Passion et authenticité [fr]

[en] I write a weekly column for Les Quotidiennes, which I republish here on CTTS for safekeeping.

Chroniques du monde connecté: cet article a été initialement publié dans Les Quotidiennes (voir l’original).

A l’heure où blogs et médias sociaux se commercialisent et se professionnalisent de plus en plus (et parfois à outrance), il n’est pas inutile de rappeler l’importance capitale de deux ingrédients qui tendent à passer au deuxième plan: la passion et l’authenticité.

Dans un monde sans public captif (essayez donc de forcer quelqu’un à lire votre blog ou à vous suivre sur Twitter), la passion et l’authenticité restent les arguments les plus persuasifs pour se faire sa place dans les médias sociaux.

Certes, un minimum de compétence côté communication (écrite surtout) et relations humaines, ça aide. Mais sans passion, sans authenticité, votre présence en ligne bien calculée ne sera qu’un canal de plus à travers lequel fourguer l’éternel blabla marketing et promotionnel bien lisse et fatigué qui ne nous émeut plus depuis longtemps.

Si c’est ça que vous voulez, allez-y donc, mais soyez conscients que vous passez ainsi à côté de ce qui fait la spécificité des médias sociaux. Et lorsque votre “stratégie médias sociaux” aura fait chou blanc, blâmez vos oeillères plutôt que Facebook, les blogs, ou bien Twitter.

La passion et l’authenticité, cela ne s’achète pas, et cela ne se fabrique pas. C’est là, où ça n’est pas là.

On les reconnaît au son de leur voix, et elles nous attirent irrésistiblement.

Please Don't Be Rude, coComment. I Loved You. [en]

[fr] J'étais une inconditionnelle de la première heure de coComment. Je les ai même eus comme clients. Aujourd'hui j'ai le coeur lourd, car après le désastre de la version 2.0 "beta", le redesign du site qui le laisse plus confus qu'avant, les fils RSS qui timent out, le blog sans âme et les pubs qui clignotent, je me retrouve avec de grosses bannières autopromotionnelles dans mon tumblelog, dans lequel j'ai intégré le flux RSS de mes commentaires.

Just a little earlier this evening, my heart sank. It sank because of this:

Steph's Tumblr - rude cocomment

That is a screenshot of my Tumblr. And what coComment is doing here — basically, inserting a huge self-promotional banner in their RSS feed — is really rude.

I’m really sad, because I used to love coComment. I was involved (not much, but still) early on and was a first-hour fan. They were even my client for over six months, during which I acted as a community manager, gave feedback on features to the team, and wrote a whole bunch of blog posts. This ended, sadly, when coComment finally incorporated, because we couldn’t reach an agreement as to the terms of my engagement.

Inserting content in the RSS feeds is only the latest in a series of disappointments I’ve had with the service. I used to have a sidebar widget to show the last comments I’d made all over the place on my blog, but I removed it at some point — I can’t remember when — because it had stopped working. I tried adding it again, but for some reason WordPress can’t find the feed. It seemed very slow when I tried to access it directly, so maybe it’s timing out — and I think I recall that is what made me remove it in the first place.

I’m sad also to see blinking ads on the coComment site, confusing navigation, pages with click here links, and a blog which has no soul, filled with post after post of press-release-like “we won this contest”, “we’re sponsoring this event”, “version xyz released”, “we were here too” — all too often on behalf of a mostly faceless “coComment Team”. CoComment used to have something going, but to me it now seems like an exciting promise that lost its way somewhere along the line.

Last August, the version 2.0 beta disaster made me cringe with embarrassment for my former love (who on earth takes all their users back to beta when 1.0 was stable?) and left many blogs paralyzed, including my own. I started writing a blog post, at the time, which I never published, as other things got in the way. Here’s what I’d written:

I reinstalled the extension yesterday (I’d removed it a few months ago because I suspected it might be involved in a lot of browser hang-ups) but had to uninstall it a couple of hours later:

  • too many non-comment textareas get the coco-bar
  • blacklisting seems broken
  • pop-up requesting info confirmation for website blocking form submission of non-comment forms, even though coco-bar was removed AND extension was deactivated for the page.

It would be nice to be able to read some clear and detailed information about these issues and their resolution on the blog, so that I know when it’s worth trying the extension again.

