My blog: The End of the Road or a Change of Lanes?

In three days, it will be the two year anniversary of my first blog post on Experience: The Blog.  Originally intended to be an exploration of experiential marketing strategies, my interest and focus quickly turned to social media and how the growth of the peer-to-peer groundswell creates challenges and opportunities for marketers.  It is apt to recall how my blog started as one thing and became another, because change is in the air again.  I'd like to reflect on that change, put it into context and invite you to join me as I shift my blog publishing to a new address.

A month ago, news broke that Forrester would be altering its blog policies and analysts would shift their industry-related blogging into a new, common platform on Forrester.com.  I posted at the time that I believed aggregating Forrester's thought leadership in one place made sense and that I was eager to continue blogging, sharing news and building my reputation within the new Forrester blog. 

The reaction was swift and emotional.  Hundreds of tweets and blog posts weighed in on the topic; a few supported the new blogging policies, but most did not.  One person tweeted I was "licking the boots of (my) corporate paymasters," and a friend sent heartfelt condolences at the loss of my blog.  I ignored the tweet and assured my friend that I was not progressing through any of the stages of grief (unless bemusement was one of those stages.)

The reaction was interesting on several levels.  First of all, there seemed to be a knee-jerk backlash to the very concept of corporate rules for social media. The idea that corporate policies don't have a place in social media is patently ridiculous and ignores the responsibility companies have to protect against legal, reputation and brand harm.   

Many observers made rather wild assumptions about the intent of the new policy, drawing incorrect conclusions that analysts posting to the new Forrester platform would no longer be free to share their thoughts without constraint.  This is also silly--how could it possibly benefit Forrester to restrain analysis, dialog and thought leadership?  Those are the very things that create value, demand and differentiation for Forrester's services.

Lastly, there were detractors who implied Forrester's actions were designed to undermine analysts' abilities to build their brands and reputation.  I find this accusation lacking for reasons far greater than that I still have my own blog with my own name and my own thoughts.  In fact, I was particularly bothered by this argument because of what it implied:  That my reputation, personal brand and value were inexorably bound to an Internet domain. 

To paraphrase the movie "The Elephant Man," I am not a URL; I am a human being! Wherever I go in life, my experience, knowledge, reputation, abilities, value and personal brand go with me.  "Experience: The Blog" doesn't contain Augie Ray; I contain it.  And later this week when I meet with a Fortune 100 organization to discuss their social media opportunities, it won't be my Twitter feed or domain address they care about but my ability to consider their situation, analyze the research conducted by Forrester, and draw insights and recommendations that drive their business. 

My blog has not come to the end of the road;  it's just changing lanes.  If you subscribed to "Experience: The Blog" I invite you to join me at Augie Ray's Blog for Interactive Marketers (or subscribe to my blog's RSS feed).  I hope to see you at the new URL and (as always) welcome your comments, feedback, criticisms and ideas.

 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Comments

Why we read blogs

I completely agree with your take on this. I don't read your blog posts because they are on "Experience: the Blog"... I read them because you wrote them. I read them because I get a lot out of what YOU write, not where you write it.

I think all to often people are suspicious of "the man" and feel that the second they try to do anything that goes against the current state of things they are doing it out of malice. Change is scary for a lot of people... but if change didn't happen nothing would evolve.

I moved my RSS feed from Experience: the Blog to this one and the only thing that changed was the title of the feed. I am confident that I will still get the same quality of posts at this new address.

Keep on keepin on Augie.
Mike

Mike, thanks for the

Mike, thanks for the feedback. I'm pleased you found the thoughts worthwhile and will still be following me on the new blog. You're right about "the man"; a lot of people seem to have a fire-ready-aim approach toward responding to policies and procedures in social media. (They're probably the same people who used to say "information wants to be free" back in the early days of the Internet!)

Ummm, i dunno Augie....

Sorry, but I'd argue the majority of commenters you mentioned had it right: stopping analysts from maintaining their own blogs is definitely moving in the wrong direction for a service agency like Forrester who should be looking for EVERY excuse and opportunity to move in exactly the other - more open, more transparent, more controversial! - direction.

I get why you didn't want to change jobs so quickly in all, tho, fershur Augie. But it's still lipstick on a pig I'd sadly suggest.

