to improve your presentation skills. This will greatly help with thinking and making a case on the hoof.
    In my own personal experience the business case for blogging is cast iron solid. As for flash sites see my post yesterday http://www.geoffjones.com/2006/03/nevada-sports-and-blogging-does-work.html

    My own experience with Amazon amd customer relations is dreadful – I changed my email address and all my preceeding 3 years data was lost without warning.

  21. Geoff: that's good advice. You're not the first to give it, either. My presentation skills have gotten better just through doing lots of presentations lately. I was rated #2 after Malcolm Gladwell when I spoke at Google (and I was up against VPs and CEOs and famous book authors, there were about 30 speakers there, all of them were bigger names than me) and lots of people said I was the best speaker at LIFT, too. Even out of the four presentations this week we got lots of praise at three of them. It's funny how controversy gets everyone interested in only the Amazon one. Maybe next time we should make sure someone starts a fight with us (and that someone else is there to blog it).

  22. Geoff: that's good advice. You're not the first to give it, either. My presentation skills have gotten better just through doing lots of presentations lately. I was rated #2 after Malcolm Gladwell when I spoke at Google (and I was up against VPs and CEOs and famous book authors, there were about 30 speakers there, all of them were bigger names than me) and lots of people said I was the best speaker at LIFT, too. Even out of the four presentations this week we got lots of praise at three of them. It's funny how controversy gets everyone interested in only the Amazon one. Maybe next time we should make sure someone starts a fight with us (and that someone else is there to blog it).

  23. Robert – this sounds like one of those slugfests where it doesn’t matter what the answer is, there’s always another grenade. It happens at press events.

  24. Robert – this sounds like one of those slugfests where it doesn’t matter what the answer is, there’s always another grenade. It happens at press events.

  25. Robert,

    You asked-”Does blogging matter?”

    YES, definately yes.

    Here’s proof:

    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?&range=3m&size=medium&compare_sites=officelive.com&y=r&url=foldera.com#top

    Foldera launched with strictly a blog marketing strategy. Microsoft Officelive launched with a more traditional marketing strategy.

    Check out the charts side by side.

    The first chart uptrend was Michael Arringtons post. The second uptrend was your post.

    Want more proof that blogging works- click on this link again tomorrow.
    :)

    I rest my (your) case.

    Best,
    Richard Lusk
    CEO/Foldera

  26. Robert,

    You asked-”Does blogging matter?”

    YES, definately yes.

    Here’s proof:

    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?&range=3m&size=medium&compare_sites=officelive.com&y=r&url=foldera.com#top

    Foldera launched with strictly a blog marketing strategy. Microsoft Officelive launched with a more traditional marketing strategy.

    Check out the charts side by side.

    The first chart uptrend was Michael Arringtons post. The second uptrend was your post.

    Want more proof that blogging works- click on this link again tomorrow.
    :)

    I rest my (your) case.

    Best,
    Richard Lusk
    CEO/Foldera

  27. [...] Amazon invites Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, co-authors of Naked Conversations, to give a talk on blogging on Wed Mar 29. In the spirit of Amazon’s culture of challenging others to defend their ideas, Amazon CTO Werner posed some tough questions for the speakers. Acccording to Robert and Shel, Werner’s tone turned confrontational and he frequently interrupted their responses to his questions. Later that day, after the talk, Scoble suggested here that Amazon “doesn’t get blogging.” Werner blasted the speakers in a post here, and Shel responded here. Venture capitalist Rick Segal, seeking to validate the speakers’ observations of Werner, does some digging among his Amazon contacts, and reports here that even the Amazonians thought Werner was rude. Fortunately, the storms calmed…Scoble admits here that he could have done a better job of answering Werner’s questions, and Werner apologizes here. [...]

  28. Did Scoble write the crap that appeared on slashdot? That slashdot posted was pointless and the only reason the Amazon guy apologized was because Scoble and Israel were able to spin this into so called “negative press.” Blogs win again for only bringing down the level of conversation. This is self-important crud from a self-important man.

  29. Did Scoble write the crap that appeared on slashdot? That slashdot posted was pointless and the only reason the Amazon guy apologized was because Scoble and Israel were able to spin this into so called “negative press.” Blogs win again for only bringing down the level of conversation. This is self-important crud from a self-important man.

  30. Point of information – Hugh claimed that Stormhoek doubled sales. Stormhoek themselves more accurately said that sales doubled during the period of blogging. Now I’m sure the sales increased more than they would have done without the blog – that’s a no brainer – but if we are to convince people of the power of blogging we must be extra careful not to fall into the agency trap of claiming all the glory for themselves.

  31. Point of information – Hugh claimed that Stormhoek doubled sales. Stormhoek themselves more accurately said that sales doubled during the period of blogging. Now I’m sure the sales increased more than they would have done without the blog – that’s a no brainer – but if we are to convince people of the power of blogging we must be extra careful not to fall into the agency trap of claiming all the glory for themselves.

