When does a blog have an effect opposite of that which was intended

And is it really a blog if you have to register to see it?

SAP should be thanking Cornelius. Instead, he gets a defensive e-mail from their “Business Community Manager”. Yeah, you read that right…the person responsible for managing their business community. I love when job titles are ironic.

Communities are a great thing. People join formal communities (that require registration) because there is something specific they want to get from that community.  Blogs can build community, but are a more open medium that sit outside the myopic scope of traditional member-based communities. Companies may want to protect themselves by only allowing the converted to access their blog content, but the real interesting conversations happen where people have differing interests.

It would be like me requiring that you send me your resume if you want to read my blog. Kind of defeats the purpose.

Come on SAP. Figure this one out. Your products and your brand are being talked about (both positively and negatively) whether you acknowledge it or not. You have a choice as to whether to be part of the conversation. And there’s a lot of value in the conversation.

By the way, a little plug for Cornelius’ blog, which I just discovered today through Technorati:

CorpBlawg is a web log on corporate/enterprise/business blogging that is maintained by Cornelius Puschmann.

Cornelius is currently a PhD student at the Department of English Language and Linguistics of the University of Duesseldorf, Germany. His interest in corporate blogging stems from the fact that he is writing his dissertation on the corporate blog as a genre, claiming (somewhat optimistically) that he can find linguistic features which are unique to corporate blogs.

Yeah, what that says is that Cornelius is pretty much smarter than the rest of us ; )

Comments (11)

  1. HeatherLeigh says:

    Darn it, Cornelius just commented and I accidentally deleted it. I’m really not enjoying the comment moderation interface in my blogging tool at all right now.

    Cornelius, if you are reading this, please come back and post your comment again! (I couldn’t find a contact linnk on your blog).

  2. Hey, no worries, happens to the best 😉

    I can’t remember exactly what I wrote last night, but I think main point was that I sincerely hope SAP will look at their executive blogs and think again about keeping them tied to their register-only business community. While I’m nagging already, it would also be cool to see a little more executive blogging from Microsoft (has Ray Ozzie fallen through the cracks of Windows Live Spaces?). People like getting unfiltered views, especially from executives, but even more importantly it gives executives a chance to get unfiltered feedback from people outside of the company. Leading means listening (and learning), in my opinion. Sorry if I’m sounding like a consultant. Just my $0,05. 🙂

  3. Robert Scoble and his commenters had this discussion out recently, and <a href="http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/2006/08/21/ok-ok-i-was-wrong-about-blogging/">decided</a&gt; that a blog didn’t need to be public to be a blog.

  4. eR0CK says:

    There are plenty of things wrong within SAP, even at the level I was in.  I left there four months ago 🙂

  5. Vicki says:

    Cornelius – interesting research for a dissertation, wish I had thought of it! 😉

    Viel glueck u. macht’s gut!


  6. Garrett: I fully agree that it doesn’t have to be public to be a blog. It also doesn’t have to be "personal", "updated frequently" and a whole number of other things which blogs supposedly "have to be" in order to count as blogs. These are typical features but not constitutive ones.

    I fact, I’d argue that the only defining features of blogs are

    a) some sort of publishing software is used (it hardly counts as a blog if you hand-code your stuff in HTML) and

    b) the blog consists of posts which are presented in reverse chronological order.

    Both of these are strictly formal/technical.

    My argument wasn’t really that SAPs executive blogs aren’t "real blogs", but that there’s no convincing reason for them to be registration-only.

    Vicki: it was sort of an epiphany for me which came after a number of really bad ideas. Shouldn’t keep you from writing about it too if you’re tickled, though. Someone needs to point out all of my false assumptions and correct me! 🙂

  7. Vicki says:

    Cornelius: Well, from my experience in my doctoral studies, it does seem like I only research others’ opinions… are you allowed to have assumptions of your own? LOL! 😉

    I wonder if there is a linguistical aspect to educational blogs? (My PhD focus in in higher education and technology management.)

    I just love the idea, Cornelius…. I have to present my potential topics to the committee in the next few weeks so your idea is very intriguing. Although, I am unsure if I could be a subject matter expert on the linguistical aspect and may have to revert to "tech speak" as found in academe. When will your work be published? Will it be available on Proquest?



    P.S. Heather….? May I ask a question? Pardon my ignorance, but…what is the meaning of your blog’s title, "One Louder"?

  8. Heather,

    You and Cornellius make some interesting points. In particular, I think you, Heather, are dead on with your comment about SAP having an oppportunity to be part of the conversation. I think SAP’s reaction is because of the  monumental shift in communications that blogging entails.

    Let’s face it, marketers and PR pros are experienced at creating monologues, not dialogues, with their targets.

    There is no precedent for the dialogue the web enables (in terms of conversations, anonymity).  Consequently, it’s a brave new world without a lot of equivalently brave new souls. Corporate managers from companies marketing, PR — and yes, legal, are often far less than eager to embark in these waters.

    I do agree that SAP would benefit by not requring registration for the blog and RSS (that’s a statement about the brand right there).

    On a final note, Heather, I am glad your own blog is public! Because it is public, I was able to find it doing a search in Google and join in on the conversation — while thinking, wow, Microsoft has a very smart, cool recruiter named Heather Hamilton.  That is, your blog has helped further a good brand image for Microsoft. But maybe it’s okay that not all marketers see the value of blogs — that gives those that do an edge.

    (Disclosure: I do have a personal experience managing corporate blogging at the Fortune 500 level, which I suppose, gives me a bit of bias. However, I’m hardly a member of the blogging bandwagon. I’d consider myself a believer in the power of intelligent and honest communications with the public — after all, I wear more than one hat, I am a manager and a consumer.)


    Peter DeLegge

    Publisher Marketing Today and MarketingHire.com