Whatever - i'll keep reading you and keep sounding off on my one man's journey toward making research consultancies like Forrester more honest, real and streetworthy.

Thom, I appreciate the input.

Thom, I appreciate the input. And I'd agree with you if anything about this change was less open, less transparent, or less controversial, but I don't see this as a step in that direction. I have complete control of my Forrester blog; no one edits, reviews or censors it; my name is right there at the top of the blog, so I'm hardly becoming a cog in the machine; and my Forrester blog won't decrease but increase my audience. Still, time will tell. Please keep your eyes peeled, and if you see failing to live up to my own standards for transparency and authenticity, please call me on it!

Change of Lanes

I don't see this as being a big deal. Like you said, Experience: The Blog doesn't own you; you own it. I've frequented your blog and followed your insights on Twitter because of what you have to say, and because I genuinely find you to be one of the most insightful social media experts I know.

Whether those ideas are being expressed in one location or the other -- the ideas are the ideas.

If you are free to state your opinions, who cares where those opinions are housed? It makes sense for a place to aggregate their many experts' voices in one locale. That strengthens the network and showcases the diverse expertise of a business like Forrester.

I can understand the emotional negative reaction -- these types of decisions tend to immediately conjure up the notion that the big business is stifling the individual. I just don't see it in this case. You are Augie Ray, and it doesn't sound like they are changing that!

Thanks Steve! Like you, I

Thanks Steve! Like you, I can understand the emotional reaction; after all, "big business" has a long and rich history of stifling the "individual." This experience has demonstrated to me the need to help business not simply ACT more transparent and authentic but also to make sure people understand it IS more transparent and authentic. In the end, the companies that succeed will be the ones that change their culture and not just their behaviors! I appreciate the dialog here!

Very interesting dynamic

Thanks Augie. Your post came into my inbox last night just as I was mulling over a similar discussion we're having about the future of a stand alone blog that we're considering rolling into our customer community site. People are certainly reluctant to change, but I think if you (and we) continue providing great content, they'll make the switch and forget it was ever an issue in time.

Justin, It's interesting how

Justin, It's interesting how many people and clients have seen the discussion about the Forrester blog change and commented how they're facing the same situation. If you care to share about the challenges and opportunities you're facing with your decision, I'd love to learn more. Feel free to post here or contact me at aray ----at---- forrester.com. Thanks for being part of this conversation!

Thanks

Thanks Augie. I'll email you to give some background.

I wonder if this situation for many companies is because their use of social media has "grown up". We see the value as a tool to communicate with our customers and prospects and industry thought leaders. But now must migrate the tools and content into something more scalable and integrated. To me, that's healthy. Shows companies aren't just kicking tires any more.

Great point. Companies are

Great point. Companies are definitely past the tire-kicking stage of Social Media. They might not yet be buying fleets of cars, but they're definitely behind the wheel. (I like extending an anology to the greatest possible extent!)

All Professional Services firms struggle with the same dilemma

As CMO of an agency, we struggle with the same dilemma that I'm sure was felt at Forrester. On the one hand, as a service company, whose only real product is the intellectual property created by its employees, it is important to aggregate that collective wisdom to demonstrate what the company offers to its clients.

On the other hand, all the research, much of it from Forrester itself, tells us that consumers value content much more when it has the authenticity and credibility that comes from being independent. We increasingly know that corporate blogs do not work because they are perceived as biased and are reduced to being considered “marketing” like any other collateral.

I think it is an appropriate company decision to try to bring all its analysts professional blogs under one roof, but I believe that with that decision goes a very high burden of proof to demonstrate that in no way is Forrester trying to limit the independence of thought of any of its contributors, analysts or commenters.
We will just have to continue read yours and all the other blog contributors and hold you up to a very high standard of intellectual expression and unbiased expertise.

John, that is a great

John, that is a great insight, and you're right--people don't put the same level of trust in corporate blogs as they do the blogs of people they know. Of course, our recent research shows us that corporate blogs are actually trusted MORE than blogs by people the reader does not know (http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/tapping_entire_online_peer_influenc...). Trust is a tricky issue, and you hit the nail on the head: the burden of proof is on Forrester and the analysts to prove these blogs will continue to be place where independent thought thrives. (Of course, the burden of proof is also on the doubters to pay attention and give Forrester a fair and unbiased assessment!) Thanks for the input.