  32. Amazon CTO looks for more than ‘fuzzy group hug’

    Robert Scoble and Shel Israel did a presentation about blogging yesterday at Amazon. CTO Werner Vogels wasn’t impressed with what they had to say. Shel felt he was rude. Scoble says he answered the questions and suggests a debate between them, perhaps…

  33. What helped Stormhoek was a combination of blogging, giving bloggers free wine, and providing free wine for geek dinners. Had it just been blogging without the freebies, would it have been as successful? I don’t think so. I’m sure it would have made some difference, but not as much as it did.

  34. What helped Stormhoek was a combination of blogging, giving bloggers free wine, and providing free wine for geek dinners. Had it just been blogging without the freebies, would it have been as successful? I don’t think so. I’m sure it would have made some difference, but not as much as it did.

  35. As an attendee of one of your other presentations that day, I can see Werner’s point, and I am not sure that you quite are yet, Robert. You and Shel both have a mass of anecdotal evidence (much cited above in this post) and you have some impressive overall numbers, but you don’t have anything that ties the two together–the argument is entirely by inference, and that isn’t completely convincing from some points of view.

    I don’t think I was as aggressive as Werner but I had some of the same questions, and they weren’t answered convincingly either at the discussion (which was great, incidentally, I don’t want you to think it wasn’t a good presentation) or in the follow-up posts that either you or Shel have made. I don’t disbelieve any of the citations you have made, I just don’t feel like they complete the argument that blogging is a great approach for, well, everybody. It’s worked well for certain businesses, no question. But I think you should spend more time on where it hasn’t worked, and for what businesses, and come up with some supportable arguments as to why that is. Because there are a lot of blogs out there, and a limited number of success stories. And in some respects, when you talk about the numbers explosion in the blogosphere, it begs the question as to just how many blogging plumbers can find success in the field. When I mentioned the issue to Shel, he just kept hitting me with those anecdotes from above. Awesome, I’m happy for all those guys–but that’s not an answer.

    Great talk, and I’m glad you are taking the opportunity to expand on the discussion… and I still think it would be a great show to get you and Shel in a room with Nick Carr and started on this subject. :)

  36. As an attendee of one of your other presentations that day, I can see Werner’s point, and I am not sure that you quite are yet, Robert. You and Shel both have a mass of anecdotal evidence (much cited above in this post) and you have some impressive overall numbers, but you don’t have anything that ties the two together–the argument is entirely by inference, and that isn’t completely convincing from some points of view.

    I don’t think I was as aggressive as Werner but I had some of the same questions, and they weren’t answered convincingly either at the discussion (which was great, incidentally, I don’t want you to think it wasn’t a good presentation) or in the follow-up posts that either you or Shel have made. I don’t disbelieve any of the citations you have made, I just don’t feel like they complete the argument that blogging is a great approach for, well, everybody. It’s worked well for certain businesses, no question. But I think you should spend more time on where it hasn’t worked, and for what businesses, and come up with some supportable arguments as to why that is. Because there are a lot of blogs out there, and a limited number of success stories. And in some respects, when you talk about the numbers explosion in the blogosphere, it begs the question as to just how many blogging plumbers can find success in the field. When I mentioned the issue to Shel, he just kept hitting me with those anecdotes from above. Awesome, I’m happy for all those guys–but that’s not an answer.

    Great talk, and I’m glad you are taking the opportunity to expand on the discussion… and I still think it would be a great show to get you and Shel in a room with Nick Carr and started on this subject. :)

  37. In a sense, this whole little tempest exposes corporate blogging’s dirty little secret: All we have is anecdotal evidence — stories — from mainly small companies about the power of blogging. Unfortunately, until we have quantitative/data driven case studies that show a demonstrated bottom-line impact of blogs on a host of large, Fortune 100 companies, the “is blogging worth it” question will not go away. (Hell, I’d LOVE to see those case studies myself!)

    Even then, you cannot extrapolate from one company to another, because blogging is intensely personal. What would be the ROI to Amazon of more fully embracing blogging? Hard to say, honestly. Fpr example, who knows what pent-up ideas and advice might exist out there in their customer base? Who knows what passionate people there are who would be more likely to share their ideas via a blog, where other people can see them, than through a customer service form?

    When you think of blogging as social network building, as I do, the investment you are making is in increasing the number of people connected to your organization. A bigger network has more potential value. Should companies at least start actively nurturing and expanding their networks through the use of a tool that is outstanding for just that? I think so!

  38. In a sense, this whole little tempest exposes corporate blogging’s dirty little secret: All we have is anecdotal evidence — stories — from mainly small companies about the power of blogging. Unfortunately, until we have quantitative/data driven case studies that show a demonstrated bottom-line impact of blogs on a host of large, Fortune 100 companies, the “is blogging worth it” question will not go away. (Hell, I’d LOVE to see those case studies myself!)

    Even then, you cannot extrapolate from one company to another, because blogging is intensely personal. What would be the ROI to Amazon of more fully embracing blogging? Hard to say, honestly. Fpr example, who knows what pent-up ideas and advice might exist out there in their customer base? Who knows what passionate people there are who would be more likely to share their ideas via a blog, where other people can see them, than through a customer service form?

