Thursday, June 09, 2005

UK business Blogging

I recently read Pauls posting over at Tinbasher regarding the state of UK business Blogs and I am unashameably going to reproduce it here, to put in to context my own thoughts.

Do you recall how 2005 was supposed the year of the business blog?
As it stands I’m possibly more inclined to think that it may have been the Chinese year of the business ox or something. 2005 is almost half way through and I’ve yet to see a blog stampede.
But the thing that concerns me is the state of the UK business blogosphere. It really doesn’t exist in any tangible form.
Alex Bellinger got me thinking about this in a little post he did at Ecademy.
He cites
Anita Campbell’s article about 16% of American SMEs planning on utilising a blog in the next couple of years, but can only come up with two UK business blogs: English Cut and The Tinbasher. Stuart Bruce manages to pluck another couple out of the hat, but then we’re struggling. For good measure, I’ll throw Steelstrip World in there too.
Whilst we’re on topic, I’m going to dismiss
English Cut and The Tinbasher out of the equation due to the fact that we’ve had more than our fair share of PR leg-ups. The majority of business blogs aren’t going to receive the same amount of blog-love from certain quarters as we’ve had. It might be the case for a few early adopters, but nobody will bat an eyelid once people are starting them up on a regular basis. If anybody decides on starting them up that is.
I’ve been plugged shamelessly by the likes of
Jackie Danicki and Tom Mahon is the blogging poster boy for Hugh Macleod. I’m not ungrateful by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think the attention received completely skews the overall picture.
Why is there such a reluctance in Blighty? We started the industrial revolution and now have the best broadband coverage in the world. It’s not as if we ‘don’t do’ business or can’t get connected to the internet. Granted, we’ve got shit teeth, but polished pegs aren’t really that important when it comes to blogging.
British folk aren’t quite the same as our American cousins. We tend to be far more reserved, both on a personal and business level. We’re the land of the stiff upper lip that’s reluctant to take too many risks. We’re also a nation of cynics who have a highly developed ‘hypometer’.
From this little generalisation it’s quite apparent how anti-blog we really are. I’m also at a bit of a loss as to how we’re going to rectify this. Especially if we take into account that the two prominent UK blogs are nothing more than good blogging PR - it’s good publicity for us and we’re good publicity for them.
I also think that with great publicity comes great responsibility. If you’re thrown out there for whatever reason then it’s only proper that you should then be willing to help spread the word. I’ve seen articles claiming that it would be hard for other tailors to have the same authority as English Cut. Obviously this is bollocks. The best person to get other tailors to blog is another tailor. My finest moment was when Steelstrip World started up and claimed The Tinbasher was a ‘revelation’ to him and one of the inspirations behind him starting a blog. Now he’s an authority. It comes with the territory. I also get quite a few of his dregs.
Business blogs need to create niches within their own industry and they also need to support one another on a wider level. Being the first doesn’t automatically make you the best and it certainly shouldn’t make you the last. Blogging is much more about specific business ethics than it is about getting ahead of the competiton even if the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
It’s up to us actually doing the business blogging to make and state our own case rather than have others do it for us. We know what works and we’re the true pioneers whether we like it or not. I think we get blinded by the attention at times - blog rabbits in the blog headlights. We’re the ones who are really doing the driving. Let’s not get sidetracked by gormless media asking stupid questions and hapless consultants wanting to claim us as their own.
Who’s with me?

Well being new to this “blogging” malarkey (thanks to Tinbasher), I was unaware that this year was supposed to be the year of the business Blog, but I have a few thoughts on the subject.

Firstly a general observation about the internet, and all things computer-ish really, is that few people I know over the age of forty know anything about the internet other than how to use Google, check for cheap flights, look for porn, order from Amazon or check out friends re-united. It is unfortunate that there is not a wider understanding of what a powerful research instrument the web provides. As many “leaders” of business are forty plus, I think there is a general lack of awareness of the web as both a research tool and a promotional media.

Most companies seem to feel that they must have a website, they are not sure why, but they “sort off” know that they should have one. As most traditional websites are “static” they get one designed often as cheaply as possible and then leave it sat there somewhere on the net. Very few even know its purpose, let alone design it to fulfil a role, or promote it so that it can achieve that role. They can say “Yea sure we have a website, you know”, and that makes them feel up to speed, and modern. At its core the average business website is a brochure, and usually not a very good one.

Now we introduce the weblog, which by its’ nature is dynamic, and offers infinitely more potential to reach markets, disseminate information and inter-act with communities and marketplaces than any website and companies have to start thinking! Since few of them have even got to grips with a static site, the concept of the weblog can be hard to appreciate. Also many smaller companies have no in-house web programming capability, the original website was outsourced and remains in its original state forever. Whilst the skills required to update static sites or produce a weblog are not too demanding, they are still seen as a “black art” to many, and beyond their abilities. This is not as true of young people, but as many of these are naturally interested in music, gaming or “themselves”, there is a proliferation of weblogs on these subjects (the online diaries being an example of self-interest).

I concur wholeheartedly with your observations about the British being reserved and reluctant to self publicise, I referred to that recently at Steelstrip World, referring to our inability as a country to let the world know what a great engineering nation we are.

Unfortunately at the moment, the majority of people who to read weblogs are people who write them, (in the UK I mean), but that should not stop us developing the media, as I do believe when belatedly the Brits embrace the media, the blog will begin to fulfil it’s potential.

2 comments:

Andrew M Kotas said...

Given that this is the year of the business blog, we have placed a link to you on our site (see Steel Blogs). We hope you will find this useful.

Kind regards

Andrew M Kotas
www.steelonthenet.com

Steve said...

Thank you Andrew, I have added a link to steel on the net to my blog. I visit the site frequently and it is listed in several sections at http://www.steelstrip.co.uk