Also, a major issue is that when the coComment server isn’t responding, people cannot leave comments on integrated/enhanced blogs (like this one, or my personal blog). I had to remove coComment integration from my blog so that coComment downtime doesn’t prevent my readers from leaving comments.

Update: in case this wasn’t clear first time around, these problems have since then been solved and coComment apologized for the mess. It doesn’t erase the pain, though.

So, coComment — and Matt — are you listening?

You’re in the process of alienating somebody who was one of your most passionate users — if you haven’t lost me already. I cared. I forgave. I waited. I hoped. But right now, I don’t have the impression you care much about me. I’ve seen excuses, I’ve even seen justifications, and now I see large ugly banners in my Tumblr. What happened to you?

You’ll have understood, I hope, that this is not just about me. This is about the people who use your service. The service you provide is for us, right?

Thinking About The Next Going Far Events [en]

[fr] Alors que je commence à penser aux conférences que j'organiserai après Going Solo, je me retrouve saisie par l'angoisse de la transparence. Même si je prêche l'authenticité et la transparence à mes clients, cela ne m'empêche pas d'être moi aussi sujette à la crainte d'en dire trop.

Je commence aussi à sentir le besoin de véritablement créer une entreprise. Il y a trop de travail pour moi seule. Je perçois quel devra être le profil de mon/mes associés: bon vendeur (je suis une bonne marketeuse, mais pas très douée pour clore et vendre), bon dans l'opérationnel, et qui ne rechigne pas aux tâches administratives. Il y en a probablement pour plus d'une personne, là. M'enfin, je réfléchis.

There hasn’t been much going on here, I have to admit, as I decided to postpone the actual incorporation of Going Far until Going Solo was off the ground. So, head over there (if that’s not where you’re coming from) to catch up, if necessary.

As Going Solo is taking shape, I’m really awed by how much support and how many positive responses and comments I’ve received, both from old friends and new contacts. It feels good to not be the only person to believe in what I’m doing. I have a great team of advisers, too, which has taken shape over these last months.

As I start thinking about the next events I want to organize, I find myself facing (once more) what I’m going to name “The Angst of Transparency”. Although I’m 100% sold on the idea of being transparent (the Cluetrain kool-aid and 8 years of blogging) I still find myself unsure about how much to say when business is at stake. It’s as if, when it came to myself and my own actions, I didn’t really believe what I was preaching to others. I find myself afraid, just like I sense others are afraid when I tell them transparency is the way to go. How transparent is too transparent?

I have a pretty good idea for what two (maybe three) of the next Going Far events are going to be. I’ve mentioned them in passing to a few people. I also have ideas for developing Going Solo, if the event on May 16th turns out to be the success it seems to be promising to be.

But I’m afraid to start blogging about this, on the one hand for fear of giving too much away and being overtaken (which in my right mind I find stupid), and on the other hand because it will set things in movement, and I’m already aware that there is not enough of me to deal with Going Solo itself — let alone get started on another two projects.

This is where I’m really starting to feel the need to create a company. I need other people on the boat with me. And I’m starting to see what kind of person/people I need to bring on board. I need a good salesperson. I’m good at marketing, but not so much at the actual selling/closing/getting the cash. I need somebody who’s good on the operational front, who actually gets things done, and doesn’t mind dealing with tasks like making sure people have paid, keeping track of what needs to be done when (that bit is project management, actually), and so on.

I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to go about finding that person or those people — but I guess having a clear “profile” in mind and making sure my advisers know what I’m looking for (and mentioning it here) is a good start. This isn’t a job ad, though. I’m far from there.

*Cross-posted from the Going Far blog.*

Marketing expérientiel vs. publireportage [fr]

[en] A post by a French blogger made me realise the fundamental difference between being "paid to blog" (à la PayPerPost, to take the worst cases) and experiential marketing. In EM, publication of the post is a means, not an end. It is a "small" part of the mandate. The mandate itself is using the service/product and giving account of the experience in a transparent way.

A side-effect of this is that I'm actually doing work for the client in an EM campaign. If I'm just paid to blog about a topic n times a month, I'm not doing any work for them. Chances are, too, that I'm not really adding much value for my readers (witness to that the endless justifications some "paid" bloggers seem to feel the need to get into, and the tendancy to "bury" sponsored posts under "real" ones).