    When you think of blogging as social network building, as I do, the investment you are making is in increasing the number of people connected to your organization. A bigger network has more potential value. Should companies at least start actively nurturing and expanding their networks through the use of a tool that is outstanding for just that? I think so!

  39. [...] Scoble attempts a response to the question about quanitifiable ROI, but without much success: I totally forgot to mention that big companies like Boeing (Randy’s journal is a blog done by an executive there) , General Motors (Bob Lutz, an exec at GM has a blog), and Wells Fargo (which recently started blogging on its history) are seeing enough of a reason to start a blog (and continue doing them, even after the first year). The teams at Boeing and GM say they are pleased with the response and effect of their blogging and plan to continue doing them. [...]

  40. Scoble, did any of the companies you interviewed link blogging with something negative?

    And, how about the long term effects? Do you have evidence that it matters in the long run?

  41. Scoble, did any of the companies you interviewed link blogging with something negative?

    And, how about the long term effects? Do you have evidence that it matters in the long run?

  42. There’s a great Harvard Business Review article entitled, “Change the Way You Persuade.” The central idea is that business executives have different styles requiring different methods of persuasion. Some will accept anecdotal evidence while others can only be convinced by hard, quantitative data. Some (Werner???) are always the smartest person in the room and can only convince themselves (so trying to persuade them only gets you deeper mistrust — these folks you just provide info and hope they “get it”).

    The bottom line is the responsibility lies with the persuader, in this case Shel and Robert. If Werner wasn’t satisfied, then, by definition, some different methods were required. Like maybe providing different types of evidence that will appeal to different people. And if the person you’re trying to persuade can’t take a joke or be civil, well, there’s a way to handle that too…

  43. There’s a great Harvard Business Review article entitled, “Change the Way You Persuade.” The central idea is that business executives have different styles requiring different methods of persuasion. Some will accept anecdotal evidence while others can only be convinced by hard, quantitative data. Some (Werner???) are always the smartest person in the room and can only convince themselves (so trying to persuade them only gets you deeper mistrust — these folks you just provide info and hope they “get it”).

    The bottom line is the responsibility lies with the persuader, in this case Shel and Robert. If Werner wasn’t satisfied, then, by definition, some different methods were required. Like maybe providing different types of evidence that will appeal to different people. And if the person you’re trying to persuade can’t take a joke or be civil, well, there’s a way to handle that too…

  44. Robert,

    I’ve read a bit on this subject now, and it seems to me like Werner was treating this as a sales presentation. I know from experience that sales presentations full of anecdotal evidence tend to be BS. Multi-level marketing anyone?

    The question at hand is about focus. It’s not about whether a blog _can_ help a company, but about _how_ to use the blog to help a company. The answer is going to be different for each company, falling into common styles of company blog.

    Early web advertising saw a rush for everyone to get banner ads in place. Once that rush passed, questions about effectiveness began to be asked.

    The e-commerce world has enough experience to be sceptical of anything that comes without a metric. You would make a much more valuable contribution by suggesting what types of metrics could be used to verify effectiveness.

  45. Robert,

    I’ve read a bit on this subject now, and it seems to me like Werner was treating this as a sales presentation. I know from experience that sales presentations full of anecdotal evidence tend to be BS. Multi-level marketing anyone?

    The question at hand is about focus. It’s not about whether a blog _can_ help a company, but about _how_ to use the blog to help a company. The answer is going to be different for each company, falling into common styles of company blog.

    Early web advertising saw a rush for everyone to get banner ads in place. Once that rush passed, questions about effectiveness began to be asked.

    The e-commerce world has enough experience to be sceptical of anything that comes without a metric. You would make a much more valuable contribution by suggesting what types of metrics could be used to verify effectiveness.

  46. Let’s see… Bob Lutz of GM starts blogging and GM loses $12.9 BILLION dollars! I’m convinced of the power of blogging now!!!!

  47. “blogging doubled sales at Stormhoek winery, according to its CEO”

    I think this sentence, on its own, shows why, Werner was right to give you guys a rough ride and demand some real figures. The actual first line of the story you link to is this:

    “South African producer Stormhoek has doubled sales of its wine with a campaign directed at the blogging community.”

    Can you see the difference? Stormhoek didn’t double its sales through blogging: it increased them by marketing to bloggers. That’s a very, very different claim. The only actual indication of how many bottles that were sold via blogging is the 100 bottles sent out via Hugh – of 100,000 sold. How many of those 100 bottles were turned into further sales? How many people who bought Stormhoek did so because they’d heard of it via a blog? And how much more significant was the fact that Sainsburys, Asda, Oddbins, Majestic, Waitrose and Somerfield – all major UK wine sellers – started stocking the brand?

    That’s what Werner means by a lack of hard figures. Now Amazon has a LOT of hard figures about its customers. It knows everything you’ve bought, and how many things (and what) you’ve bought after a recommendation. It knows who your friends are, because they bought you things from your wishlist. It knows what you sold through its marketplace, it knows if and what complaints you made. THOSE are hard facts, and from them Amazon can tell a much greater range of things about its customers than any amount of blogs would.

