Friday, October 13, 2006

Transferred Biz Blog Review Posts July 24 - August 12, 2006 Archive

12 August 06 - Pointers from Charlene Li on measuring blog ROI and the impact of user-generated content

In a brief discussion with Charlene Li yesterday morning, I asked her about measuring corporate blog ROI and about the impact of user-generated media/content on business strategy.

On the topic of measuring corporate blog ROI, Charlene suggests that company metrics differ depending on the business purpose but that three main components are involved:

1. Benefit -How beneficial is the blog as a communications channel (marketing/advertising/public relations) whether used by customers or employees?

2. Cost -How much is the technology and time costing?

3. Risk -What risk is associated with the blog and how do youquantify and contain the risk?

When asking Charlene how she sees businesses changing as a result of user-generated media/content, she posed a striking question for businesses to consider:

Are you ready to respond to feedback?

User-generated media/content is customer feedback in the public arena.

Whether businesses choose to harness new technologies or not, the feedback exists. When put that way -- Charlene says -- it gets attention.

Refer to one of Charlene's previous blog posts -- "The Changing Media Business Model":

Charlene's bio will be published on the Profile page shortly.

9 August 06 - Response from GM!

Not so long ago, in one of my posts, I mention asking GM's Bob Lutz a question on his blog via "comments" but the question remains unanswered and still hangs somewhere in the ether out there. Key Question for Business: Are you ready to respond to feedback?

The question: Does GM measure the blog ROI of their GM Fastlane and FYI blogs and if so, how do they go about doing so (in terms of the variables used)?

So I decided to attempt to find the answer by asking the question on GM's Corporate Responsibility Contact Page. Here's the response:


Customer Relationship Specialist: Jennifer Bastian

Dear Fiona Torrance

Thank you for contacting the General Motors Customer Assistance Center regarding your interest in corporate blogs. I appreciate your taking the time to email us regarding this matter.

I recommend that you write to our Public Relations Department at the address below. We apologize, but there is not direct e-mail address for that department.

GM Public Relations100 Renaissance CenterCommunicationsP.O. Box 100Detroit, MI 48265-1000

If you should need to contact us in the future, simply reply to this message or call our General Motors Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-222-1020. Customer Relationship Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

Again, thank you for contacting General Motors


The General Motors Consumer Support Team


Although this does not answer our question, it is the kind of response I've received in the past when using company contact pages. This may take a couple of weeks via snail mail, but I may receive some kind of an answer for you from GM yet!

We are venturing into PR territory's time to setup a new category on my blog.

9 August 06 - The value in visiting blogs

There's so much fun to setting up a blog on a topic you're passionate about and sharing that with those who engage the blogosphere.

But I've discovered that it's just as exciting to expore the blogs of others, join in discussions, and "meet" other people.

Leo Bottary ( introduced me to David Maister's blog ( where I came into contact with someone named Shaula Evans --

Shaula's so helpful in providing me with information that I felt I wanted to share the links she's given me with those who read my blog:

The New PR/Wiki CEO Blog List --

The New PR/Wiki Corporate Blog List --

Babson Women's Business Blog --

David Maister on "Adventures in Modern Marketing" --

Start Cooking --

Thank you, Shaula!

26 July 06 - Leo Bottary — Senior Vice President, Corporate Practice Hill & Knowlton Tampa — offers thoughts on corporate blogs

Fiona -

I posted a comment on Richard Edelman's blog just the other day, where I offered some thoughts on corporate blogs:

Regarding corporate bloggers, I think it's similar in some ways to trying to convince some executives, even today, to participate in television news interviews. Assuming they have something to say, some have figured out that instead of taking a beating on a 90 second news segment, they can fill some of that time delivering their own message and actually communicating even much more than that. They're apprehensive because they don't trust the medium, and many never will. Of course, what it really looks like is they don't trust the viewers (their customers).

