My friend and colleague Debbie Weil reports that 49% won’t use blogs in the next year according to Forrester Research. 49% of whom? Of “interactive marketers”, that is, marketing professionals who include the online world in their campaigns and efforts. She’s surprised that the figure is so low, but I look at it differently: I’m surprised that it’s so high, actually.
Debbie says: “I maintain that blogs are really just next-generation Web sites. Every company will have a blog-like (interactive, two-way) component on their home page a couple of years from now. And the word blog may not be used.”
In my eyes, however, there’s a fundamental problem in this prediction…
I’d like to agree with you, Debbie, but I’m afraid that the vision of “everyone having a two-way Web site” is predicated on the assumption that companies actually want to have a dialog with their customers through the Internet, and many don’t.
You can see this with a simple test: go to a random half-dozen of the Fortune 50 sites, see if you can even find a “contact us” link, then send each of them a test query of some sort, perhaps about a product, support terms, or something similarly legitimate.
I predict that you’ll see 0% response in the first 48 hours, possibly 5-10% response within a week, and a few stragglers thereafter. Most companies don’t even pay attention to their own query system, why do you think they’d pay attention to a dialog where the rest of the world can see what their customers are saying about them and their products?
This isn’t to say that I support their myopic, controlling approach to customer and marketplace feedback – quite the opposite, actually. I believe that the companies that aren’t listening are doomed to spend their money on marketing and branding to compensate for their lack of reputation and their inability to be sufficiently nimble to always meet that untapped customer demand.
Let me put that another way: that 49% figure is an opportunity for those companies savvy enough to recognize that adding a blog to their Web site gives them a powerful competitive weapon, a real differentiator, because it gives them the online equivalent of a 24×7 focus group for free. What company wouldn’t want that?
Ah, well, that’s the question, isn’t it.