"Hi, my name is Jana and I'm here to talk about Microsoft's Lessons Learned from MSDN Community Blogs and Channel 9'".  

Unfortunately Jana wasn't able to attend the Blog Business Summit and I had to take her place on a panel about Microsoft's lessons learned through community engagement.  I only wish I had a shirt that said "do as I say not as I do" given the recent (thankfully limited) bad press this blog has received. 

One of the perks of speaking is that I was able to attend the conference. So I cleared my calendar Thursday and decided to check it out.  

The Keynote

This was a highlight of the day. Jason brought no slides and simply told some colorful stories about the inspiration, launch, and continued success of Weblogs Inc. Some choice quotes included...

"blogging is the biggest meritocracy that's ever been invented on the Internet"

"If your blog doesn't pop up on rankings it's not because you aren't A-List, it's because your blog sucks"

"Podcasting is going to be big"

“There are no a-list bloggers, just people who have been doing it longer and are more well respected… that’s life. "

He also talked for a while about the "sanctity of the post". Let people sponsor you, but don't let them buy you would probably be another way to put it.  He talked about some of the recent pay for post controversy.  His push was simply for complete transparency. If a company pays you for a post then it should be the first line of that post to explain to your readers. 

Engaging with Bloggers: Working the Blogosphere

Random notes...

How to get bloggers to write about your stuff.

Don’t send press releases to bloggers that won’t care… send only targeted information… know what the bloggers you target write about.  Everyone should have an aggregator, put in 10-20 blogs that you think are audience appropriate for your customers.  Read blogs for a month before deciding to approach any of them.  

Don’t send bloggers an e-mail without a link to what they want to talk about.  Make sure your stuff is linkable.

Meet them in the real world.. go to conferences and seek out the bloggers.  

Be direct and honest when you ask them for what you want.

What homework do you do?

Blog search engines to find out who talks about your and related products.  Subscribe and have your employees subscribe to the targeted feeds you develop.  “ Bloggers are  your intelligent agents.”  Subscribe to the best ones and add them to your search so you always know what they are talking about.

Pew trust analysis of bloggers.  Most bloggers are interested in creative personal expression, sharing practical knowledge and keeping touch with friends and family.  Because it’s word of mouth, if you can connect, it’s a goldmine.

“You don’t get points for shyness in the blog world.”  You don’t meet people without taking a stand. You can’t get people excited and connected with each other without something to rally around.

What about bad publicity?

Go out, work directly with that person, drive their issue too closure.   You need to really focus on having folks that pro-actively go out trying to turn lemons to lemonade. You can’t wait for people to call you anymore in the new world. You have to help the people writing about your product out directly.  

Turn them around, do it publicly in the comments in their blog, ask them to help you make their product better.  With the economics of abundance… 8 bucks a month to post an unlimited number of blog posts. Video, sounds, anything you want.  Need to take advantage of all of those things. Take risks be and be ambitious & fast with your responses.

 

Mixing personal and professional on your blog

The best comment here was from Scoble who proclaimed that unfortunately we all have to be slaves to Google's page rank.  To bump your page rank you need to focus your content. The "main course" of your content should be consistent and on topic and personal content should only be used as seasoning. 

This goes out the window if the goal of your blog IS to be a personal blog for your friends and family... in which case you don't care about page rank. 

Isn’t it contrary to expect people to be authentic but to expect people to be careful?

- Be explicate in your risk taking. Understand you are playing with fire.

- Conflict makes interesting stories.. porn gets traffic, but that won’t keep you employed.

Personal stuff missing from corporate blogs

Despite what scoble said, a corporate blog devoid of personal information (names on posts even) is to be skipped and is likely not flavored correctly. Intel and walmart got some digs here from the panel and Microsoft got some serious kudos.