Blogging takes it a step further because not only are execs uncertain of the medium, but also they're scared to death about what all the messengers will say. As you well know, the conversation is taking place and will continue take place with or without them. The number of people influenced by those conversations is growing every day.

To add to that, the blogging medium is no different than any other in terms of evaluation criteria - participation should be based on individuals, company culture, business/communications objectives, etc. With rare exception, it's not a question of if you should join the conversation, it's how. For many executives, their interest in blogs tends to pique during times of crisis.

I recommend not waiting until you're in trouble to engage in the conversation.
Link to comment on Richard Edelman's blog:
Leo Bottary's blog:

26 July 06 - More male executive blogger presence

I've been observing corporate blogs for a while now and have noticed that there appears to be a greater male executive blogger presence then female.

Susan Underhill is the only female executive blogger at Hewlett Packard - Of the 32 corporate blogs I studied - - predominantly male executives have setup journals on the web.

Today, I've been searching to find female executives other than Susan Underhill or Charlene Li of Forrester Research - - to be profiled on Biz Blog Review, and what I've discovered is that there aren't that many in the blogosphere.

As a female business student, I value learning from women in key business positions, yet some are less forthcoming with guidance than men in similar positions. Susan Underhill was a tremendous help to me during my Independent Study.

There must be more females in management positions that could have company blogs and contribute through these to employee motivation, research, knowledge management, or marketing of their expertise/business.

Early this year, I evaluated some statistics of business students -- male and female -- using blogs/wikis for learning at USC. From my sample, what I discovered is that females overall use the tool more frequently than males, and as a means of reflection. The blog definitely spurs critical thinking.

An article published in the Wall Street Journal not so long ago (I forget the article title and issue) discussed the lower presence of females in executive positions. Yet certain studies showed that females in the classroom often -- contrary to former Harvard President Summers' view -- outperformed male counterparts in the math and science arena.

It's interesting to watch this presence in the blogosphere and to see if more female executive bloggers are going to emerge. What are the reasons for the lower numbers of executive female bloggers? And how does this impact the blogosphere if at all?

25 July 06 - Dell’s One2One blog - Blog Outreach!


July 2006 marks Dell's official corporate blog launch.

Actually, July 5 to be exact with blog post title: "XPS 700 BYO" where Mary Joseph of the XPS Product Team presents performance features of the 700 BYO in a vlog.

As vlogs are posted and comments stream in, Dell turns less into more saying, "Real People are Here and We're Listening".

Today's post is titled: "Dell Customer Advocates in the Blogosphere" where Dell tells how they "began monitoring blogs to help customers who needed help from Dell support"
Dell says they have people responsible for blog outreach because:

"Finding and supporting customers in the blogosphere is a difficult and risky undertaking. It does, however, allow us to address many ongoing issues head on. And when the process results in resolution of a customer issue, we think it's clearly worth the effort."

Corporate blogs connect real people, create jobs, provide information and sell products/services. They generate criticism/feedback and are used for research. And Archives, such as One2One's, provide the public with an inside view to technology's role in corporate and organizational change showing customer and employee interaction.

24 July 06 - What S has to say on calculating executive blog ROI

S's Profile:

Here is S's take on calculating corporate blog ROI:

Fiona –

Very interesting website…

Have you thought about calculating the ROI on business blogs by focusing on executives who are in the midst of a reputation management issue?

For example, if you could find a CEO who was responding to a product recall or an accounting scandal, he would be actively trying to manage the publicity.

You could measure the number of times his blog gets picked up by the media against any stock price movements.

Anyway…just a thought.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Transferred Biz Blog Review Posts July 1-20, 2006 Archive

20 July 06 - Discussing corporate blogs and changes in technology in Florence, Oregon…

I've just returned back from a week's visit in Florence, Oregon. Aside from enjoying cool weather, kayaking on Wohink Lake, and meeting the gentleman that John Kerry saved, I answered a recurring question: "What work do you do?"

