When I read Dan Farber's piece about the newly formed Blog Council the ol' BS detectors went on high alert. Unlike the blogerati that pounced on the idea declaring it bad, I believe it is dangerous. This isn't about blogging, social media or whatnot but about good old fashioned command and control applied to marketing and sales processes.
Some of those involved have publicly denied that's the case. Lionel Menchaca of Direct2Dell for instance says:
It's also not about control. For me at least, that has been decided—companies don't control the message, customers do. I hope that Dell (and other companies in the council that have made the leap into digital media) can work together to move companies past the false notion that we are still in control.
Lionel's supporters - like Shel Israel, want to give the Council a chance. I would too but when I examine the "four principles":
- Best Practices: Promoting corporate blogging excellence through best practices, standards, and training.
- Community: Providing networking and partnering opportunities for leaders of the corporate blogging movement.
- ROI: Developing metrics programs that help deliver measurable ROI from blog activities.
- Advocacy: Blog Council has a united voice to provide the corporate perspective in the blogosphere
these look suspiciously like the principles that led to the demise of knowledge management and gave it the appalling reputation it's been fighting against for so many years.
What is more intriguing still are the companies that are not among the initial chosen few. Where's IBM? Folk I know at IBM are saying they were not asked and even if they had, would likely decline. The reason given is they see the risks of social media becoming tainted by the very control issues that have made KM a dirty topic. Where also is Sun? They've had a decent set of blog principles in place for years. They operate a very light touch policy that has served them well.
I am surprised that SAP has signed up for this - at least on these terms. I am very familiar with the company's blogger outreach program and nowhere do I see evidence of a need to insert process in the manner implied by the four principles. Just in case folk think I'm getting confused, the development of these kinds of principles almost always has an impact on the people to whom the company is reaching out.
Finally and most worrying is the fact that nowhere in the Blog Council press release can I find reference to the need for transparency. This is something I believe needs addressing as we move into 2008 and will have a direct impact on communications and the business processes around them.