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Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

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Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for BBCNews.com.

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

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Monday, October 18th, 2004

State of the Corporate Blogosphere

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Technorati’s Dave Sifry takes a brief look at the state of the corporate blogosphere, which he defines as ‘people who blog in an official or semi-official capacity at a company, or are so affiliated with the company where they work that even though they are not officially spokespeople for the company, they are clearly affiliated’.

That’s a pretty broad definition of ‘corporate’ but one I’ll accept for now if only because to narrow down the definition might result in a single figure blog count. As it is, Technorati only identifies around 5000 blogs, which is only 0.1 of a percent of the blogs that the site tracks.

Although Sifry explains his criteria for judging what is or isn’t a corporate blog, he doesn’t say how he identified which blogs are corporate and which are not. It must be tricky for a spider to differentiate between a corporate blog and any other sort of blog, so I’d be interested to know how he performed the count.

Unsurprisingly, the main companies using blogs externally are tech companies like Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Macromedia. Sifry also groups together ‘media sites’ and ‘blogging companies’ which, between them, account for a sizeable slice of the pie.

Again, I’d love to see more detail on this. How many of these blogs are official? How many unofficial? How do the media sites and blogging companies slices break down? How many official blogs are marketing a specific product or service? How many are simply about improving presence?

As it is, Sifry’s report barely scratches the surface in terms of providing meaningful information about the use of blogs in business. The obvious point to make is that it only discusses external blogs. All the dark blogs - the internal blogs that are hidden away on intranets - remain uncounted and unmeasured, yet these blogs are the ones that are the most important for most blog-using companies. They are the ones that are currently providing the value.

Despite this, Sifry’s conclusion is right - blogs are slowly being accepted as being a useful business tool, and we are very much at the beginning of this process. We do, however, need to find better information than this in order to be able to convert new clients to the Way of the Blog.

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3 Responses to “State of the Corporate Blogosphere”

  1. Hans Henrik Says:

    Hi Suw

    How do you define a Corporate Blog? It’s not about us as a blogging community is it? As I see it it’s more about convincing companies to use weblogs as part of there overall business processes - not only Communications, Marketing and PR, but also R&D and HR – or what?

    Is there any examples besides HP, Xerox and Microsoft doing so? Any numbers for that? Any examples connecting corporate strategy with corporate blogging?

    How many bloggers from the so called corporate blogging community is in fact in a mission from management. How many is in fact skunkworkers – just doing what the are obliged to do?

    Is there any evidence that companies at their last boardmeeting in fact decided that their R&D department now should be outsourced to a network of best of breed independent engineers, loosly connected via a weblog.

    Please tell me :-)
    NB.
    Im Writing a Master Thesis about Pesonal/social networks as a Catalyst for Radical Innovation - Im trying to make a link between personal weblog’s to corporate weblog resulting in Radical Innovation. Companies tends to implement horizontal R&D departmens where corporate weblog could be a channel.

    Who knows? Let’s see :-)
    Best Regards
    Hans Henrik H. Heming

  2. Suw Charman Says:

    Well, quick and dirty answer:

    Corporate blogs are, in my view, any blog used officially for any business reason by any business or organisation. This means the blog has to be sanctioned by the business, not just be by one of their employees. There are a bunch of edge cases where it could go either way - corporate or personal - but I think you’d have that with any definition of ‘corporate blog’.

    Yes, you’re right - blogs have a lot of uses, not just external comms, but project management, facilitation, community/team building, r&d and internal comms, amongst others. Blogs as a tool are so spectacularly flexible, you are limited really only by your imagination.

    There are some companies which are well known for using blogs as tools internally (and sometimes externally), including Google, Disney, the BBC, and sections of the NHS (National Health Service). As for numbers and data about corporate strategy? Well, that sort of information is harder to come by, and I certainly don’t have it.

    I agree that answers to your other questions would be very interesting, but on the whole, reliable data about corporate blog use is not available. In fact, reliable data about any blogs at all is hard to come by because not enough people are doing quantative studies or analyses.

    Good luck with your thesis!

  3. Hans Henrik Says:

    Hi Suw

    Thank you very much for your insights – I’ll follow the conversations on the topic – Maybe I expect to much when saying - ”Please keep me posted”!
    :-)
    Best Regards