  48. Let’s see… Bob Lutz of GM starts blogging and GM loses $12.9 BILLION dollars! I’m convinced of the power of blogging now!!!!

  49. “blogging doubled sales at Stormhoek winery, according to its CEO”

    I think this sentence, on its own, shows why, Werner was right to give you guys a rough ride and demand some real figures. The actual first line of the story you link to is this:

    “South African producer Stormhoek has doubled sales of its wine with a campaign directed at the blogging community.”

    Can you see the difference? Stormhoek didn’t double its sales through blogging: it increased them by marketing to bloggers. That’s a very, very different claim. The only actual indication of how many bottles that were sold via blogging is the 100 bottles sent out via Hugh – of 100,000 sold. How many of those 100 bottles were turned into further sales? How many people who bought Stormhoek did so because they’d heard of it via a blog? And how much more significant was the fact that Sainsburys, Asda, Oddbins, Majestic, Waitrose and Somerfield – all major UK wine sellers – started stocking the brand?

    That’s what Werner means by a lack of hard figures. Now Amazon has a LOT of hard figures about its customers. It knows everything you’ve bought, and how many things (and what) you’ve bought after a recommendation. It knows who your friends are, because they bought you things from your wishlist. It knows what you sold through its marketplace, it knows if and what complaints you made. THOSE are hard facts, and from them Amazon can tell a much greater range of things about its customers than any amount of blogs would.

  50. Good post, Robert. I take issue with one statement: “I also totally forgot that Howard Dean raised more money in the last presidental race than other candidates because of his blog.” This is (arguably) probably not correct, in that Dean’s effective use of Meetups plus online donation tools probably had far more impact than the blog. I don’t know of any campaign where you can relate the use of a blog to funding or actually winning, but expect to see some of that in the next elections.

  51. Good post, Robert. I take issue with one statement: “I also totally forgot that Howard Dean raised more money in the last presidental race than other candidates because of his blog.” This is (arguably) probably not correct, in that Dean’s effective use of Meetups plus online donation tools probably had far more impact than the blog. I don’t know of any campaign where you can relate the use of a blog to funding or actually winning, but expect to see some of that in the next elections.

  52. Why are the posts at mini-microsoft anonymous? And if Microsoft employees are so smart, why aren’t they working for themselves?

    See, it just doesn’t work.

    Answer the question though. Why would people prefer to hear from Amazon over the authors who sell on Amazon and the other customers at Amazon?

  53. Why are the posts at mini-microsoft anonymous? And if Microsoft employees are so smart, why aren’t they working for themselves?

    See, it just doesn’t work.

    Answer the question though. Why would people prefer to hear from Amazon over the authors who sell on Amazon and the other customers at Amazon?

  54. [...] You recall it wasn’t but a few days ago that Scoble took some real heat over an errant report about the delay of Vista. Well, after a visit with Amazon recently, in which Amazonians took a critical view toward the use of blogs, a blogging tiff has arisen. (See here, here and here; oh, and doesn’t Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels look happy in that photo? It looks like it was taken from a police lineup!) Anyway, by now, things are beginning to subside. Scoble is apologizing, and so is Werner. [...]

  55. Proclamations such as: “Blogging helps Company X double its sales!” (or triple, or whatever phenomenal percentage growth number) are as credible as the ones shouted out by the hosts of those ubiquitous Sunday-afternoon-on-channel-54 30-minute infomercials.

    For every success story attributed to blogging, I can easily name another success story that’s got nothing to do with blogging — for instance, iPod, Harry Potter books, I can go on and on.

    I don’t think Robert meant to say that blogging will take companies to the commercial promised land. Blogging is one of the many marketing tools. Some marketing execs swear by the Sunday-afternoon infomercials, some will avoid them like the plague. But one thing is for certain — blogging costs almost nothing (well, your time), whereas infomercials cost more than a pretty penny to produce.

  56. Proclamations such as: “Blogging helps Company X double its sales!” (or triple, or whatever phenomenal percentage growth number) are as credible as the ones shouted out by the hosts of those ubiquitous Sunday-afternoon-on-channel-54 30-minute infomercials.

    For every success story attributed to blogging, I can easily name another success story that’s got nothing to do with blogging — for instance, iPod, Harry Potter books, I can go on and on.

    I don’t think Robert meant to say that blogging will take companies to the commercial promised land. Blogging is one of the many marketing tools. Some marketing execs swear by the Sunday-afternoon infomercials, some will avoid them like the plague. But one thing is for certain — blogging costs almost nothing (well, your time), whereas infomercials cost more than a pretty penny to produce.

  57. The benefits of blogging at a small, unknown company can have a direct impact on website traffic and therefore business. This is especially the case in a field such as a tailor or a winery where blogging is a new way to interact with clients and the blog generates interest from not only existing clients but also the curious (and mainstream media looking for a good story).

    For larger companies the benefits are different. There is already an established channel for communicating with the market and a reputation built upon these channels. Blogs amplifies an existing message so the benefits are harder to measure. A blog is unstructured and spontaneous so it’s impact does not lend itself to formal metrics that traditional marketing campaigns are built around.