After telling all about my participation in the Cybercamp 2006 for migrant workers' children run at USC during the summer, I explained that I enjoy reviewing corporate blogs. This prompted the next question: "What's a blog?" Answering this question created a wonderful opening to discuss corporate blogs and why they are being used.

A retired college vice president then asked me how I keep up with technology. My response was that I wasn't sure that I do - but I try. And I try by reading what researchers, marketers and advertisers have to say.

The reason is because researchers and marketers/advertisers track how technology is used to reach the consumer or how the consumer uses technology to communicate their needs. Inevitably, they mention the technology with a basic explanation of who produced it and how it's being used.

I'd be interested to know how you keep up to date with changes in technology, and how you see these changes impacting corporate blogs.

20 July 06 - Google links to Seeking Alpha conference call transcripts

Today I received the following email from David Jackson of Seeking Alpha network blog:

Hi Fiona,

Sorry to take so long to get back to you. I tried your page, but couldn't load it. Here's the Seeking Alpha about page:

Also, Google started linking to our conference call transcripts, something which should be very useful for business school students!


Here is the link mentioned on the Google blog:

This is the response I emailed David:

Hi David,

Thank you for this information - I appreciate you taking the time to send me the links.

What I usually do is post the information to my blog (and update the Profile).

When I initially contacted you, I was in the process of moving my blog and setting up the new Website so it is possible that you could not access the site -- sorry about that. It should be accessible now.

I studied investments and "alpha" under Joe Chen at USC during Fall 2005. Joe's website is accessible at if you are interested in reading some of his Working Papers (intriguing!).

Thanks again for you inputs!


13 July 06 - Blog ROI question for Charlene Li of Forrester Research

On July 7, I emailed Charlene Li the following question in response to the June 5 post on her blog --

Hi Charlene,

Eric Kintz of HP recently referred me to your June 5 post "Calculating the ROI of blogs - it's not about the math" because I am posing the question to a number of executives to find out their thoughts/views on the topic.

Here is the link:

My blog used to be located at originally setup for a USC Independent Study on corporate blogs and is now located on a new site in progress:

I agree with you about the subjectivity involved in trying to measure a blog's ROI. The reason I say this is because of the differences in executive blogs -- their objectives, number of posts, comments generated, and harnessing of new technologies to increase or measure traffic.

When I studied 32 corporate blogs, the data I obtained and placed into statistical models appeared 'noisy' and needed transforming -- it was still hard to make specific statements. I was looking at the success of the blog as a business communications tool.

The vast differences in the blogs makes it difficult to come up with that 'template' that one of your commenters /pd is asking for because metrics cannot be used in isolation.

How do you account for the cost that may be incurred from a blog post perceived negatively and build that into the ROI calculation?

You mention: "In my case, I believe that I can associate my blog with increased business and marketing value to Forrester because I write about certain topics only on my blog. If I wasn’t blogging about these topics, then I wouldn’t have had the content, exposure, and influence to interest those companies in becoming Forrester clients."

Determining the impact of your content, exposure, and influence on Forrester clients is tricky to measure. I am interested to know how you would go about this. If you have the time, would you give me your thoughts on this?

I look forward to hearing from you.


Fiona Torrance
USC Marshall School of Business

11 July 06 - Setting up a blog creates a cultural expectation

John Cass, Director of Blogging Strategies for Backbone Media, conducted the Corporate Blogging Survey in 2005 and An Interview with General Motor's Best Customer.

The entry is titled "The GM Blog: Lessons for Customer Blogging Relations" and is found at this link:

Cass sums up that by setting up a blog allowing for comments, customers expect their questions to be answered.

Bob Lutz of GM does not answer every question on the GM Fastlane blog and has stated in a number of posts that he does not have the time to respond to all queries.

The difficulty is that not all customers read every post and know this and some are disappointed when their questions are left unanswered or unaddressed.

Recently, I asked Mr. Lutz a question on his blog about how GM measures blog return on investment (ROI) and I tied the question in with the subject matter of the post. It suprised me to see a single comment "B-O-R-I-N-G" posted and yet my question is still unanswered.

