Are you blogging? Business is listening.Corporations start to recognize importance of monitoring social media for impact to their business

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Dr. Joyce Brothers once said that listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery. If so, bloggers should be feeling mighty flattered these days.

One of the faster-growing areas of public relations these days is blog monitoring. The Web 2.0 equivalent of a clipping service, blog monitoring services scour the Internet's blogs for mentions of a client, client's competitor, or keywords suggesting an issue important to a competitor.

Even the normally-staid field of financial services is cupping a virtual hand to its ear, according to a recent Toronto Star article (hat tip to Maggie Fox). A "leading" (but unidentified) company in the sector has retained Environics Communications to keep tabs on what influential bloggers are saying:

"The whole emerging world of blogging has to be on the corporate agenda," said Bruce MacLellan, president of Environics Communications.

"You need to know how blogging is changing your reputation and the way people get information about your products and services."

(You can see an exchange about this story between MacLellan and PR blogger David Jones here.)

And as an increasing number of bloggers are discovering, blogging about a business often brings someone from that business knocking on the comment door. At its most positive, that can be a constructive engagement that – for a few moments, at least – puts an individual on the same footing as a large corporation. (And at its most insidious, you'll find the practice of hiring people to pose as just plain folks leaving comments on your blog that just so happen to recap the talking points from someone's boardroom.)

Businesses are doing this for one very good reason: it makes a difference to their bottom line. Bloggers can affect reputations, for better or worse; the conversational nature of most blogs allows a business to jump into the fray and present its point of view, potentially correcting misinformation and defusing issues before they flare out of control. On a more positive note, blogs can also serve as a handy early warning system, pointing to new trends and ideas long before the mainstream media pick up on them.

That's no less true for the civic sector. Governments, non-profits, community groups and activist organizations – and the issues that matter most to them – are all being discussed constantly by bloggers and their communities of commenters. Opening a channel of communication with those blogs can help you identify new allies, engage your constructive critics (and counter your destructive ones), and maybe find your organization's next great opportunity.

And the best way to start that conversation is by listening.

Find out more about monitoring the blogging world – and doing a lot more – with Alex's guide to using RSS to make non-profits more effective.


maggie fox says

November 10, 2006 - 3:53am
Hi Alex - thanks for the link, and a very informative post for business bloggers. I really like what you're doing here, and have subscribed!

maggie fox says

November 10, 2006 - 3:54am
Whooops! I mean ROB - sorry about that, I was looking at "Alex's guide to using RSS..." My bad! Sorry!:}

Rob Cottingham says

November 10, 2006 - 10:29am
No worries, Maggie - and thanks for pointing me to the Star story!

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