    As Elizabeth says above, it’s best to think of blogs as an oppportunity to communicate on a personal level with your most engaged customers. It is also a way to reach out to potential customers by building the number of connections in your company’s social network. That is the true value of a corporate blog and until someone can agree on a price for a social network ($2 billion for Facebook anyone?) it’ll be difficult to put an exact ROI on a corporate blog.

  58. The benefits of blogging at a small, unknown company can have a direct impact on website traffic and therefore business. This is especially the case in a field such as a tailor or a winery where blogging is a new way to interact with clients and the blog generates interest from not only existing clients but also the curious (and mainstream media looking for a good story).

    For larger companies the benefits are different. There is already an established channel for communicating with the market and a reputation built upon these channels. Blogs amplifies an existing message so the benefits are harder to measure. A blog is unstructured and spontaneous so it’s impact does not lend itself to formal metrics that traditional marketing campaigns are built around.

    As Elizabeth says above, it’s best to think of blogs as an oppportunity to communicate on a personal level with your most engaged customers. It is also a way to reach out to potential customers by building the number of connections in your company’s social network. That is the true value of a corporate blog and until someone can agree on a price for a social network ($2 billion for Facebook anyone?) it’ll be difficult to put an exact ROI on a corporate blog.

  59. I also totally forgot that Howard Dean raised more money…

    You also forgot to mention it became the biggest political bubble in American history. The scream heard around the world. It did get him in the Chair of the DNC, much to the delight of Republicans everywhere.

    I didn’t represent blogging very well and didn’t back up the thesis

    More of same. You spent a whole book of meaningless case studies all hobbled together, to prove what you deem to be self-evident. No reason why you would suddenly start to kick in with some real meaty numbers. It’s but a cult, if you question or demand hard stats, you don’t “get it”.

    But boy, for a PR Pro, Shel sure has a habit of getting stuck in the muck. That Nick Carr jab was classless.

    But Werner Vogels hit nail on head. Bravo. With this guy as CTO, maybe I should apply at Amazon.

    “Instead they appeared shell-shocked that anyone actually had the guts to challenge the golden wonder boys of blogging and not accept their religion instantly…”

  60. I also totally forgot that Howard Dean raised more money…

    You also forgot to mention it became the biggest political bubble in American history. The scream heard around the world. It did get him in the Chair of the DNC, much to the delight of Republicans everywhere.

    I didn’t represent blogging very well and didn’t back up the thesis

    More of same. You spent a whole book of meaningless case studies all hobbled together, to prove what you deem to be self-evident. No reason why you would suddenly start to kick in with some real meaty numbers. It’s but a cult, if you question or demand hard stats, you don’t “get it”.

    But boy, for a PR Pro, Shel sure has a habit of getting stuck in the muck. That Nick Carr jab was classless.

    But Werner Vogels hit nail on head. Bravo. With this guy as CTO, maybe I should apply at Amazon.

    “Instead they appeared shell-shocked that anyone actually had the guts to challenge the golden wonder boys of blogging and not accept their religion instantly…”

  61. In this whole episode, an attempt to prove the value of blogging to businesses has got buried in the talks of manners, rudeness (probably egos too!). A genuine debate on the value of blogging to businesses and probably some specifics for Amazon will benefit the corporate world.

  62. Michael Drips had a great take too…

    If you want to present to groups like the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Amazon and whoever else then you’d better be able to answer real world questions and not spin those questions to the rest of the world as “being treated rudely”.

    Disagree or ask questions, and you are rude or a troll. I know that game. ;)

  63. In this whole episode, an attempt to prove the value of blogging to businesses has got buried in the talks of manners, rudeness (probably egos too!). A genuine debate on the value of blogging to businesses and probably some specifics for Amazon will benefit the corporate world.

  64. Michael Drips had a great take too…

    If you want to present to groups like the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Amazon and whoever else then you’d better be able to answer real world questions and not spin those questions to the rest of the world as “being treated rudely”.

    Disagree or ask questions, and you are rude or a troll. I know that game. ;)

  65. [...] Robert Scoble posts good background info about business blogging; oddly enough, his posts is the result of a bit of contention following a talk he gave, along with Naked Conversations co-author Shel Israel, at Amazon. The contention was with Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO, whose questions were evidently either challenging or rude, or maybe both. Shel Israel describes the exchange: Amazon, to my surprise, turned out to be just about the toughest audience we faced. We got a great many questions challenging any contention that Amazon would benefit from blogging in any way. They voiced fears of losing control, IP, blog fraud, nasty comments and so on. Additionally, there was also a contention that Amazon uses enough mechanisms–forums, comments etc., to know what their customer thinks and that the brand should speak for all the employees. This profoundly disappoints me. While Robert and I received many words of encouragement following our talk, I left with the personal sense that it will be a tropical day in Seattle before any blogging between companies and customers is forthcoming from Amazon. I really hope that I’m proven wrong on this one. [...]

