Harness the buzz before the buzz damages you
Weblogs, which are doubling in number every five months, are reshaping the ways consumers perceive your company and your products and services.
They can either create a buzz or damage your company's reputation, said a Microsoft executive on Tuesday.
Derek Brown, marketing director Microsoft (Thailand), said online communities such as weblogs, enthusiast websites and discussion groups had the power to change the way consumers formed opinions about you and your products.
"The key questions you should be asking are what are these various communication channels, how do you find them and, most importantly, how do you harness the buzz they create before the buzz gets you?" said Brown in a paper addressed to the American Chamber of Commerce.
This fast-breaking, fast-changing new medium is making rapid growth in Thailand, he said. There are now 990,000 bloggers on the MSN Space alone, triple the number in June
Worldwide, there are more than 30 million weblogs currently tracked by www.technorati.com, 60 times more than three years ago.
The number of new postings on the blogs depend on a given situation. During the tsunami in 2004 the postings grew significantly, for example, but on average there are 50,000 postings every hour.
Despite the huge amount of postings on the blogs, Brown told the chamber that there was currently a company which had developed software to help corporations track negative or positive posting.
"Thus you will know what millions of people are saying about your products
or services, what are the trends and so on."
Brown did not name the software company, though he mentioned that among the firm's clients was the
US Central Intelligence Agency, which tracked billions of e-mails to find
those suspected of terrorist connec-tions.
In Thailand, MSN Space is the largest blog. All of Space's bloggers are users of MSN Messenger's instant messaging. Every day, 1.65 million people log on the Messenger, Brown said.
"There are 52 million messages sent daily, 25 per cent more than SMS," he said.
Companies should find ways to engage with the blogs by which they can track trends in the market, particularly prior to the launch of a new product, he said.
Besides encouraging its own staff to write blogs, Microsoft every year invites thousands of people to attend a conference at its headquarters in Redmond, where they share
their views and feedback with Microsoft experts, including chairman Bill
In following blog trends, Brown said corporations should not "get too caught up in terms and technology", which evolve and overlap over time, but instead "focus on the phenomenon".
Bloggers, whose opinions can spread all over the web within hours and get into the mainstream media, are not usually inspired by monetary rewards, he said.
"There are people who spend hours a week answering people's questions, just to be recognised."
Properly engaged, blogging can become a powerful marketing tool for companies, added Brown.