Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Hmmm. Maybe. Maybe so.

Lucy's mama Miss Janis noticed a link on Doc Reynold's site to this article in the Guardian (UK), noting that some of the larger corporations are now deciding it's in their interest to track word-of-mouth about their products on various blog sites. Miss Janis says that maybe Toyota is watching, too...

They were once seen as the preserve of the geek, but nowadays personal opinion and diary pages - weblogs or "blogs" - are so powerful that huge corporations are taking an interest.

The sites that started as observational home pages for enthusiasts have become so powerful that they are starting a new industry of blog monitoring in which media companies scour the net to advise brands on how their name is being talked about online, away from the traditional newspaper and broadcast media sites.

The thinking behind this emerging service industry is simple. While there were only 130,000 sites four years ago, today there are about 10m. These web pages can make or break a company's reputation because they provide links to one another and allow people to comment on postings. [...]

Olympus, for example, has devised a new marketing strategy to embrace the medium. Whenever a new camera is approaching its launch, details are passed on to prominent blogs, a spokesman reveals, because the sites are crucial to getting interest ahead of the launch as well as getting early feedback on what the public thinks of the new model.

That is the feeling at Ford, which has recently started to use a blogsearching service because, as its executive director of public affairs, Tim Holmes, reveals, the manufacturer realised that no modern brand can afford not to listen to what people are saying about it online.

"Like most big companies, we monitor the press, but the problem with that is it's always retrospective, everything's a few weeks old," he says. "The real value of searching the net, including blogs, is that you get a live picture of what people are thinking about certain issues. It means that you can predict if there is going to be an issue that's going to grow and become something you need to respond to before it gets to the mainstream press." [...]

Wonder if Ford would be willing to take a page from Canon and slip me a sample of the new GT for evaluation?

In any event, I would think that every company who makes a living by selling things in a competitive marketplace would do everything possible to see that problems are headed off before they become a liability. I don't know exactly how powerful blogs actually are in the greater scheme of things, though--I would think traditional consumer-type publications like Consumer Report or various enthusiasts publications would be more influential overall. But perception is everything, I suppose, and to ignore some timely blogger advice out of hand is probably not a good strategy. As the guy from Ford rightly points out, the publishing cycle of some of the paper press is measured with a calendar, rather than a stopwatch, and by the time some of the problems begin to surface, it might be too late to do effective damage control.

Then again, I'm just a marsupial.

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