Very few observers would argue against the virtues of blogs as a way to share information, gather employee feedback or just generally brainstorm within the enterprise.
But what about a channel for talking to your customers?
We found it interesting that respondents to a poll at Silicon.com were basically split on whether business blogs are a good idea. Interesting -- but not entirely surprising, because customer-facing business blogs have so far proven to be hit-or-miss propositions, either generating a ton of corporate goodwill or being reviled as evidence that you really can't trust corporations, after all.
Wal-Mart has been pilloried for posting a "fake" blog, created by P.R. staffers, to chronicle the fictitious adventures of the Wal-Mart-loving R.V. owners. Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, on the other hand, has an enormously loyal following for his blog (in fact, the visibility and credibility Schwartz built via his blog may well have been a factor in his ascension at Sun).
So, to blog or not to blog? Experts agree that a successful corporate blog must have a personality attached to it, and above all else must be honest and forthcoming with readers.
Schwartz has it kind of easy on that front: He's a passionate technologist who shares that passion with a customer base that actually wants to know what makes Sun's products and services tick. (He also has a ready-made villain in Washington state to poke at from time to time).
We're trying to imagine how many of Wal-Mart's execs or customers share a similar passion for lawn mulch and discount hair care products.
So, if you have something to say that will affect your customers on a personal, emotional level, a blog may well be the right way to go. But marketing departments are there for a reason.