Most company blogs are dry and boring. Do these people even know what to do with social media or is the social media department handed over to people in a company that cannot be put to better use?As a specific example, he cites Parametric Technology Corp:
For example, PTC came up with this thing called "Social Product Development" and decided to create a blog named Social Product Development written by senior executives. The last post is dated September 3, 2009.Ironically enough, that final entry (written by one of PTC's five -- five! -- official bloggers) is entitled, "A Community for All." It sports four comments, two of which are from spammers -- indicating that no one is watching this particular hen house.
Dry and Boring
It is entirely predictable that many (not all!) corporate blogs are "dry and boring." Democratization (to employ that awful term Autodesk hasn't stopped using yet) of specialties leads to the lowering of quality.
This was seen clearly when the National Hockey League expanded from 24 teams to 30. Suddenly, 132 more professional hockey players were needed. (There are 22 on a team -- 4 lines of 5 players, plus the goalie and a spare goalie.) If the best 528 players in the world were already signed up, then adding 132 lessor players could only lower the quality of play. Which occurred.
Similarly, when the barriers to writing are low, much more bad writing appears, as those with no talent jump right in. (Witness the "penny dreadfuls" of 19th Century England.)
There the exceptions, of course. Lowered barriers allow people with talent to finally shine.
The marketing departments of corporations feel pressure to be up to date, to jump in, and then -- for the most part -- do a dreadful job. Those of us who write as a profession must write well to maintain our audience (and for some of us, our income). Corporate writing does not need to meet any standard of quality or quantity. Simply by existing, even dry social media is deemed a success by its attendant marketing department.
The good news: this too will fade, for the trend is sinusoidal. There used to be a lot of badly-made Web pages, before that, awfully-made newsletters. In the future, there will be new fingernails scratching our blackboards.
I agree with what you're saying, but I think there is something additional at play here. The act of creating a corporation is the act of depersonalizing an organization - removing the face of any individual. The phrase "corporate drone" has come to point out that some people are very good at depersonalizing themselves and blending into the corporate story line.
Blogging is a heart-on-your-sleeve heat-of-the-moment sort of thing, which is not really the strength of personality-less drones. If an individual were a great blogger and doing that job for a corporate blog, they would tend to become the face of the corporation, which I would guess the corporate PR people would discourage.
Corporations are too careful, too deliberate, to allow success in a medium that values immediate response and speculative opinion. After all, blogging is really about bringing power to individuals, wresting it back from the corporate usurpers. In my opinion, corporate blogs really "should" fail.
Posted by: matt lombard | Jan 14, 2010 at 07:48 AM
I author my blog to convey information about what Autodesk Labs has to offer as well as my personality. If my blog is boring, then my personality is boring, because that blog is all me.
Posted by: Scott Sheppard | Jan 14, 2010 at 09:42 AM
I appreciate your comments.
You’re right; we’ve taken our foot off the blogging gas. But, we’ve been churning away in R&D and are vetting with customers plans for more social-savvy solutions.
Still, we need to better balance the internal effort and the external communication.
More coming soon or the drinks are on me.
Dry & Corporate Czar
Posted by: Tom Shoemaker | Jan 14, 2010 at 09:56 AM
6 years blogging as the first Autodesk blog started as a science experiment. Still going strong in my own style and voice. A mix of tips, tricks, latest information, fun, warped humor, and stuff you may not find anywhere else but hopefully never stuffy or boring.
I think blogs no matter the source being corporate or not can be "dry & boring" but that is really in most cases the author, subject content, voice, layout, or the energy to properly care and feed a blog and gain an audience and keep the attention.
All blogs are susceptible to dry and boring, no blog is immune from that challenge.
Posted by: Shaan Hurley | Jan 20, 2010 at 07:32 AM