Chez Mercenaire, le blog d’un consultant web freelance que je viens de découvrir (via Ollie, qui nous envoie y lire quelques bons conseils pour freelancers), je trouve un article sur les articles de blog payés — publireportages qui m’interpelle.

Vous connaissez le refrain: un commentaire qui prend trop d’importance et qui finit par émigrer ici sous forme d’un billet de plein droit.

Ce billet m’a donc fait prendre conscience de quelque chose d’important. Commençons ici:

Si un éditeur de Blog veut faire du publi reportage, ce n’est pas pour le bien de sa ligne éditorial ou de son audience mais pour gagner de l’argent avec ce contenu et monétiser son audience.

Thierry Bézier, C’est super d’être honnête avec son audience… alors pourquoi ne pas l’être avec son sponsor ?

Il y a quelque temps, j’ai essayé de mettre en avant mes services de marketing expérientiel, non sans une petite crise de conscience. Je me disais: mais où est la ligne avec le “publireportage” ou le “paid to post”, que je ne franchirai pas? J’ai toujours été assez férocement contre ce genre de pratique (Pay per post, en particulier, me hérisse le poil), et maintenant je comprends pourquoi, et en quoi ce que je fais s’en différencie.

Dans le marketing expérientiel, je rends compte d’une expérience utilisateur qui a une valeur en tant que telle, que ce soit pour le client ou pour mes lecteurs. La visibilité est un effet de bord — recherché bien entendu — mais le contenu n’est pas un simple prétexte pour celle-ci, comme dans le cas du “publireportage”. (Notons, dans un souci d’équité, qu’il y a sans doute publireportage et publireportage: de la pub de bas étage à peine déguisée à l’article qui apporte vraiment une information utile en soi.)

Ce qui m’a amenée au marketing expérientiel il y a un mois environ, c’est le fait que j’étais en discussion avec plusieurs clients potentiels qui voulaient tous que je “blogue pour eux”. J’avais d’ailleurs fait ma petite enquête pour tenter de déterminer combien étaient payés ceux qui “bloguent pour de l’argent”, et grosso modo, ça variait de $5 à plus de $500 par article. Voici un billet intéressant sur le sujet, et un autre concernant les tarifs, en passant. Mais dans l’ensemble, les sommes qu’on se proposait de me payer étaient vraiment très basses, compte tenu du temps à investir, de la prise de risque pour ma réputation, et… mes compétences (quand même!)

Donc, je n’aimais pas l’idée “d’écrire sur commande” (je ne suis pas copywriter), mais je sentais qu’il y avait tout de même quelque chose de valable à proposer à ces clients qui s’adressaient à moi pour que je leur fasse un peu profiter de ma visibilité.

Je gardais toujours à l’esprit le genre d’opération-test menée (gratuitement à l’époque) pour les blogs de (on m’avait d’ailleurs dit que j’aurais dû me faire payer pour ça), mes tests de plate-forme de blogs hébergées en 2004, et quantité d’autres billets écrits sur Dopplr,, coComment bien sûr, et hier, Kayak (il y en a d’autres, mais voilà ceux qui me viennent à l’esprit). En même temps, je parlais avec mon ami Stowe Boyd (qui a recyclé/inventé le terme “experiential marketing” dans notre contexte) qui me disait “tu devrais leur proposer une campagne de marketing expérientiel”.

Eh bien oui. Il s’agirait simplement de formaliser (et de me faire payer pour!) ce que je fais naturellement, spontanément, sur un coup de tête.

The basic idea is the following: a typical “customer” uses a service or product and chronicles their experience in public.

Focus > Experiential Marketing

En clair, le client paie [le blogueur] pour qu’il utilise son service/produit et rende compte régulièrement de l’expérience sur son blog durant une période donnée, en toute transparence. Ce qu’il y a d’artificiel dans cette démarche, c’est qu’on paie une personne pour consacrer une partie de son temps et de son énergie à l’utilisation d’un produit ou d’un service, partant du principe qu’il ne le ferait pas forcément autrement. On détermine également la fréquence à laquelle cette personne rendra compte de son expérience (positive ou négative!) avec le produit/service en question.

