Woolly Thinking Two

November 3, 2005 11:22 PM

Once again via James, I found Naked Conversations, How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, -- a book by Shel Israel & Robert Scoble, and came across the post Walmart's War Room.

The New York Times has an article on Walmart's new war room that works just like the ones we see in movies with the joint chiefs gathered around with all the president's honchos. What are they preparing to battle? The fact that most everyone hates them.

Personally, if they had asked me, I would have advised them to just start a blog.

Passages like this make me want to run away from my computer and never blog again, just so I can avoid guilt by association.

My brother and his wife are both print journalists. This is a useful source of humility for me, because whenever I think my mildly well-read blog may mean something, I remember that either of them probably have more people read a single one of their articles than visit my website in a year.

Why would starting a blog help Walmart? Well, the conventional blogging wisdom is that they'd be entering into a conversation. A conversation with whom? Well, the relatively small number of people who pay attention to blogs. In some technical circles this is an important demographic, but it's not like the "thought leaders" of the web hold much sway over Walmart's core market.

And it's not like starting a blog suddenly makes a closed company open. Even companies that own popular blogging services can run blogs that are little more than deceptively chatty press-releases. Here's the secret. Open companies will nurture blogging, but you can't make it work the other way.

The inhabitants of Walmart's war room really have a simple choice: they can genuinely attempt to change the culture of their company, and through that change public opinion, or they can rely on PR and economics to get them through as it has so far. Frankly, blogging could be a part of either strategy. But it probably won't be. Ask them again when blogging has become socially acceptable.

Previously: Woolly Thinking

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