Mr. Cass's survey answers the question to a degree. Being tenacious, I explored the GM Website and discovered the Corporate Responsibility Report Contact page --
gmcorpcit_comment.html. I posted the same question via this page and look forward to see what comes back.

9 July 06 - Rishabh Ratnu introduces me to Starcom MediaVest Group’s Xpanse Asia blog

When starting my original independent study on corporate blogs at, an individual named Rishe would offer some interesting questions and insights on my blog, yet I did not know anything about him.

Today, Rishe introduced me to his company's blog -- Xpanse Asia --located at

The blog is Starcom's Small Town & Rural Solutions initiative -- "We fuel brands through contact innovations based on consumer insights in the Small Town and Rural space across Asia to deliver results that make a difference to the bottom lines of these brands."

Xpanse Asia blog started in February 2006 and contains interesting information about the initiative with pictures of activities and people involved.

What I particularly like is the sense of culture conveyed. The author writes:

"Punjab, the land of gaiety and merrymaking, where festivals are celebrated with much aplomb and fanfare. Being a predominantly agricultural state that prides itself on its fields, hardly surprising, that its most significant festival is Baisakhi, which marks the arrival of the harvesting season."

This blog is worth reading because it shows how such an initiative in rural India is evolving and how effective a blog can be in showing the world what companies, like Starcom, are doing and also the cultural dynamics at play.

6 July 06 - Seeking ROI — What does David Jackson of Seeking Alpha say?

On this mission to discover how companies or "if" companies measure their blog ROI, I contacted David Jackson -- Founder of The Seeking Alpha blog --

Here's David's response:

Hi Fiona,

Sorry about the delay getting back to you.

Seeking Alpha is actuallyan aggregator and filter for stock market blogs, not a single blog.

We have over 150 contributors. So I'll leave it to you to see if youwant to adapt your questions to that!

Your project sounds fun!


Adapting the question, we eagerly await David's response to this one:

Hi David,

Thank you for your feedback!

Do you know if any of your 150 contributors to Seeking Alpha are measuring their blog ROI?

That would be interesting to know.

I would love to post something different about you on my Profile page: -- say an interest you have or something in your line of work that you would find intriguing to research further.

If you have the time to email me back that would be great.

Enjoy your day!

5 July 06 - Eric Kintz — HP’s VP of Global Marketing Strategy & Excellence — on measuring executive blog ROI

Here's Eric Kintz's response to our question:


Thanks for pinging me. The ROI of corporate blogs is a critical question that generates a lot of interest in Fortune 100 companies. Can blogging be justified by the additional sales it generates?

I agree with Charlene Li ( that it is difficult, possibly dangerous, to attach a number to blogging ROI because blogging is all about the relationship and the dialogue with your community.

In her words, “It’s that investment in the relationship that turns intangible, unquantifiable blogs into hard metrics”. We track traffic, links to our blogs as well as links on “influential blogs”, but these are proxies for the quality of the relationship.

I would be very interested in your findings


5 July 06 - How Does Hewlett Packard Measure Executive Blog ROI?

Recently, I asked Mr. Eric Kintz -- VP of Global Marketing Strategy & Excellence for HP -- the following question on his blog: "The Marketing Excellence blog by Eric Kintz":

Hello Mr. Kintz,

I've noticed Mr. Tankus is no longer blogging for HP and his blog was one that I used in an Independent Study at USC --

Would you mind being interviewed and profiled on my new site --
My new blog is located at

I am particularly interested in how companies calculate blog ROI and how the metrics differ from traditional calculations for say PR/marketing campaigns. How does HP calculate executive blog ROI?

I look forward to your response.

Fiona Torrance
USC Marshall School of Business

We look forward to Mr. Kintz's response to this question!

4 July 06 - How Does GM Measure Blog ROI?

Yesterday I asked Bob Lutz a question on his GM Fastlane blog about the metric system GM uses to measure return on investment (ROI) generated by the blog and what variables they focus on. We look forward to his response.