Prenons un exemple (tout à fait fictif, car je n’ai jamais eu de conversation à ce sujet avec eux): je n’utilise pas netvibes, même si je connais le service, lui préférant Google Reader comme lecteur RSS. Dans le cadre d’une campagne de marketing expérientiel, mon mandat serait d’utiliser netvibes et d’écrire, par exemple, un article par semaine sur mon blog pour en parler. On se rend tout de suite compte de l’investissement en temps (et aussi, en changement d’habitudes!) que cela requiert.

Le client y gagne du feedback utilisateur détaillé, un point de vue professionel externe sur son produit qu’on peut assimiler à du consulting (parce que j’ai aussi une casquette d’experte des outils du web, sociaux ou autres), de la visibilité (d’où “marketing”, une première fois) via les articles sur mon blog, et du “capital social” (très important, ça, et deuxième pour le “marketing”) pour avoir accepté de laisser le contrôle éditorial entre mes mains et de discuter ouvertement forces et faiblesses. (Il va sans dire qu’on va pas être extrémiste, si je découvre un gros problème de sécurité ou autre, je les avertis directement, comme je le ferais dans n’importe quelle autre circonstance.)

C’est donc bien une opération qui dépasse le simple “bloguer pour le client” et qui lui apporte véritablement quelque chose. Le contenu des articles que j’écris dans le cadre d’une campagne de marketing expérientiel a de la valeur pour le client et pour les lecteurs, qui ont l’occasion de découvrir un service/produit via une expérience authentique — sans la couche de fond de teint et le maquillage habituel de beaucoup d’opérations marketing traditionnelles.

Pour boucler la boucle: on ne peut pas vraiment dire que “être payé pour bloguer” soit populaire dans la blogosphère — voir cet article chez Embruns par exemple. Pour le blogueur qui envisage d’une façon ou d’une autre de tirer un profit financier de son lectorat, il est primordial de garder à l’esprit que ce ne peut être la seule composante dans le contrat avec son “sponsor/client”, sous peine que son lectorat se sente (à juste titre) utilisé.

C’est le problème que j’ai avec les opérations de publireportage: il n’y a pas tellement de valeur là-dedans pour le lecteur. Le fait que le billet pour lequel le blogueur a été payé offre du “contenu de valeur” au lecteur est à mon avis une faible tentative de justification. Thierry relève d’ailleurs deux attitudes de blogueurs qui le confirment à mes yeux (même si ce n’est probablement pas deans ce sens-là qu’il les partage avec ses lecteurs: les justifications à n’en plus finir, et la tendance à enterrer les billets sponsorisés au plus vite.

[…] En tant que communicant je dois dire que je suis contre ses pratiques de “déversement de justifications” qui vont tuer le publi reportage…


Ce qui est nuisible, c’est cette justification permanente

ce qui est borderline : la justification

Peu importe si c’est la version techcrunch, presse citron ou autre… tout ce que je lis concerne le saint lecteur, “je garderais mon intégrité” “je ne changerais pas mon ton” “j’en ferais pas beaucoup” “je ne te trahirais pas lecteur”….

Thierry Bézier, C’est super d’être honnête avec son audience… alors pourquoi ne pas l’être avec son sponsor ?

Je suis consciente que je sors un petit peu cette citation de son contexte. Thierry a raison d’être contre les justifications, mais peut-être pas pour les raisons qu’il donne. Il a raison d’être contre, parce qu’en général (au risque de faire de la psycho à deux balles) quand on ressent le besoin de se justifier encore et encore, c’est qu’on n’est pas tout à fait tranquille avec ce que l’on est en train de faire.

(On pourrait d’ailleurs retourner cette réflexion contre moi, et suggérer que cet article témoigne de mon malaise face au marketing expérientiel — c’est vrai, je ne suis pas 100% à l’aise avec l’idée. Reste ensuite à voir si c’est un souci légitime ou si c’est le fruit de mes angoisses personnelles internes et de mes sentiments de culpabilité souvent mal placés. Je penche pour la seconde. Du coup, le lecteur peut être assuré que je mets tout en oeuvre pour être certaine de ne pas “l’exploiter”, ça c’est sûr.)

