It's friday, the day I dump my junk mail box and have a chuckle at the latest Nigerian money laundering scams, and the artfully constructed emails exhorting me to take action to "have the beautiful breasts you've always dreamed of". I'm not sure which of these is these is the most laughable. Perhaps this morning it's the newly formed Blog Council that's burning up the charts on TechMeme, rather than something in my inbox. To recap: a bunch of really big companies have announced that they have this new, exclusive club, where they can all meet in private (out of the sight of bloggers presumably) to discuss their blogging strategies. Big name brands, like GM and Coke are part of the inaugural group. No little guys allowed.
Why is this happening now? One word: desperation. Earlier this week I spoke at the Canadian Institute Social Media conference in Toronto and showed this slide:
The numbers shown are the number of links into the various web sites of the bloggers and brands mentioned, as catalogued by Google. Google uses these links as one of the factors to determine how important a site is when ranking it. In simple terms, if Bell Canada and I publish on similar topics on our respective sites, Google is likely to rank a result from Saunderslog.com higher than Bell Canada. Bell is a huge brand, 125 years old, and one of the largest companies in the country, yet the one man band called Saunderslog.com might beat it in the search engine rankings. It's got to be concerning to them that folks like me, Michael Geist, and Mathew Ingram all have the same clout in the search engine as they do.
At the Social Media conference there were a bunch of presentations from big companies that really do get it. Yahoo's Hunter Madsen, and Scotia Bank's Michael Seaton were particularly inspiring. These are folks that are engaging their customers, one to one, online, and in ways that are truly effective. They're forging customer and brand loyalty one customer at a time on a scale that's never been possible before. That's the power of social media and blogging.
And the Blog Council? It's laughable, but it's also pathetic that the stewards of American business and some of the largest brands in the world have come to this point. Good heavens, people! Get a grip! You don't need a cozy little exclusive club to figure out what to do with blogs. Just get on the net, start talking to your customers and advocates, and start interacting with people outside the strictures of twentieth century command and control marketing.