  66. Blogging is definately here to stay, but on a site as packed full of crap as Amazon, it comes off as an unecessary distraction IMO. It would seem like a good idea to just work with other existing bloggers to direct their loyal audiences toward Amazon.

  67. Blogging is definately here to stay, but on a site as packed full of crap as Amazon, it comes off as an unecessary distraction IMO. It would seem like a good idea to just work with other existing bloggers to direct their loyal audiences toward Amazon.

  68. Hey Robert,
    Two nights ago I attended (via my computer) the LIFT conference in Geneva where you (and my good friend Hugh) presented. Today I’m going out to buy your book. Watching yours and Hugh’s presentations felt like the equivalent of getting a four year degree in blogging. Very inspiring. Very insightful. Very much worth emulating. The thing that inspired me the most was that you’re one of those guys that wants everyone around you to be great. I find that so refreshing. You don’t have secrets. And you don’t build yourself up by leaving everyone else in the dark and keeping them small. Perhaps that is what bothers Amazon, nobody can be bigger (hence the name) and know anything that they don’t already know. (At least that’s my take on their attitude.) Big thanks for the inspiration. As a newbie blogger and business owner I applaud you.

  69. Hey Robert,
    Two nights ago I attended (via my computer) the LIFT conference in Geneva where you (and my good friend Hugh) presented. Today I’m going out to buy your book. Watching yours and Hugh’s presentations felt like the equivalent of getting a four year degree in blogging. Very inspiring. Very insightful. Very much worth emulating. The thing that inspired me the most was that you’re one of those guys that wants everyone around you to be great. I find that so refreshing. You don’t have secrets. And you don’t build yourself up by leaving everyone else in the dark and keeping them small. Perhaps that is what bothers Amazon, nobody can be bigger (hence the name) and know anything that they don’t already know. (At least that’s my take on their attitude.) Big thanks for the inspiration. As a newbie blogger and business owner I applaud you.

  70. You wrote: “Werner has now apologized”, but I don’t see any apology when I follow the link. He doesn’t seem to have changed his position, either.

    And neither you nor Shel has answered what I thought was the best question:

    “Why would people prefer to hear from Amazon over the authors who sell on Amazon and the other customers at Amazon?”

    You sure are good building up straw man arguments, though, like turning Carr’s suggestion of a blogging buddy into a “committee”. Makes me wonder why you go ballistic about misleading headlines.

    Sheesh!

  71. You wrote: “Werner has now apologized”, but I don’t see any apology when I follow the link. He doesn’t seem to have changed his position, either.

    And neither you nor Shel has answered what I thought was the best question:

    “Why would people prefer to hear from Amazon over the authors who sell on Amazon and the other customers at Amazon?”

    You sure are good building up straw man arguments, though, like turning Carr’s suggestion of a blogging buddy into a “committee”. Makes me wonder why you go ballistic about misleading headlines.

    Sheesh!

  72. I think the only fair thing to do here is to ask your publisher to no longer offer your book for sale through Amazon.

    Boy, that will show them!

  73. I think the only fair thing to do here is to ask your publisher to no longer offer your book for sale through Amazon.

    Boy, that will show them!

  74. OK…I’ll ask a question (using my real name :)).

    I’m an SDE at Amazon.com (look at my site, I’ve posted that I work there). I don’t talk much about my work because I’m not sure what I’m allowed to discuss. So I find it much easier to blog internally because I know that everything is fair game (tools that I’m using, techniques, problems I’ve run into, etc.). Of course my readership internally is probably lower than my readership externally (which is pretty low because I’ve come to realize that I’m not a very good writer and I get bored writing long entries. Steve Yegge is my hero when it comes to writing).

    A little about what my team does – we decide when something ships. But not completely. We are given a soft date we have to meet, and we do our best to meet that date. But sometimes inventory and what not aren’t there, and we miss the date. But the website is usually very good about setting expectations.

    So we decide when. We see every shipment. So what would my blogging about scalability issues do for the customer experience? They don’t care if I can’t handle 10 trillion shipments (number drawn at random). They want their stuff. I have a good idea about how some of the information on the website is generated, but I wouldn’t talk about it because it is so far away from me. I can’t blog about how to pick a better book or how to use the search engine more effectively because I am so far away from those technologies. Me blogging about that is going to be the same as anyone else blogging about it – a user.

    It makes sense to me for A9 and AWS to have blogs because they deal with the public. A9 with their OpenSearch initiative. AWS with the services they provide (S3 is awesome guys!). But for my team, what good would be brought to the customer? Now you can respond and say “But you could tell us how you decide when”. We could, but we won’t. That would require buy off from many other teams. Because we use their data as well. To discuss it would require OK from them.

    Now if the discussion was “does Amazon need to provide blogs for authors?”, I’m torn. I think we do a good job of collecting feedback with reviews. We have plogs now (although truth be told I turn that off). If you look at any item on the site, you can start a discussion on it (towards the bottom of the page). So would blogs directly help us? Would see something like http://blogs.amazon.com/ make us a better company and more responsive to what our customers want?