Je l’ais vu avec Monabanq par exemple, qui n’est pas un mauvais produit, avec des retours positifs d’expériences, qui a laissé une grande liberté d’expression… beaucoup de ces publis ont été publiés hier dans la soirée 18h-21h et même plus tard…. et le lendemain à midi?

ben les billets ne sont pas en haut de page! très souvent ils ne le sont jamais et arrivent direct à la 2e ou 3e place et en fin de journée on ne les remarque plus, deux jours plus tard ils sont plus en home…

Thierry Bézier, C’est super d’être honnête avec son audience… alors pourquoi ne pas l’être avec son sponsor ?

A mon avis, si les blogueurs qui se font payer pour écrire des articles ressentent le besoin de se justifier à outrance, et ne sont pas à l’aise de laisser en haut de page ou bien en évidence ces “articles sponsorisés”, il y a un problème fondamental avec le modèle que l’on essaie d’appliquer.

Ce problème fondamental, pour être claire, c’est que le blogueur “vend” au client son lectorat, sans vraiment donner quoi que ce soit de valeur à celui-ci en échange. On a donc une situation où l’une des parties (au moins!) est “lésée” — je dis “au moins” parce que je pense qu’en fin de compte, le client l’est aussi. Le malaise dans la relation entre le blogueur et ses lecteurs va rejaillir (négativement) sur le client.

Le contrat est focalisé sur la publication et le lectorat. Le blogueur essaie de faire de l’argent “avec” le blog, au lieu de “parce qu’il a” un blog, ne tenant aucun compte du fameux “Because Effect”.

Ce genre de pratique est vouée à l’échec, à long terme, car il est une simple tentative de transposer dans le monde des blogs, avec un faible déguisement pour tenter de faire passer la pilule, la fameuse “pub”. Je ne dis pas que personne ne peut se faire d’argent comme ça (ce n’est clairement pas vrai, et ça va continuer encore) — mais j’affirme par contre que ce n’est pas un modèle économique qui tiendra. Quand on parle de la façon dont les blogs bouleversent la communication (et donc le marketing et la pub), des social media (en anglais), il ne s’agit pas de payer des blogueurs pour écrire ses pubs à sa place et les servir à leurs lecteurs.

On se déplace par contre vers des modèles de collaboration entre vendeurs, blogueurs, et lecteurs qui sont beaucoup plus complexes, car ils prennent en compte une plus grande part de la richesse des relations humaines et des interactions sociales. Le marketing expérientiel en est un exemple — il y a d’autres formules à créer. Elles auront en commun deux des leçons fondamentales du Cluetrain Manifesto (au risque de me répéter, à lire absolument si ça n’est pas déjà fait, oui, même si “vous connaissez”):

  • il n’y a pas de marché pour les “messages” (“pas de marché” dans le sens où personne n’a activement envie de les écouter; et hop, ça règle le sort d’une bonne partie de la pub)
  • nos décisions (d’achat, en particulier) se basent sur nos conversations humaines plus que sur n’importe quelle opération publicitaire ou marketing.

J’en ai écrit bien plus que j’en avais l’intention. Je pourrais continuer encore, certainement, mais je crois que l’essentiel est dit. Si vous avez des questions sur ce que j’essaie d’expliquer ici, ou si vous n’êtes pas d’accord, les commentaires sont à vous!

Qui prendrait des "cours de blog"? [fr]

Tout d’abord, merci à tous pour vos commentaires sur mon projet de cours d’initiation aux blogs. Ils me sont très utiles, donc continuez à me dire ce que vous pensez! Je me rends compte que je n’ai pas du tout défini assez clairement à qui s’adresserait ce cours et pourquoi. Je vais essayer de remédier ici à ce manquement.

Tout d’abord, il s’agit d’un cours d’initiation au blog personnel. Comme je l’explique dans les conférences que je donne au sujet des blogs en entreprise, le blog est à la fois un outil (technologique), une culture, et une stratégie de communication.

