Blogs Can Help Corporations, Pogue Tells Cisco Partners


Pogue readily acknowledged he was not a marketing expert, but instead said he would represent the consumer and critic on Web 2.0 marketing techniques. "What I'm going to do is tell you about the future of Web 2.0 and how you can best employ its virtues." He described Web 2.0 as a new generation for the Web, where people provide the material that changes our culture and our lives. He pointed to Microsoft's $240 million stake in social networking site Facebook -- a site "that generates no revenue," he said -- because "It's just hot!"

From there Pogue switched gears. As the first blogger and videoblogger for The New York Times, Pogue has long been attuned to the world of blogs -- something VARs in the audience may not have much experience with. He said blogs can do wonders for companies who are looking to make a personal impact with an audience. "Material that is not cleansed by any PR person," he said. "That is something to think about."

The beauty of Web 2.0, he said, is that everyone now has a voice. Controlling all those voices, however, is something companies should plan for. "Consider how you'll respond when blogs attack you," he suggested. This advice also extends to allowing comments on blog posts. "I was blogging for an entire year for The New York Times without comments, because people there were terrified," he said.

Pogue also warned against breaking the trust of your audience with false or misleading posts. "You can blow that trust really fast -- don't blow it," he said. His suggestions took a more positive turn when he discussed various ways companies in the tech industry could entertain -- and inform -- their intended audience. "I would like to see some behind the scenes stuff," he said. "We know there are real personalities are in there."

Sponsored post

He lamented the lack of creativity of large corporations exploring the Web 2.0 space. "As long as companies present a face that's only shown through advertising you're never going to exploit the natural curiosity people have about your product," he said. He threw out another idea -- this time the posting of design prototypes that never made the final cut. "Let's see those Cisco routers that didn't work the first time," he joked, throwing up his hands in mock defense. "Ok, ok, bad example."

He urged those in attendance to try different approaches, from employee cubicle videos to customer submissions. "Exploit these channels," he said. "It's a new, less formal channel for your message." He recommended searching blogs to find out about the future of blogs, and suggested using Google Alerts to find out when other entities mention your blog online. "Things never replace things, things splinter, things add on," he said. "These are new channels, but the message remains the same."

A former Broadway conductor, Pogue closed the speech with an entertaining medley of songs from a small electric piano beside him on the stage. He started with a parody of Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence," which began: "Hello voicemail my old friend, I've called for tech support again." Then he launching into Billy Joel's "Piano Man", re-written to laud -- and lampoon -- Steve Jobs' iTunes service. His last musical rendition was a tribute to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), sung to the tune of Village People classic "YMCA." "You've just been sued by the R-I-A-A," he sang, though his hands were too busy pounding the piano to shape the letters using his arms. No one in the audience volunteered an attempt.

In an interview after the speech, Pogue said the biggest pitfall for companies taking a stab at Web 2.0 style marketing is not understanding it before they start. "You gotta get out and look around," he said. "Look at other companies that are blogging, and you'll be able to smell it from a mile away if it's corporate." It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort to employ and moderate endeavors like company blogs, he said, but it's absolutely necessary to keep tabs on it. "You have to moderate the stuff," he said. "The unmoderated experiences have ended in disaster. Transparency and honesty is still critical, however. "We don't moderate for opinion, and that's the way it has to be," he said.

Other Web 2.0 trends, like Facebook or the more corporate-minded LinkedIn, interest him less, he said. "I just did not get it," he said, referring to an article he wrote about LinkedIn. "I get 20 invitations a day from people I don't know," he said. He admits, though that may be a nave way of criticizing the service, which many here at the conference use as a digital Rolodex. "My readers let me know gently what a foolish comment that was," he said with a laugh.