    It’s a good discussion to have. At least I think so…

    As for the other underlying bit about Werner being rude, I don’t know. I was in a dentist chair for close to 5 hours on Wednesday so I missed the talk :) But I do know that I’ve been in 2 meetings with him (not a lot I know), and he was very quiet :) He asked a few questions, and we all left with a good understanding of what needed to be done.

    Just some random, half coherent thoughts from an Amazon employee who just had lots of dental work done :)

  75. OK…I’ll ask a question (using my real name :)).

    I’m an SDE at Amazon.com (look at my site, I’ve posted that I work there). I don’t talk much about my work because I’m not sure what I’m allowed to discuss. So I find it much easier to blog internally because I know that everything is fair game (tools that I’m using, techniques, problems I’ve run into, etc.). Of course my readership internally is probably lower than my readership externally (which is pretty low because I’ve come to realize that I’m not a very good writer and I get bored writing long entries. Steve Yegge is my hero when it comes to writing).

    A little about what my team does – we decide when something ships. But not completely. We are given a soft date we have to meet, and we do our best to meet that date. But sometimes inventory and what not aren’t there, and we miss the date. But the website is usually very good about setting expectations.

    So we decide when. We see every shipment. So what would my blogging about scalability issues do for the customer experience? They don’t care if I can’t handle 10 trillion shipments (number drawn at random). They want their stuff. I have a good idea about how some of the information on the website is generated, but I wouldn’t talk about it because it is so far away from me. I can’t blog about how to pick a better book or how to use the search engine more effectively because I am so far away from those technologies. Me blogging about that is going to be the same as anyone else blogging about it – a user.

    It makes sense to me for A9 and AWS to have blogs because they deal with the public. A9 with their OpenSearch initiative. AWS with the services they provide (S3 is awesome guys!). But for my team, what good would be brought to the customer? Now you can respond and say “But you could tell us how you decide when”. We could, but we won’t. That would require buy off from many other teams. Because we use their data as well. To discuss it would require OK from them.

    Now if the discussion was “does Amazon need to provide blogs for authors?”, I’m torn. I think we do a good job of collecting feedback with reviews. We have plogs now (although truth be told I turn that off). If you look at any item on the site, you can start a discussion on it (towards the bottom of the page). So would blogs directly help us? Would see something like http://blogs.amazon.com/ make us a better company and more responsive to what our customers want?

    It’s a good discussion to have. At least I think so…

    As for the other underlying bit about Werner being rude, I don’t know. I was in a dentist chair for close to 5 hours on Wednesday so I missed the talk :) But I do know that I’ve been in 2 meetings with him (not a lot I know), and he was very quiet :) He asked a few questions, and we all left with a good understanding of what needed to be done.

    Just some random, half coherent thoughts from an Amazon employee who just had lots of dental work done :)

  76. >>On the other hand, I must buy Werner dinner some evening and thank him. (this put us on top of memeorandum for a couple of hours)

    Scoble, this is why you are where you are. It’s not said often enough that this is the point of blogging, having a conversation and being heard. Good job.

  77. >>On the other hand, I must buy Werner dinner some evening and thank him. (this put us on top of memeorandum for a couple of hours)

    Scoble, this is why you are where you are. It’s not said often enough that this is the point of blogging, having a conversation and being heard. Good job.

  78. Immediacy, Truth, and Loyalty

    Blogging works. But often I’m not sure even top bloggers know why, and convincing skeptics is often difficult with out facts to back up claims of blogging success. There are, however, three very tangible reasons why blogging is so effective:

  79. [...] חתולי הבלוגים בחוף המערבי שלפו את ציפורניהם השבוע ברב-קרב משעשע ומאלף, שיותר מכפי שלימד אותנו על הנושא עצמו (בלוגים בארגונים ובעסקים), הוכיח לנו שכשמדובר באגואים, הישראלים יכולים ללמוד לא מעט מעמיתיהם מעבר לאטלנטי. מעשה שהיה כך היה: רוברט סקובל ושל ישראל, מחבריו של הספר Naked Conversations שנושאו, כאמור, בלוגים בארגונים, הוזמנו להרצות בפני עובדי אמאזון. כ-120 איש נכחו בשיח, וביניהם גם אחד, ורנר ווגל, שהוא במקרה או שלא במקרה ה-CTO של אמאזון. ובכן, האיש, מסתבר, שאל את האורחים כמה שאלות קשות למדי והטיל עליהם את נטל ההוכחה כי טענתם, לפיה בלוגים הם כלי עסקי חשוב, אכן תקפה ומוכחת. כאן הגרסאות מתפצלות. בעוד שתלונתם העיקרית של האורחים היתה כנגד גסות הרוח והתוקפנות של המארחים, האחרונים טענו כנגד העדר-מוכנותם המביך של האורחים בבואם להציג את טיעוניהם בעד שימוש עסקי בבלוגים באמאזון. כך או כך, למי שיש סבלנות לעקוב אחר הפוסטים, והתגובות, והטרקבקים, מזומנת הצצה מרתקת לעולמם הילדותי-מעט ועתיר האגו של האיי-ליסטרים האמריקאיים. ואם תשאלו אותי, אומר לכם שעצם הסיטואציה, קרי הרצאה בנוכחותו של C level exec כמו ווגל, היא מתכון לצרות. ודאי בחברה ענקית כמו אמאזון. אני יכול לתאר לעצמי שמהרגע שהאיש פתח את הפה ושאל את השאלה הראשונה שלו, כל הזרקורים היו עליו – והוא ידע זאת טוב מאוד. הוא היה מוכרח לצאת טוב בפני עובדיו מהעימות עם סקובל וישראל, ובכל מחיר – כולל כתיבת הפוסט בבלוג שלו לאחר הפגישה. וכולל גם התגובה הקצת מיותרת שלו לפוסט של ריק סיגל. נו, טוב. בשביל כבוד הרי צריך לעבוד. [...]