Measuring the ROI generated by a blog is a fairly new field, even though methods of calculating ROI from marketing and PR campaigns long exists.

What I am interested in discovering is how the method of measuring ROI for blogs differs from measuring any other PR mechanism.

A report written by Heidi Cohen on July 7, 2005 titled "Corporate Blogs: Measure their value!", states that, "To date, ROI hasn't been applied to blogs."

Cohen suggests refering to how other marketing components within your company are valued (how you calculate their metrics) and to apply a similar method to valuing your business blog.

Other practical approaches include:

Media placements
Direct revenues or traffic
Improved search rankings
Brand effect
Increased buzz
Promotion generation

In collating relevant costs, include direct cost factors involved in creation and operation of the blog and soft/shared costs such as executive blogging time and corporate communications.

Cohen offers the following method for calculation of blog ROI -- Combine the revenue and investment components to yield an ROI calculation as follows:

ROI = [annual profit (loss)]/investment costs
Where profit (loss) = dollar value of success metrics - fixed costs - variable cost
With fixed costs = relevant ongoing marketing and overhead associated with blog
With variable costs = costs associated with product sold
With investment costs = one-time costs to launch the blog

With the growth in corporate blogs and blogs receiving financing from venture capitalists, such as Rafat Ali's blog and blog, their ROI should be measured to record blog value and impact.

Knowing blog ROI is important because it can help managers make strategic business decisions.

Heidi Cohen's report is available at:

Monday, October 09, 2006

Biz Blog Review Moved Back To Blogger!

After moving my blog - Biz Blog Review - from ( to a WordPress application (, I've decided to return to using (this site) for these two main reasons:

1. Blogger is "WYSIWYG" - What You See Is What You Get
Posts take less time because the application is easy to use. In contrast, WordPress takes more time because the application isn't as easy to use.

Although I support open source and enjoy the challenge of learning WordPress, I've not got enough time (busy college workload in my last semester!) to download new versions of the application and to post.

2. The simplicity of Blogger allows me to focus on content and rather than the blog application software (I've got side-tracked!).

3. Blogger's community of techi helpers are so supportive! They email and give feedback when you're in need of guidance with your blog. I expressed a lot of frustration initially when I setup Biz Blog Review on because of my own lack of technical experience but the Blogger people were so helpful.


Since WordPress 2.0.3+ eliminated the referrer check in their core files and my posts were blocked, I haven't blogged on my own blog.

Recently, Professor Kathi Berens at USC asked me to discuss my blog experiences with her Writing 340 class and this was when I realized that I really would prefer to return to using

The question I faced is: How do I communicate this "three-point-turn" to the blogging community? Since I just switched to using a new blog site for Biz Blog Review, I thought about how confusing this would be to my audience.

What I explained to Professor Berens's class is that I started Biz Blog Review initially without a real set plan -- the blog just evolved as my independent study unfolded.

When we look at my first post on this blog, we see in January 2006 that it's merely an "Annotated Bibliography" - just parts to a research paper. This develops to blog posts of email communications with executives, and later to blog discussions and interviews with different executives.

Initially, my intent was just to house research information. But I've derived so much enjoyment from interacting with people and sharing insights through the blog that it's gone beyond just a knowledge management system.

In my presentation to Professor Berens's students, I listed the following questions for students to think about before setting up a blog:

1. What will your blog’s purpose be?
2. Do you want people to participate?
3. What will the blog do for you?
4. How frequently can you blog?
5. What should you bear in mind?
6. Should you blog on other blogs?
7. How techi do you want to be?

These questions help us discover our blog topic and how involved we want to be in blogging. They're questions I didn't ask myself before starting Biz Blog Review -- I just dived in! So, it's apt -- this Biz Blog Review.

I'll copy over the blog posts from the other site in the coming weeks to consolidate all blog posts in one place. For easier reading, I may invert and place black text on a white background. This is a work in progress...we're back!