The idea behind corporate blogging is to somehow build a more effective connection between a company and its customers. By allowing customers to have a say in how the company functions – giving them “ownership” in a certain sense – there is both opportunity and risk. The risk is more obvious: what if they say bad stuff about us? The opportunity has been well documented by people like Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki – there is something incredibly attractive about a company that is truly willing to open itself up and “embrace” its customer base.
The truth of the matter is that I don’t have too much first experience with this idea. Yes, I’ve blogged in the past, but it was always more of a personal thing to amuse myself and my friends. Yes, I’ve played around with social media for marketing previous companies that I’ve been part of, but again this was in some way a half-hearted effort; not much more than randomly broadcasting “here I am” to anyone who would listen.
When I started Lichtman Consulting, I wanted to do things better, in a way that I had always somehow felt attracted to, yet never quite did – often because I couldn’t get buyin from my stakeholders (and other times because it is hard and takes real work). My goal was to build the kind of company that I had always admired from the distance. A company that listen to its customers. A company that gave them a say in matters. A company that is committed to Open Source, to community give-back, to making the world a better place. Not just words, but for real.
When I think of embracing my audience, I think of:
- let people comment on anything;
- respond to their comments;
- try to learn their needs;
- make an effort to change what I do to fit their needs better (even when it hurts);
- learn (and teach) constantly;
- care about stuff
I’m not convinced that I’ve totally nailed it yet. I mean I’ve seen other people do it, and do it well. People you’ve heard of too. I know I’m still new at this game, and that there is a lot to learn if I’m going to be any darn good at it.
Have some good ideas on embracing your audience? I’d love to hear from you!