The Inside Edge
My experience of blogging is that most blog readers are bloggers themselves and that unlike the traditional print media where a small number of writers push content out to the many, the blogging world is an interactive one in which anyone can be involved in the dicussion by creating their own content and discussing and commenting on content created by others.
And that is why many brands are so frightened of social media – on their websites they can close and moderate comments in an effort to control what is said about them and their policy dictates whether this ranges from the massaging of messages or a full on communist-state-ministry-of-information style policy.
However, modern social media communication mediums like twitter and facebook make it very hard to control what is being said about your brand and many corporates retain social media gurus to monitor, massage and respond to comments about a brand. Indeed a social media insider that I met recently said that she felt many PR firms were still struggling to grasp this new media marcomms opportunity.
So if you have your own property blog, what is your policy on moderating comments? I cut out any references to ‘blue, diamond-shaped performance enhancing drugs’ or adult related content as well as blatant spam, but I don’t mind link dropping where the writer has made an effort to read my article and contribute to the discussion. But what about where the views of the commenter clash with not only the views of the author but but the message being promoted by the brand in question?
Two examples I have come into contact with recently are my comments on two property blogs. Firstly the excellent Housing Dabble blog written by Ben Harris in a post where he was promoting socail media functionality for PropertyADD estate agency software. I commented that were I an estate agent I wouldn’t bother with social media but would use my efforts/ budget to improve the core business – i.e. customer service, local reputation, finding buyers and sellers, local networking. My caveat to this would be that this approach would depend on location and scale – i.e. a small 1 branch independant in Truro is less likely to benefit from twitter as a national agency with business in the major cities.
Although diagreeing with my views, Ben published the comments immediately and went on to discuss the subject, putting forward his own views and asserting that he ‘know(s) of a number of agents that are(using social media) and seeing great results from their efforts in comparison to other activity they were doing.’
My second example is on another property blog where, in response to an article written by Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive, National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), I commented that the 1808 Coalition was a self-interested lobby group…using FTBs as a sympathy issue to further their cause of driving up prices and transaction volumes in the property market and set out my reasons for my view. Two days later my comments have yet to be approved and I await with interest to see if they will as they are clearly in conflict with the intention of the article – namely engendering support for the 1808 lobby group.
So everyone has a differing policy towards interation with their content and management of their brand. My personal opinion is that the evolving participatory nature of media is good for the consumer as we have more information, more views to consider and less ‘managed messages’ to decipher when making decisions or looking for information about a brand or product. I for one now judge a blog or media source online not just by the quality of the research and writing, but by the engagement of the readers in the form of comments, discussion and social bookmarks and ‘retweets’.
Looking forward to your views and comments…