ROI Case for Investment In Community

Awesome, IT Culture
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I’d like to clear up an apparent logical conflict I have made on Vladville about blogging. In past I have told many of you that consider blogging for business honestly is a terrible idea. Meanwhile, I continue to write three different blogs on a weekly basis. That doesn’t add up! No, I’m not misleading you but to understand it you have to expand you concept of value.

Do Not Blog For Business

There are in fact two major reasons why you shouldn’t do it and liability isn’t even in the top ten.

Free advice has no goodwill value. It’s true, I’ve made a lot of money for ExchangeDefender through people that have found out about us through this blog. It generates a tremendous amount of leads and awareness for our products. However, it does not generate sales. I have gotten far more “I appreciate what you do for the community… but we’re gonna go with the other guys anyhow” than I have gotten sales. Not only will it not get you sales but people will actively punish you for it “I love the blog but I don’t like that the CEO is writing it, I’d rather see you on the road”

Everything is offensive. If you’re going to start editing yourself you will only put out trash nobody will want to read. They’ll all agree that it’s valuable, they’ll all sign up for your blog and tell you that they are reading it – but trust me, they aren’t. More people will read soap operas made up at MSP Mentor than useful information – so unless you’re going to cater to your audience why bother? Therein lies the trap because no matter what you write, you will offend someone. For example:

You: Why are all the servers black and beige? What happened to the days of SGI and Sun? I want a server with a blue or purple beazel.

Reader: Screw you, a blue car ran over my dog. I hate the color and I hate you.

So if you’re smart and have a low tolerance for pain and difficult people.. this is a good time to stop reading.

Why You Should Blog For Business

This is going to take a while to explain but stay with me please…

Considering the top two caveats (and also accounting for the issues of liability, putting yourself on public record, having your competitors aware of your weaknesses and opportunities, privacy and compliance issues) there is still a tremendous value in blogging and it goes beyond the “shameless drama for clicks” and “fanboy fodder” that dominates blogging.

fat-goth-760396It builds a fan base. Depending on the industry, this likely won’t do you much good on the romantic front. In all my time writing this blog I have only had one attractive girl my age tell me that she was a fan. I’ve lost the count of dudes that are in love with this blog and me. Merry Christmas Chris Rue. I was gonna write something about how nobody has tattoed themselves with my face yet but now that I’ve mentioned it I’m sure there will be a temp tattoo available at some future event.

Fans are good. Whether they like you or hate you. I’ve met a lot of folks that are genuine fans of Vladville. I’ve also met a lot of fake fans of Vladville. They literally look like they are throwing up as they say “I like your blog” – they choke back, look up to see if the lighting is about to hit them then down to the left to see if there is a good spot to projectile vomit. I imagine a normal person would be offended by such a thing, I however take pride that someone hates the blog so much that they are willing to lie to me to my face at great personal physical discomfort because they are afraid I’ll write something about them (hint: Relax. I don’t write about stupid people, only about stupid actions stupid people make; and if you’re stupid I should be the least of your concerns)

Good fans build connections. This is the ultimate payoff. Building connections with people through any medium gives the target audience a sense of familiarity. It opens them up. It warms them up. It makes them honest and it prompts them to communicate back.

This in turn creates an enormous community and an even bigger, compounded chain of feedback. Think of your Facebook friends. Now your Facebook’s friends friends. Ever see a picture from a third party or a comment? That’s what blogging gives you – deeper visibility through people that are genuine fans of what you do.

As a result, I get an email or a message whenever there is something going on out there that even remotely impacts me. And getting good and bad news ahead of everyone else is so materially precious that it’s in fact so illegal they locked up Martha Friggin Stewart for over a year for doing it!

This is not something you get by having a large company, or by sponsoring tons of shows, or by doing business with a lot of people. As much as folks like to gossip, they tend to do so behind your back. Thanks to Vladville, I get it right between the eyes.

Fans alleviate work issues. That one is kind of self explanatory, as much as blogging is a means of cheap therapy it also creates a sense that what you do is bigger than series of SPAM filters, Exchange arrays and dying hard drives. It illustrates personally how what we do makes it possible for others to do something that truly matters.

deloreancarFinally, it fuels the Delorean. Feedback and commentary is what makes the Delorean go to 88mph and back to the future. Have you noticed how stuff you read here just so happens to eventually become reality? No, it’s not time travel (cause let’s be honest, I’d be playing lottery instead).. it’s the fact that I get real feedback from real people. Free feedback from real people is remarkably much more accurate than the polite feedback from people that are being fake to answer the survey correctly. This blog enables people to not give any consideration for my feelings, whatsoever.

There you have it… If you’re quick and you’re honest and you genuinely like people – good or bad – the activity won’t make you rich but the insight you will gain from it will give you an advantage others do not have. And if that doesn’t make you rich you’re better off picking a religion and playing the lottery for a living because you’re doomed.

So, should you write a blog?

If it’s about the money.. No. Don’t bother wasting your time.

If it’s for the sex.. aim your blog posts at attractive people with low moral standards. Write about pharmaceutical sales or a site about how to get acting roles or how to feel better about plastic surgery “When he say’s no..”

QlPluIf it’s about personal fulfillment for having a shared a thought that will change the world.. First, put the joint down. Second, your very idea that you’re so brilliant to have figured out something nobody else has – and you’re about to post it for free on a blog site that will likely put up Google AdWords for fake Viagra next to it – is so moronic that the level of stupidity in your head and words explaining that stupidity on the monitor in front of you will collide creating a black hole that will completely consume you. Ok, not really but I bet I just made some stoner freak out.

If it’s for personal relief.. Because you downed 6 cans of Diet Mountain Dew after midnight and spent the last two hours hunting for a missing semicolon in a file with 3,000 lines because you started writing the damn thing when you were 20 and had 2 servers and the friggin thing just took off but you copied elseif{} blocks because you didn’t want to deal with the pain of switching to switches? For the love of god don’t do it, get back to work and hire someone else to go through the process of cleaning that nightmare up. You’re really gonna have to trust me on this one.

If it’s for any other reason, and your CPA and managers assured you it won’t get you fired (oh yes, you will), and your IT department won’t lock you away from the site once you offend them (oh yes, you will), and you’re not mortified by a thought of going to an IT conference where 3 of your biggest fans walk into the elevator with you and your mind starts doing the math on the weight safety range of the elevator… then go for it.

If for no other reason, it makes it seem like you’re working. Smile

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