Blogging4Business Redux

After cracking on with two-days of work in the office to compensate for the long weekend and being out of the office at the Blogging4Business conference that I attended on Wednesday. I have finally got enough time to collect my thoughts on the event.

Lloyd Davis has done a great job of the raw content from the conference, so I won’t repeat his efforts.

I was fortunate to be on a panel ‘Messaging the Message – how PR is adapting to consumers who talk back’ with Tamara Littleton of eModeration and Darren Strange, a product manager at Microsoft.

There was a nice mix of views, we didn’t agree on everything, but that helped with the dialogue and flow of the panel. The discussion was covered by BBC journalist Simon Atkinson ‘Companies urged – Let your staff blog’.

Following on from the panel, I managed to meet a number of familiar faces from the blogger community there including Mecca Ibrahim, Ellee Seymour, Guillaume du Gardier, Antony Mayfield and Struan Robertson, lawyer and editor of Out-Law.com.

Take-aways

Question and Answer services like Yahoo! Answers, MSN QnA and Lycos IQ offer companies an easier way to interact with consumers. The provide a more accessible solution than wikis for the less web savvy consumer and are more accessible due to their higher profile than a traditional forum. Part of the reason of this visibility is the cross-network promotion deployed by the likes of Yahoo!.

Yahoo! has looked to address one of the main needs for organisations to get more involved in Answers by facilitating corporate profiles, however it was painfully obvious that there isn’t yet an effective mechanism for PR people and companies to monitor the service for brand mentions and questions to respond.

Speaking of monitoring I spoke to people from Attentio and my friend Mark Rogers of Market Sentinel: language and geography are still pretty much insurmountable issues for the monitoring services present at the event (to tackle by machines – clarification for Simon).

Top-level domains and geographic mapping by IP-address blocs aren’t valid since bloggers around the world are using services that are not hosted in the same country that they are in. For example, this blog is hosted in California and the domain is registered in Australia with an administrator address in California.

There is no semantic solution currently available to tackle the challenge of telling the difference between British English, Australian English or American English. Companies are trying to compensate by using human intervention, but that is making the service close to the price that the market will bear and reducing margins.

Many of the attendees thought that social media would have moved on further over the past 12 months since the last conference. Instead common themes came through and saw it as a sign of continued immaturity. But you would see a similar kind of experience if you went to a conference on corporate communications, brand communications or corporate and social responsibility. This actually said to me that PR through social communications is maturing (at least from a strategic standpoint).

Customer / audience-centric communications was a key mindset that came out throughout the the different presentations and panels. I was surprised that this was a ‘new’ concept to much of the audience as marketing, let alone marketing communications is based on working everything back from the consumer.

Having a holistic approach rather than just having a blog or podcast as an adjunct to activity was something that Michael Steckler of Microsoft in particular touched upon. Again this seemed to be a surprise to many of the audience.

UPDATE: UAE site 7 Days has ran the BBC story verbatim, link here.