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This semester my class has revolved around types of new media and how IMC (integrated marketing communications) can use these media to connect with consumers.  But what exactly is new media?  A simple definition is that new media is a general term for all forms of communication that are a result of the use of computer technologies.  This is contrary to old media which is represented by print, magazines and any other communications that are static in their presentation.  The main identifying element of new media is that it has the capability of being interactive.  So what are some examples of new media?  Here’s a few of the more popular, but of course, this list grows almost daily. 

  • Web sites
  • streaming audio and video
  • chat rooms
  • e-mail
  • online communities
  • Web advertising
  • DVD and CD-ROM media
  • virtual reality environments
  • integration of digital data with the telephone, such as Internet telephony
  • digital cameras
  • mobile computing
  • Naturally, all of these new technologies have put a serious crimp in the print business.  I’ve posted before about the demise of the newspaper business and it doesn’t seem like its going to get any better.


     So of these, which is the most important to those who practice IMC?  The actual question is which of these is of no value to IMC practitioners?  The answer is none.  All of these methods of communication are important and useful to interact and build a relationship with consumers.  As more and more become plugged in and logged on, the importance of staying digitally fresh and up to date becomes apparent. 

    The most valued consumer relationship is one that is interactive.  This means that the consumer knows they can communicate with a business and be heard.  Whether this is through a corporate blog where consumers can post their product opinions or through twittering with representatives of Barack Obama, people want to interact and they want to do it digitally.


    There are sure alot of blogs out in cyber world now.   But do you know what a blog is?  I know some people don’t because when I tell them I’m writing a blog, they ask what in the world is a blog and why am I writing one.  My quickest explanation is that a blog is an online diary where you write whatever happens to be on your mind and then invite others to read your thoughts and post comments.  For some, this is a matter of self-expression–the need to write down and share their thoughts on anything from daily homesteading activites to political ramblings and ravings.  For others, writing a blog is part of their effort to further their brand’s recognition and awareness.  Many corporate blogs are designed for this purpose.  And there are some that are really good at getting their message across without sounding like they’re trying to shove advertising down your throat.  I’ve written about corporate blogs before and I still feel that two of the best are Dell’s and Kodak’s.

    What is apparent about these two blogs is the passion for the products the bloggers are discussing.  They are not just raving about computers or cameras, they are sharing their interests and product expectations with others who do the same.  Because their products encourage lots of consumer interest, drawing these folks into reading the blogs and commenting is fairly easy.  However, what do you do when you have a product that doesn’t necessary have a huge following yet?  Or how do you encourage communication with those people who may be interested in what you have to say about your product?  In other words, how do you chum in readers to your blog?


    I like to read–alot.  Some of my favorite authors have created blogs to discuss what they are currently working on.  This helps to create interest for their upcoming books and hopefully aid in sales.  Some of the ways that these authors encourage readers to visit again and again is to hold contests.  One of my favorite authors, Gena Showalter, not only posts regularly on her blog  (also a way to chum in visitors), but she routinely holds contests for her readers to win books.  And what serious reader doesn’t want to win a book?  When looking at ways to increase traffic to my blog, I posted on two forums where I’m a regular visitor, and  I asked for people to visit and comment on my blog and at the end of 3 weeks I would choose a prize winner.  For visitors I offered either $15 to be used in the BYC store or a $15 Amazon gift card.  For I offered a choice of several popular hardback books, $15 Amazon gift card or 4 credits to be used at PBS.  Both of these posts led to many new visitors to my blog.  The amount of traffic increased tremendously with some  very nice comments made.  Just check out the stats below.  You can easily see how much the traffic jumped in response to my posts announcing my contest.


    So what do you think of corporate blogs?  Do you know what a corporate blog is?  According to Wikipedia a corporate webblog is published and used by an organization to reach its organizational goals. The advantage of blogs is that posts and comments are easy to reach and follow due to centralized hosting and generally structured conversation threads.

    Wikipedia goes on to explain  two types of corporate blogs.  Internal–meant for employees to view and comment on and external–published for the public to view.

    The question here involves those corporate blogs created for the public to view, comment on and follow.  Are these blogs being visited? Do consumers take the time to look for and then read a company’s blog?  Why would they or why wouldn’t they?  It seems that the goal of an external company blog would be to build a relationship with their consumer by providing news and up to date information about their products.  While many attempt to do this, often the blog posts come across as nothing more than press releases—looked upon as just another company marketing attempt.

    Josh Catone who blogs for Sitepoint, an online media company, discusses 15 companies who are successfully providing interesting, stimulating blogs that encourage discussion among readers.  Quoting  from a  Forrester Research report on corporate blogs, Catone discusses how  most B2B blogs are “dull, drab, and don’t stimulate discussion.”  Most of these businesses have not seen a significant value for their blogging attempts, either. The Forrester report suggests that companies not discontinue their blogs, but rather to boost their entertainment value so as to attract and keep interested consumers.

    Some of Catone’s favorite corporate blogs include the following with his comments:

    DellThough Dell’s corporate blog rarely strays from Dell-centric news, the company posts with a great conversational voice, often breaks news on their blog (which keeps people coming back), and listens and responds to customers. Dell also posts regularly (1-2 posts per day at least) which keeps content fresh and encourages repeat visits.

    AdobeAdobe offers a huge collection of employee blogs, many of which are great reads. By allowing employees to blog, Adobe has empowered them to evangelize their products for them — many post tutorials, advice, reviews, and other great tid-bits promoting Adobe products — while not pigeon holing them into talking only about Adobe.

    Southwest AirlinesSouthwest Airlines’ “Nuts About Southwest” blog doesn’t take itself too seriously — and that’s a good thing. The company blogs about itself and the airline industry with a personal touch and has been producing a series of fun, behind-the-scenes videos that are both interesting and engaging.

    While these are great examples of successful corporate blogs, it doesn’t help the image of corporate blogs in general.  A recent article in Business Week written by Heather Green, (December, 09), further quotes the Forrester Research report with the amazing figure that only 16% of consumers put any trust in corporate blogs.  They rate these blogs on the trust scale lower than direct mail, print media and even corporate emails.   So what’s the secret to encouraging a brand relationship with your customer through the use of corporate blogs?  What is it that’s going to make the consumer sit up and take notice of your company’s blog?

    A recent posting on The Agitationist discusses the trust issue with an eye on what a social media team can do to help.  The main gist of this post seems to be that a corporate blog must offer the consumer something– desired information, a solution to a problem, a believable insight into the company, entertainment, and a place where consumers can post their opinions and have proof that they have been listened to.  This may be why Dell has been so successful with their blogging.  By listening and responding to their customers’ ideas and opinions, they have created an active and interesting blog.  Direct2Dell is a prime example of how a coporate blog should work.

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