The second part of Naked Conversations by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble covers best practices and crisis management through blogs, among many things.One of the interesting things I learned when reading this book was to listen to your readers. Comments are free market research that shouldn’t be dismissed or disabled. Comments may leave a person/company feeling exposed because they are no longer in control.
Comments can be unpredictable, negative, nonsensical or offensive; no one wants to deal with the bullets fired directly by net terrorists out to cause problems just because they want to stir the pot and get a rise out of someone. This “griefing” should be ignored, but negative comments should be politely answered and taken as constructive criticism. Taking the audience’s advice lets you know where your blog needs to improve, gives free feedback and market research, and lets you know exactly what they want and expect from your blog.
I wanted to embed this video about blog comments as a humorous portrayal of what life would be like if we made the same inane comments as netizens, but couldn’t get the code from collegehumor.com to work with WordPress.
The government has yet to adapt to the blogosphere. Working for an NIH contractor, I’ve found the Institutes are afraid of negative comments. The government wants to be able to control all aspects of the information they provide, including feedback. I think this hurts their credibility and hinders their outreach. No matter how hard you try, you cannot please everyone; the government should have learned this lesson now that it is going on 230 years. Negative comments are to be expected. If your product is good, and in my case it is information to help people at risk for health complications, then people will come to your defense. I think if NIH allowed people to comment on their material, we would be able to drastically improve the content for hard to reach minorities by producing the information they are looking for. A lot of these groups already feel they are misunderstood and ignored; we could alleviate those feelings by giving these people a way to talk to us. Their comments might say we are doing a great job, or they may say we’ve got it all wrong and need to redo our outreach message.
I don’t think negative comments is only reason government sites don’t allow feedback. Someone needs to be hired and trained to moderate these comments. I think the lack of ability to monitor and approve all the comments made is a one reason some companies, such as the New York Times and the U.S. government, haven’t adopted this new communication tool. They think that this is more time consuming than it actually is, but we all know the government loves to pay people for their time even if it is spent filling out forms and taking smoke breaks.
Listening to the blogosphere also lets you know what people are saying about you on other blogs. This can be done using RSS aggregators, such as the Google Reader, to find mentions of your company – or anything of interest to you. I use the Google Reader to track all web hits on Ohio State football. The results run the gamut from injuries to scouting to fan predictions; the possibilities information tracking are as endless as the Internet itself. As stated before, the comments about your company on the Internet can be used to improve your site, reputation and company. The people talking about you are potential clients; their posts indicate an interest in your product or service. RSS feeds can be used to compile their thoughts and gives you the ability to meet what they are after.
RSS feeds have other benefits as well. RSS technology compiles all of your favorite blogs and sites in one location. Instead of visiting each page to check for new content, you only have to check your RSS aggregator. This makes tracking hundreds of sites easy to do. A quick scan of the reader keeps you up to date with news from around the web. Anything you no long have an interest in can be removed from your RSS aggregator. For advertising purposes, it is great if you get a customer to sign up. Hopefully, the message is not lost because the subscriber asked to receive the notification.
Naked Conversations also says you should not shut down an unsuccessful blog or rename it. As with real life, moving your location loses customers because they might not decide to find your new address. Even people that don’t like your service know your location, so moving forces everyone to relink to your page and build your subscription database back up. Readers will be lost in the transition.
The name of the blog should represent something to do with its contents. For example, I am interested in a variety of things. Most of these things involve digital technology. I also tend to ramble on loudly and sometimes incoherently, hence the title of this blog. When know the contents are going to be some noise about technology.
As with anything, blog posts shouldn’t affect your job. If you are blogging about something that can get you fired, you do so at your own peril. People should know not to publish sensitive data or confidential material. People do lose their jobs if they do not blog wisely.