In June of 06 I took my first step towards understanding business blogging. As a professor at the University of MA in Dartmouth, and Director of the Center for Marketing Research, I felt I needed to be able to answer the frequent question from businesses, “should we have a blog?” My first study sought advice from experienced business bloggers (and others) and I was clearly cautioned by them: Blogs take time, commitment, planning and respect for the values of the blogosphere.

Eric Mattson (a podcaster I met through the first study) and I released a new study this month on the Inc.500 and their use of social media announced in a post by Frank Gilbane. Much has since been written about the major finding: The Inc. 500 is blogging at more than twice the rate of the Fortune 500. Given that the Inc. 500 are selected based of their rate of growth in one year, it says something about moving quickly and the use of social media.

What we thought was even more interesting is that the Inc. 500 were monitoring social media regardless of if they were using any. Eric and I have submitted a paper on this monitoring behavior to the Journal for New Communications Research and will make that link available as soon as it comes out. Basically, we found that some companies may not be directly engaging customers yet, but have figured out the value of listening and watching. When Business Week in June of 05 wrote about ” The Power of Us”. I think this is exactly what they were referring to…voices being heard. It looks like it is actually happening!

I am still very interested in which businesses or organizations choose to engage their constituents, which choose to listen, and which watch all this from the other side of a search engine. Blogs, podcasts, videoblogging, message boards and all the rest allow organizations to relate to consumers in a more meaningful way. It is definitely not business as usual, but it is definitely business as it should be.

Eric and I are planning a new study on higher education and its use of social media to explore another arena. We will make the findings of that study available here in the spring. I have never enjoyed research so much…..

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