5 Questions For Robert Scoble

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Robert Scoble
Robert Scoble (“wikipedia”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Scoble) is a technical evangelist who works for “Microsoft”:http://www.microsoft.com/ and maintains the popular blog, “Scobleizer”:http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/. He lives in Bothell, Washington, USA.
Although Scoble often promotes Microsoft products like Tablet PCs and Windows Vista, at the same time he criticises his own employer and praises its competitors. He publishes his cell phone number on his blog and urges people to contact him directly with issues, as well as accepting comments on his blog. His new book _Naked Conversations_ takes you to more than 180 companies and shows you how they are using corporate blogs to change their PR, their marketing, and their product development. The book’s blog is at “nakedconversations.com.”:http://www.nakedconversations.com
(Disclosure: “I”:http://www.schafer.com/ am mentioned in passing in a section of the book discussing how my wife, “parenting expert Alyson Schafer”:http://www.alyson.ca/ uses her blog to build her business.)

*One Degree: You and “Shel Israel”:http://seems2shel.typepad.com/itseemstome/ wrote Naked Conversations ( “amazon.com”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/047174719X/imho-20 | “amazon.ca”:http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/047174719X/imho0b-20 ) in a very open way. Can you talk a bit about how you used blogs to _create_ Naked Conversations and how that impacted the final work?*
Yeah, we blogged every step of the book from the first moment of its conception. That quickly attracted attention and got two book publishers to bid for our work. That should be lesson #1. Most authors have to beg to get their work even considered. We didn’t need to do that. Why? Because hundreds of bloggers were linking to us and talking about our blog from the first moments. Even now we’re the #1 Google result for “corporate blog book.”
But, if you stop at just the PR and relationship-building aspects of a blog, you’ll miss the deeper impact (even though they are pretty cool all by themselves). By putting the book up on the blog our readers got involved and improved the book immeasurably. They fixed spelling and factual errors. They augmented our reporting and suggested many of the interviews we ended up performing. Without them the book simply would not have been the same.
*One Degree: Similarly, the buzz on the book seems to be building from the blogosphere out – a successful strategy for a number of books recently – how much of this has been organic and how much is a calculated marketing strategy? I’m thinking in particular of things “like”:http://blog.softtechvc.com/2006/02/naked_conversat.html “having”:http://www.lightbox5.com/movabletype/archives/2006/02/naked_conversat.html “the”:http://blogbusinesssummit.com/2006/01/naked_conversat_1.htm “launch”:http://www.julieleung.com/archives/002081.html “party”:http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/02/18/thank-you-for-coming-to-techcrunch-5/ at noted “Techcrunch”:http://www.techcrunch.com/ blogger “Mike Arrington’s”:http://www.crunchnotes.com/ home instead of a more traditional book launch.*

I’d love to brag that we are brilliant marketers and that we planned every step of this out carefully and thoughtfully. The truth is far scarier than that. [laughs]. When I told Shel we should blog everything about the book he thought I was nuts. Seriously, you should have heard the arguments we had. I still remember driving through an In-N-Out near Oakland on the way home from the airport trying to convince him that that would be a smart thing to do. In the middle of the night I just decided to do it and Shel, thankfully, decided to hop on the train. Or maybe that should be the Cluetrain.
As to doing it at Mike Arrington’s home? That’s mostly cause I’m a cheapskate and couldn’t afford to rent a real venue. Plus, where else are you going to launch something in Silicon Valley nowadays other than at Mike’s house?
Mostly it’s just trying to come up with something different and let’s have a lot of fun in the process.
*One Degree: Marketing is getting more numbers driven all the time as we move to ROI-based marketing spends. I’m constantly asked about “calculating the ROI” and “measuring effectiveness” of corporate blogging. It seems that blogs don’t quite fit into the measurability mantra that marketing is just starting to get up-to-speed on. Do you have any suggestions for measuring the success of corporate blogging initiatives?*
I hate these questions. People who ask them first will never blog well.
What’s the first question to ask? How about: “how can I blog better?” If you have something interesting to say you’ll get traffic. Believe me, your traffic will come. 14 days ago a company named “Foldera”:http://www.foldera.com/ released a new product. How did they do that? “On TechCrunch.”:http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/02/20/foldera-never-organize-your-inbox-again/ Do you realize they’ve already had 400,000 requests for their beta? In 14 days! Just because of blogs. What’s going on here? The word-of-mouth network is far more efficient than it once was.
So, what’s the important metric? Is TechCrunch interested in you?
But, deeper than that, is Google interested in you? If you’re a plumber in Seattle and I search for, say, “plumber in Seattle” will I find you on the first page of results? If not, then you simply don’t exist. Hint: blogging well can help a LOT with that. Why? Well, if you blog well, hundreds of other blogs will link to you, which will push you up the Google result set (and, also Yahoo’s and MSN’s).
For me, I look at: are the people who I think are authoritative in my market having conversations with me? Why not? (Yes, you CAN track that. Just visit “bloglines.com/citations”:http://www.bloglines.com/citations and put your URL in and see if they are linking to you. Or, visit “Technorati.com”:http://www.technorati.com and put your company name in and see if bloggers are talking about you. Do you want people to talk about you? If you’re in business, you should.
So, the real question should be: “how can my business join the conversation?”
*One Degree: At what point, if ever, will having a corporate blog be standard operating procedure for most companies, just as having a web site is now and what happens to companies _without_ blogs at that time?*
Naked Conversations
Well, let’s go back to how search engines like Google and MSN and Yahoo work again. They work on links. Yeah, there’s other stuff too (like putting some details about your business into your title tag, and consistently writing content about the topic you want to be found on. If you’re a plumber in Seattle, that’s what you should be writing about every day, no? Putting cat photos on your Web site won’t help your business (although maybe that’s how you’ll differentiate yourself, so don’t say never).
Which is more likely to get links? A) A site that changes every day? B) A static site?
Of course a site that changes every day will get more links. What’s the best tool to change your Web site every day? A blog tool.
So, yes, I think blogs will be standard for every business.
*One Degree: Does every company need a “Scobleizer” or are there other approaches you’d suggest?*
No. But here’s a little rule I use:
* Worst: A site that doesn’t change.
* Better: A site that changes often.
* Even better: A site that changes often, but has some personality to it.
* Getting hotter: A site with personality, but that’s passionate and authoritative.
* Best: Having everyone in the company that’s passionate and authoritative sharing what they know.
Wouldn’t you like to talk to the guy who built the transmission in that new General Motors car? So, why are businesses keeping that guy from blogging? Doesn’t he know more about the product than anyone else? When you get to the point that nearly everyone inside a company is blogging that’s when you’ll know your company is truly naked. And, watch what happens when your company gets naked! The customers will start caring again and helping the company improve again!

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