Last week, my friend Toby Bloomberg posted 57 Blog 101 questions.They were excellent, but I think a few should be addressed by accelerated course enrollees more than entry level students. Among them, was #24, which she addressed directly to me: "Will blogs change marketing? Or will marketing change blogs?"
My short answers is, "Yes." But it's a bit more complicated than that.
Some background: I interviewed Toby in early summer for Naked Conversations. I intentionally selected Toby because she and I knew we had a fundamental disagreement. I saw blogs as part of a communications revolution and she saw them as an extension of the marketing department's communications arsenal. I saw character blogs as lacking in the transparency and was against them. Toby was a founding force in a character blog that seemed to e serving a client well. We had argued passionately on these subjects, sometimes ruffling a few feathers. But essentially we liked and respected each other. We still do.
We also, I assume, still disagree. Toby, who most certainly gets blogging and the social media is an unabashed marketing consultant. part of my consulting pitch says that I am no longer a marketing guy. I am a markets guy. The former sits in a room with others and figures out how he can take corporate messages and insert them into the foreheads of targets, the latter simply finds conversations that he or she can join. The markets person establishes trust and value to the community by bringing interesting and valuable information. This is what some of us call the "cult of generosity."
But that's all philosophy stuff. Maybe someday at a conference, Toby and I will be asked to debate these two viewpoints. I look forward to it with trpidation, because Toby argues her case well.
The question remains: In the two years, since I interviewed Toby for the book, has marketing changed blogging more than blogging has changed marketing.
In those two years, a great deal has happened. The number of businesses using social media tools has increased by the thousandfold. The number of attempts at character blogs and other contrivances has fallen significantly as a percentage of the whole. A majority of the world's largest corporations have bloggers, although many remain not officially sanctioned. And now that social media has extended into video, businesses are seeing all sorts of social media opportunities that were not even being dreamed about when I interviewed Toby back in the ancient days of June 2005.
And blogging as moved beyond the marketing department as well it should. It has become a killer tool of employee recruiters. It is being used as an internal collaboration tool for global teams. At least one company is using it to create a digital archives of the expertise of retiring employees. Scores of companies are experimenting with using social media to build open and closed online communities.
That's because blogging is not primarily a blogging tool. It is a communications tool. It allows scalable two-way conversations. Companies get wiser from what they hear almost as much as customers learn from what the companies say.
Today, more traditional marketers understand that a dialog is better than a monologue and are effectively embracing social media. As they do, and as they get more familiar and more adept at the growing social media tool shed, I think they will move further away from traditional marketing and more into community-based conversations.
Has blogging and social media taken off at the pace that Scoble and I thought it would? No. We vastly underestimated the loyalty that executives have to systems in place. We did not fully understand how slowly change comes to big business. It is that slowness that gives small companies the opportunity to disrupt incumbents.
And in that category--the category of the disruptive entrepreneur, blogging and social media has absolutely changed marketing. A good number of companies have gotten on to the playing field are growing and prospering or being acquired and prospering and thse companies are generally kicking large entrenched butt in a growing number of cases.
So the answer to your question, Toby, is "Blogging ans social media is absolutely changing what has been called marketing more than the reverse. When you tak into account that social media is to a great degree, the tools of the young, the direction we are headed is emblazoned in huge and neon lights across the sky. And the traditional marketers who see blogs as yet another way to shove out the same tired old crap, but into a new channel, are on headed toward Jurassic Park, where they can hang out with other fossils who could not adapt for change.
Your turn, Diva.