In response to a WordBiz survey, 65% cite “the time it would take to write” as their most important concern about starting and maintaining a corporate blog. 51% worry what to write about. 27% wonder who in their company should write the blog.

Despite these legitimate concerns, 80% of the over 700 respondents say blogs are NOT just a fad; 55% say blogs will become a “must-have” corporate marketing tool. The survey was conducted in July and August 2005 through my newsletter, WordBiz Report.  [Download PDF of survey results.]

Wow. I was fascinated by these results.* They tell me that respondents are admitting to a healthy mixture of excitement and skepticism when it comes to corporate blogging. They see the advantages clearly: a way to give companies a human voice, to build community and to improve search engine rankings.

But they see that executing on the promise of blogging is more difficult than the immediate attraction of easy set-up and one-click publishing to the Web. Whether it’s crafting appropriate corporate blogging guidelines or navigating potential legal pitfalls, it looks like there might be more to corporate blogging than we initially thought. At least, those of us captivated by the idea of corporate transparency and authenticity. (And yeah, count me among those.)

It’s the underbelly of the corporate blogging phenomenon that I’m exploring (and trying to clearly explain) in my book. I’m not a naysayer. Far from it. But I’m trying to anticipate where this corporate blogging wave is going and where we’ll be a year from now. Questions I’m asking: Who’ll still be blogging (I hope GM’s Bob Lutz doesn’t run out of steam… ), what other innovative things will companies be doing with blogs and what results will they be seeing? Oh, and I’m burrowed in to write. I shouldn’t be out here in the daylight to blog this.

* Interestingly, these results mirror almost exactly those from an October 2004 WordBiz survey on blogging: 71% said “the time it would take to maintain” was their biggest concern about blogging; 46% worried what to write about; 14% fretted over who would write the blog.

Useful Links

My press release on the survey results.

Includes stats on the “non-adoption” thus far of RSS newsreaders as a way to subscribe to blogs. And another interesting stat: 70% of the over 700 who responded are familiar with the term “podcast.” The media blitz on podcasting appears to be successful.

As blogging grows, companies eye legal pitfalls (Reuters article)

“Cost in terms of man hours” seen as roadblock to corporate blogging (Backbone Blogging Survey)

Pew Internet Survey on Tech Term Awareness (Most Internet users don’t know what an RSS feed is)

“Only one in 10 Weblog readers using RSS” (Nielsen/NetRatings August 2005 survey)

Read on to learn more about why – or why not – blogging will become a “must-have” corporate marketing tool…

Responses to the WordBiz 1-Minute Blogging Survey

Question: Why – or why not – will blogging become a “must-have” corporate marketing tool?

Respondents wrote:

  • Eventually blogs will need to be part of everyone’s mix, just like email.
  • Blogs work for companies that have very large retail audiences (software, automotive, etc.) and for companies that sell technology services. Blogs are only effective when they generate participation.
  • For some it’s a must-have for getting the word out and for others it’s a must-follow to know what others are saying about your company, industry and products.
  • We are starting to want to understand the values and the story behind a company’s slick marketing ads.
  • Real-time feedback is going to be critical to put out the fires caused by bad or good press.
  • In my opinion, most companies will join the blogging bandwagon, but few, if any, blogs will make much business impact.
  • They give passionate customers a way to connect and interact.
  • They continue the dialogue started with email marketing. They’re part of the “walls falling down” predicted by the Cluetrain Manifesto and demanded by today’s savvy customer.

Question: Please elaborate on your concerns about maintaining a business blog

Respondents wrote:

  • To effectively blog requires more than just writing an occasional post. It requires reading other blogs to stay on top of what’s being said, so the real time commitment is bigger
  • Whether a blog would be appropriate for my industry
  • Getting a (blog) started and keeping it going
  • Getting traffic to the blog
  • Blogging works against the need to be targeted and succinct
  • Whether our audience is technologically ready for a blog
  • The controversial nature of comments left by readers
  • What, really, is the point? It won’t help us sell product and is an unlikely tool for building the brand.
  • Timidity and procrastination