  80. [...] Robert Scoble and Shel Israel got their collective selves clotheslined by Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels when they presented their case for business blogging to Amazon. Apparently Werner was rude to them and asked questions they could not answer. Ironically Robert is best mates with Dave Winer who is never politically correct when asking questions or calling someone out. It’s good to see them being brought down a peg or two, not because they are up their own ass or anything but because they do seem like the business blogging pinup boys and a dose of reality is needed in this arena. Fair play for Werner. I wonder if they presented to him before they released their book , would it have made their book stronger in the end? [...]

  81. Amazon Gets IM

    In order to get closer to their customers, humanize Amazon, increase sales, and stay modern, Amazon.com has decided to make all Instant Messenger (IM) handles of its employees public. This way Amazon.com customers will get unprecedented access to the t…

  82. Just an FYI – Dean’s success in raising funds during the primary has often been attributed to his positive use of blogs to connect with constituents. What was the powerful mechanism was the use of specific issues and the informality/unofficial nature of blogs that allowed for activists to get onboard and create the momentum. The question then becomes – do blogs support the line of the campaign/company – or the supporters/customers?

  83. Just an FYI – Dean’s success in raising funds during the primary has often been attributed to his positive use of blogs to connect with constituents. What was the powerful mechanism was the use of specific issues and the informality/unofficial nature of blogs that allowed for activists to get onboard and create the momentum. The question then becomes – do blogs support the line of the campaign/company – or the supporters/customers?

  84. Windows Media audio non-DRM’ed format here

    I’m not going to install Windows Media player to listen to audio that would be perfect in mp3 format. Why is the content in proprietary MS-only garbage?

  85. Windows Media audio non-DRM’ed format here

    I’m not going to install Windows Media player to listen to audio that would be perfect in mp3 format. Why is the content in proprietary MS-only garbage?

  86. For what it’s worth, I’m of the belief that blogging compliments some industries better than others. Businesses that require a “human face” day-in and day-out *need* blogs for the same reason they need mascots and spokespersons: to enhance their brand identitity, keep their message clear and consistent, and (most importantly) maintain a level of intimacy with people who use their product or service.

    I haven’t read your book, so I can’t comment on it directly. From what I’ve read online and my own observations about Amazon.com, I think one reason you got the reaction you did is because Amazon.com has never tried to put a “human face” on its brand.

    Granted, there’s a tech/media cult that surrounds Jeff Bezos, just like there’s one that surrounds Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. However I don’t think that Mr. Bezos or his company want him to be seen *as* Amazon.com, nor do they want employees who blog taking on that role.

    A big part of Amazon.com’s brand identity is that it is *the original .com retailer.* As such it doesn’t need or want any of the trappings associated with more traditional retail business models, including a “human face.” Instead, Amazon.com is a highly-automated, metrics-driven company and they’ve chosen to make those qualities defining aspects of their brand identity. Any sort of “personal” interaction with their customers on the part of their employees would dilute the value of these impersonal (but extremely efficient and effective) qualities.

    That’s my take on it anyway.

  87. For what it’s worth, I’m of the belief that blogging compliments some industries better than others. Businesses that require a “human face” day-in and day-out *need* blogs for the same reason they need mascots and spokespersons: to enhance their brand identitity, keep their message clear and consistent, and (most importantly) maintain a level of intimacy with people who use their product or service.

    I haven’t read your book, so I can’t comment on it directly. From what I’ve read online and my own observations about Amazon.com, I think one reason you got the reaction you did is because Amazon.com has never tried to put a “human face” on its brand.

    Granted, there’s a tech/media cult that surrounds Jeff Bezos, just like there’s one that surrounds Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. However I don’t think that Mr. Bezos or his company want him to be seen *as* Amazon.com, nor do they want employees who blog taking on that role.

    A big part of Amazon.com’s brand identity is that it is *the original .com retailer.* As such it doesn’t need or want any of the trappings associated with more traditional retail business models, including a “human face.” Instead, Amazon.com is a highly-automated, metrics-driven company and they’ve chosen to make those qualities defining aspects of their brand identity. Any sort of “personal” interaction with their customers on the part of their employees would dilute the value of these impersonal (but extremely efficient and effective) qualities.

    That’s my take on it anyway.