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July 21, 2006

Blogging’s Affects on Word of Mouth Marketing

By Li Evans

In a matter of mere minutes a company can have a Public Relations nightmare on their hands with the advent of blogs and the relative ease news can travel across the planet, thanks to the internet. 20 years ago, companies did not have to worry about bloggers posting videos about their products being picked apart, blowing up or catching on fire.  Today marketers for major corporations have to be savvier about the online marketing presence they have and utilize it to their best advantage.

Within the last year or so there are several examples I can point to where companies handled their Word or Mouth issues with the blogosphere both extremely well, and extremely bad. However, it’s always the bad instances that stick out in people’s minds, and that’s what can within mere minutes tank a company’s well built reputation.

A primary example is last year’s Kryptonite’s PR disaster with their bike locks. The locks had an industry reputation of being unpickable. Thousand of bike messengers in New York City alone swore by these locks to keep their essential piece of their livelihood from falling into unwanted hands. Enter a small homemade video uploaded to the web, posted on a blog that showed exactly how to pick the Kryptonite lock with a mere ball point pen. Apparently the blogger had tried to contact the company about this issue, but his calls fell upon deaf ears. The video picked up steam and hit the forums and then, became a front page story on one of New York City’s leading newspapers.

Now lets turn to some examples of company’s starting to use their blogs for addressing issues, rumors and generally getting a hold on how their customers are feeling. The latest entry into the coporate blogging world is Dell. Feeling the heat from bloggers across the internet such as Jeff Jarvis for their lousy customer service and let’s not forget the recent PR nightmare of the Dell computer catching on fire,

Dell finally started reaching out to its customer base on July 5, 2006 when it started its one2one corporate blog. They even addressed the issue of the “Flaming Notebook” with a post explaining how they replaced the computer and are investigating the cause, pointing to a possible issue with the lithium ion battery and making sure to point out  that  “lithium ion batteries are used in billions of notebooks, mp3 players, PDAs and cell phones these days.”

The point here being is that if you are managing the online marketing for your major corporation, or even if its just a small company, you should be monitoring the “blog pulse” or “buzz” of your company online. Read industry forums, do searches, read industry blogs and get out there and keep a handle on the word of mouth happening with your company. And I can’t stress this enough, if you don’t have a corporate blog – START ONE. Not only can it help you squash silly rumors or address issues being raised by bloggers, it can help you actively promote products, services and most importantly reach out to a target audience that is already actively captivated!

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