Dès qu’on commence à parler de blog en entreprise (même TPE ou pour un indépendant), en milieu associatif, ou politique, on ne peut échapper à la discussion sur le blog-comme-stratégie-de-communication. Et croyez-moi, ce n’est pas une mince affaire. On se retrouve très vite à faire ce que j’appelle du “Cluetrain 101”, c’est-à-dire expliquer les transformations en profondeur qu’internet (et les blogs, qui sont une manifestation visible et médiatisée d’un bouleversement plus fondamental) a amené dans la façon de concevoir la communication. Ça prend vite des heures, voire des jours. On parle de transparence, d’authenticité, de comment écrire comme un être humain au lieu d’une brochure marketing, de quoi on va parler, comment on va réagir aux commentaires négatifs, de lire d’autres blogs et y réagir. Il y a des peurs, des réticences, des soucis plus ou moins justifiés. C’est une opération qui peut transformer en profondeur la façon dont on communique, et même dont fonctionne l’entreprise à l’interne. “Ouvrir un blog”, c’est la pointe de l’iceberg.

Pour ce genre de service, il faut compter des journées entières de consulting et de formation, avec un suivi qui peut durer des mois. (Si on veut faire les choses bien, il va de soi.) C’est un service personnalisé qui dépend de l’entreprise ou de l’association en question, des personnes impliquées, et qu’il est impossible à packager en une demi-journée. Le cours sur deux journées qu’Anne Dominique et moi-même avons mis sur pied représente un premier pas dans ce processus, une initiation.

Il s’agit donc ici de faire quelque chose de tout à fait différent.

Je désire donner un cours de blog-outil. On n’abordera pas la stratégie de communication, juste l’outil et un peu de la culture. Quand on approche les choses ainsi en entreprise, c’est en général la recette pour avoir un blog qui ne fonctionne pas. Pour l’individu, le particulier, par contre, c’est parfait.

Le blog est un très chouette outil d’expression personnelle. Si on a le désir de raconter des choses, de partager une passion, de pousser des coups de gueule, de rentrer en contact avec des personnes partageant des intérêts similaires aux siens, franchement, cela vaut la peine d’avoir un blog: un petit espace à soi sur internet, que l’on peut alimenter à sa convenance, qui ne coûte rien, et ne demande pas beaucoup plus de maîtrise technique que celle requise pour envoyer un e-mail avec hotmail ou bluewin.

Mais, me direz-vous (et on me le dit!) — bloguer, c’est tellement facile que y’a pas besoin de cours!


Ceux qui disent cela sont des personnes que j’appelle des “blogueurs naturels”. Des gens comme moi, ou comme vous qui avez déjà un blog. Vous avez ça dans le sang, si on peut dire. On est assez à l’aise avec notre ordinateur pour aller s’inscrire sur WordPress et se lancer tout seul. Tenez, je vous explique même comment faire ça dans mon blog. Allez-y. Ouvrez votre blog. Lancez-vous à l’eau. Si ces quelques indications vous suffisent, alors vous n’avez pas besoin de mon cours d’initiation pour apprendre à bloguer.

Je pense à toutes les autres personnes, celles qui ne lisent pas ce blog, ou celles qui le lisent mais ne sont pas assez sûres d’elles sur un ordinateur ou internet pour faire le pas sans assistance. Tout le monde (ou presque) est capable de tenir un blog, mais encore faut-il le croire. Si vous avez des doutes, ou si simplement vous trouvez plus confortable de faire ça accompagné, je suis là pour vous.

Durant ces dernières années, je suis régulièrement approchée par des personnes (de mon entourage ou d’ailleurs) qui veulent que je leur apprenne à bloguer, ce que je fais volontiers. Ces personnes existent donc. Il y a un besoin. J’ai aussi compris, avec le temps, que toutes ces choses qui nous semblent évidentes, à nous les blogueurs naturels, ne vont pas forcément de soi pour le commun des mortels. Il est normal de devoir passer par une phase d’apprentissage ou d’apprivoisement pour se mettre à quelque chose de nouveau. On prend des cours de sport, de peinture, de poterie, de massage, d’informatique, ou d’anglais. On peut aussi apprendre à utiliser internet, et les blogs en particuliers.

En plus des amis et des membres de ma famille que j’ai accompagné lors de leurs premiers pas dans la blogosphère, j’ai appris à bloguer à toutes sortes de personnes, que ce soit lors de séances particulières ou de cours en groupe: indépendants, enseignants, hommes politiques, camarades de chant, employés d’entreprises petites et grandes, journalistes… Oui, il y a un besoin pour ce genre de formation. (Je l’ai déjà dit… je me répète?)

