Friday, February 18, 2005

Online Assignment

This is an assignment for the class I'm teaching this semester. If you're not one of my students, you are still of course very free to read this post, to comment on it, to link to it from your own blog, etc. If you want to see the syllabus, here's the pdf.

This is one of the things I'm offering as an online assignment in place of class on Feb 25, which is the Friday before spring break. There will be other online options: students, see Blackboard; others, you can't. You can submit the assignment either as a comment to this blog post, or on the appropriate discussion thread on Blackboard.

The assignment is to read recent entries from two "business blogs," and then to write about them. I provide two lists, one of suggested blogs, and one of suggested discussion questions. You are free to find and write about blogs not on the blog list, or to address questions not on the question list.

Here's the list of firms and blogs:
Here's the list of questions:
  • What do the blogs you read have in common with each other?
  • How are they different from each other?
  • Who is writing the blogs?
  • What are they trying to achieve?
  • Are they succeeding?
  • What are your more general thoughts on blogging as a business tool? In particular, are there things for which a blog is better than alternatives such as a regular web site or an email newsletter?
There's an enormous amount of material on blogging and business. Some of it's in this very blog; for example, this earlier post points you to a definition of the word blog. Other posts here send you to other blogs, some of which are very good. Here's yet another link to another blog and, in particular, to a post identifying six types of business blog.

I look forward to seeing comments, here or on Blackboard. My thanks to Todd Amicon, my graduate assistant, for providing most of the links I've used here.


Blogger Andrew said...

I've changed the way comments work for this post (and for the blog as a whole). If you had trouble earlier, please try again. Thanks!

1:32 PM  
Anonymous paul walsh said...

I have only very recently heard of blogging, and I immediately think of livejournal. Everything from the set up to the way you respond is the same, this one just seems to have been caught by the mass media. The fact that it is receiving the attention it is, I think is a little bit ridiculous, it does not seem like anything new or revolutionary and if it does change the way anything in the business world works it is only because someone took the time to pay attention this time rather then because blogging is so new and innovative.

I have read several blogs from “consumers” posting about products and/or companies. I place consumers in quotes, because you have no clue who these people are. There is no merit behind what they are saying. Opinions and thoughts on these blogs could easily be laced with other intent, such as a marketer trying to get people excited about a new product, and using a fake testimonial to do that. I’m not saying that are completely useless, I actually think that can be very useful, but so can Livejournal.

The difference I do notice is that the people here seem to be much more in depth then on livejournal and other places like that. So therefore is entirely possible to use blogging as a way of making people aware of new things and providing solid evidence to support that, but there is always that question of who is giving you this information.

5:21 PM  
Blogger John Pancare said...

To be quite honest I only heard the term blog a couple of months ago, but hadn't actually checked them out until given this assignment. I would have to agree with Paul, though, in that blogs seem very similar to a standard message board format. There is topic and then there are responses from anyone who wishes to post a thread.

I read the StonyField Farms and Ford blogs. Both were different from each other, but aimed to deliver the same kinds of information to the readers. Being that both websites produce consumer durables many of the threads were from their consumers; many were from people who worked for the companies; and still many were from outsiders simply wishing to post a thread. There was a major difference, though. It almost seemed as if Ford was trying to promote the new Mustang through it's blog, whereas StonyField Farms was trying to create more interaction between their customers and the product itself. For example, offering health tips, showing where the dairy was from, etc.

As I said about StonyField's blog, I think these companies are trying to create more interaction with their customers. From a business stand point of view I think it's a great marketing ploy. It makes the customer feel as if their voice is truly being heard. The days of email newsletters are coming to an end. People no longer want things sent to them on a regular basis, but would rather log into a blog and see what other people are talking about.

I think that in the future blogs will continue to gain a present in the online community and will be used more and more by regular people, such as myself, who just learned what blogs are all about.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous David G. Valencia said...

I’ve heard of blogging ever since I started really getting into the internet 5 years ago. I used livejournal, while other people were using blogs. Its pretty much the same format, and it looks pretty much the same as far as the format. I do find it funny though that this is catching on now, considering its been around for a while now and that there’s plenty of other sites that are similar to it. As far as changing the business world, I don’t really think it’s going to make a big impact. If it’s going to tell investors or potential investors information about what the companies really doing then I see it as a valuable tool.
I looked through some of the postings about the products and the companies themselves and really didn’t feel like what was posted was valuable. I agree with Paul though, in the fact that the people posting on these blogs have no real merit. I’ve been to other sites similar to this and people post up based on one experience and that doesn’t really tell me anything about a company or a companies products. Also coming from a marketing stand point, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the positive comments being posted are from the company themselves posing as people on the outside looking in.
What I notice though about the blog, which was brought up to me by reading some of other comments posted, is that the people posting on blog are a lot more defined and more detailed on what they’re saying. I think these will be good for posting hype or information about new products coming out. Forums and chat rooms do this anyways, so why keep the consumers waiting.
I personally don’t see myself as being a blog person, simply because I hate reading through the stupid comments people make all day, who think they know, but really don’t. In the end, all it becomes is a stupid shoving match as to who really knows.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

This turned out to be the most popular of the three online assignments I offered in place of the class on the Friday before spring break. 19 students opted for this assignment (as opposed to the one about strategic change or the one about the digital camera industry).
I am surprised how few of those 19 students chose to post their comments on blogging here as a comment on the post in which I defined the assignment. Most of the students chose to post their comments in the more private confines of the Blackboard web site we have for each class here.
For the record, the most popular blogs to write about were Ford and Boeing, with Stonyfield Farms and Google also drawing some comments.

1:02 PM  
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2:24 PM  

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