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A More Critical Look at GM's Blog

John Cass offers a good critique -- I prefer to call it a helpful complement -- to my recent "First Year Report Card on GM's Blog." He noted that while I quoted from some readers' comments on the GM blog, I didn't actually interview some of those readers to get their assesssment of how well the Fastlane blog was serving their needs.

That's a good point. As Cass notes:

Many people had commented on the GM blog, but many did not receive a response from GM, even through customers perceived that they would receive a response.

Cass has suggestions for how GM could handle the issue in the future.

Anyway, thanks to John Cass for his good work on this issue.


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Thanks for the encouragement David. I think the scoop is turning from blogger interviews to blog reader interviews. Isn't that really the best way to get a pulse on the effectiveness of a blog?

I think I'd say that customer expectations are one critical element in determining the effectiveness of a blog.

You also have to look at corporate expectations and objectives.

But to me, the real story here is why so few major companies in the last year have embraced blogging? Only about 16 out of the Furtune 500 have done so.

The Forbes article in November hit at one of the reasons -- the vast reservoir of consumer anger out there (which itself is the result of decades of shoddy products, lack of corporate accountability, and lack of consumer recourse until the advent of blogging).

My argument is that the "conversations" that make or break a brand are happening anyway out there, so companies would be foolish to sit on the sidelines.

Get involved, develop a thick skin (until consumer frustration borne of powerlessness dissipates), and be willing to co-create your brand with your customers.

"be willing to co-create your brand with your customers." That's the key David, use your customers ideas to develop your products and brand. I think that blogging is really helping to put the marketing concept into action in a way no other communications tool has done before.

And it's not just marketing, John. We're also talking ab out "product definition" blogging or R&D; blogging.

Depending on the industry, between 40-90% of all new products fail in the marketplace. And when you query R&D; managers, they consistently put the blame for this high failure rate on their "inadequate understanding of the voice of the customer."

This aspect of blogging, product development, seems to me to be its most important contribution and value. But the amazing thing is that through the process of product development, product promotion and customer evangelism also occurs. My interviews with Macromedia, and their description of the process clearly illustrate this happening. It seems that GM product development has also gained from the experience, but sadly for GM, due to, err, lack of resources I presume, the company may have lost out on many of the product promotion benefits they could have developed.

I circled back to one of GM interviewee's recently and they told me they were looking elsewhere for a car due to a lack of response from GM.

John, for a new book I'm working on about blogging and business, could I interview you or get access to some of your interview material (with proper attribution, of course) with Macromedia, etc?

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