I must admit that Scobel and Israel’s, Naked Conversations, is not a book I would pick up off the shelf. However, it turns out it has made me a believer, so to speak. I never realized the effect blogs can have on a company. And the book has made me acutely aware of the necessity to monitor what is being said about a company on the internet. For instance, buzzmachine’s less than flattering remarks regarding the New York Times and their coverage of McCain investigation could have a dramatic effect. The coverage could possibly draw in more readers (lest we forget bad press is still press) or people may be less inclined to turn to the New York Times for their election news. Either way, it would benefit the New York Times to respond to allegations of improper coverage of a newsworthy story.
I do have a few concerns to raise with Scobel and Isreal. Many of their claims make it seem that blogs make or break a company. I really do not see this happening even with the examples in the book. Kryptonite is still an operating company. The issue with their locks, to my knowledge, has not been publicly refuted or responded to, but they are still up and running. Yes, the blogosphere did contribute to a major product recall, but it did not close down the company. I agree with the authors that Kryptonite should have openly responded to the bloggers and to their customers.
Naked Conversations has opened my eyes to the effect of the blogger perspective. Many articles are talking about the 19% stake a few hedge funds now hold in the New York Times. To many readers that 19% may seem like quite a large share. However, Gawker put it in perspective by saying the cost of those shares is equal to about three new yachts for the owner. So, to the average man, that 19% investment may seem large, but to Larry Ellison, not so much.
On a side note, every blogger needs to read the section on do’s and don’ts. Do not bother blogging if you know it is not interesting, and unless you truly are an authority on a certain topic, do not pretend to be one (bloggers are brutal if you do not know what you are talking about).
One issue that came up in our class discussion is that many people do not blog and do not read blogs. There seems to be a generational divide between bloggers and non-bloggers. Based on this idea, there is an outstanding question that Scobel and Israel do not answer. Are all of these executives’ blogs reaching a large consumer base or just a certain demographic? This does not take away from the effect the younger demographic can have on a company by blogging negatively, but it does make you wonder who is actually reading those negative blogs.
Nick Denton of Gawker said “Everyone has this illusion that Web logs have taken the world by storm, but Web logs have probably only reached 10 percent of the Internet population. Our goal is to reach the remainder.” Obviously, the number of blog readers has increased since 2004, but by how much? Are people really reading blogs? Or, are people hearing about things from blogs on their nightly news or Yahoo homepage? Any thoughts?