Corporations to Join the Blogosphere, or Not

A report published by JupiterResearch says 34 percent of large companies currently maintain Weblogs, and the number will likely double by year end.

The “Corporate Weblogs: Deployment, Promotion and Measurement” report says about 35 percent of large companies plan to implement Weblogs this year, bringing the number of businesses with blogs to close to 70 percent.

“The advent of corporate Web logs is going to be similar to the adoption curve [of company Web sites], people are beginning a Weblog like a corporate Web site,” said JupiterResearch analyst Greg Dowling.

Some in the industry such as Paul Rand, partner and global chief development and innovation officer at public relations firm Ketchum, are skeptical that blogging will take off so quickly. “More often what’s commonly used is the blog monitoring; the willingness to engage in the blog is still fairly limited,” he told ClickZ News.

Ketchum launched its personalized media service last year. At that time, Rand estimated that the agency’s clients would use at least one of the division’s services, which include blogs, podcasts, RSS, SEO and mobile marketing, within a year. That prediction has come to pass.

Monitoring of blogs is seen by many Ketchum clients as a necessary activity. “In terms of being involved in monitoring the blogs or actively engaged, at least half [of Ketchum’s clients use the personalized media service],” said Rand. The number of clients that have implemented corporate blogs; “not even close,” he said.

Transparency and community are most often the motives behind business blogs. Seventh Generation, an environmental household products producer, recently initiated its blog, The Inspired Protagonist. Seventh Generation President Jeffrey Hollender sees the blog as a means to communicate with both employees and consumers. Before creating a blog for Seventh Generation, Hollender and the decision makers at the company gave careful consideration of its objectives.

“We spent a fair amount of time to be clear on why we were doing this, and in keeping with who we are, which is about authenticity and transparency,” said Hollender. “If it doesn’t feel real, then people aren’t going to want to go there and read what’s posted.”

While a blog works for Seventh Generation, Rand fears that businesses could look to blogging as a cure-all, without realizing what they’re getting into. “There’s an increasing recognition in the power and sustainability of blogs. There is also an obligation with having a blog and doing it correctly,” he said.

Companies’ budgets for the implementation and management of Weblogs varies from no budget to over $5 million, according to the JupiterResearch study. Of the 251 executives that took part in the survey, 23 percent report budgets between $10,000 and $50,000. Almost 6 percent of respondents say their companies have allotted $5 million or more to create and run one or more corporate Weblogs. Five percent of respondents say they haven’t allocated any at all spending to a corporate Weblog.

Even if 70 percent of companies aren’t blogging by the end of the year, Ketchum’s Rand feels it is important for them to consider the implications, and at least listen to conversations on the blogosphere. “Companies are no longer thinking this is something they can choose to deal with or not deal with,” he said.

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