Donc, les particuliers. Pourquoi paieraient-ils pour quelque chose que “n’importe qui” peut leur montrer comment faire? Ben justement, parce que “n’importe qui” ne pourra pas le faire aussi bien que moi (ouh là là, elle est gonflée, non mais, vous avez vu ça?). En fait, c’est la vieille rengaine: suffit pas de savoir faire quelque chose pour être capable de l’enseigner — et j’aime à penser que c’est une chose que je ne fais pas trop mal. Aussi, (je fais ma pub, attention!) apprendre avec moi, c’est tout de même une garantie qu’on partira dans le droit chemin, et que je serai en mesure de répondre à toutes les questions qui risquent de se poser. Je dis pas qu’il n’y a pas dans le coin d’autres personnes aussi capables, hein, mais c’est tout de même autre chose que la nièce de Gérard qui a un Skyblog

Un autre avantage dans le fait de prendre un cours c’est qu’on bloque le temps nécessaire. Souvent, on a envie de faire des choses (“ah ouais, ce serait cool d’avoir un blog, j’en ouvrirais bien un un de ces quatre, mais bon je suis pas tout à faire sûr comment faire, on verra ça…”) mais on ne s’y met pas. Le cours d’initiation, c’est l’occasion de donner le coup d’envoi, avec de nouveau (la satanée garantie) qu’on va pas y passer la soirée pour se retrouver avec rien entre les mains à la fin parce que ça aura foiré.

Bon, trève de plaisanteries, je récapitule. Voici à qui s’adresse mon cours:

  • des personnes qui ont envie d’avoir un blog, ou un espace à elles pour partager sur internet des pensées, une passion, des textes, des critiques de films… peu importe — mais a priori, quelque chose de non-professionnel (“qu’est-ce qui vous intéresse dans la vie?”)
  • des personnes qui ne sont pas des cracks d’informatique, mais qui savent envoyer un e-mail
  • des personnes qui veulent un blog mais ont besoin d’un petit coup de pouce (rassurant ou organisationel) pour donner le coup d’envoi
  • bref, n’importe qui ayant le désir d’avoir un blog personnel, mais n’ayant pas toutes les cartes en main pour se lancer sans aide.


  • où annoncer mon cours pour toucher ces gens? (sur mon blog, clairement, c’est pas le meilleur endroit)
  • comment présenter le cours pour qu’ils sentent que c’est à eux que je m’adresse?

Blogs en entreprise, un peu en vrac [fr]

[en] A brief overview of important points to consider/keep in mind when thinking about blogs in a corporate setting. The two posts with my conference notes, How Blogging Brings Dialogue to Corporate Communications and Blogging in Internal Communications, roughly cover this.

Quel est l’essentiel à savoir lorsque l’on commence à s’intéresser aux blogs?

D’abord, que le blog est trois choses:

  • un outil (technologique) permettant de publier très facilement du contenu
  • une culture avec des usages, une histoire, une éthique
  • une stratégie de communication misant sur le dialogue, l’authenticité et la transparence

L’outil lui-même est relativement simple à mettre en place et est gratuit ou presque.

Apprendre à utiliser le blog pour publier des textes est aisé. C’est très similaire (côté processus et interface) à publier un e-mail. C’est entre autres pour cela que le blog est un outil aussi populaire et que “n’importe qui peut en avoir un”.

Pour une entreprise, il vaut la peine d’avoir une personne à l’interne qui soit capable de gérer le blog côté serveur: mises à jour, installation de plugins, adaptation du thème (gabarit) à la ligne graphique désirée, résolution de bugs dus à des changements de version (PHP, base de données) sur le serveur — ça peut arriver.

Maîtriser les fonctions plus complexes de l’outil de blog peut prendre plus de temps: catégories, tags, gestion des commentaires, insertion d’images ou de vidéo, mise en forme, liens, contenu annexe. La plupart des blogueurs devront avoir une partie au moins de ces compétences afin d’être réellement autonomes.

Utiliser un blog comme outil de communication n’est pas une chose naturelle dans le milieu des affaires. Le style d’écriture est différent de ce dont on a l’habitude (assez proche de l’e-mail) et revêt une grande importance. Etre exposé à la critique et aux questions difficiles est quelque chose dont nous protège de façon générale la communication unilatérale. Renoncer à la langue de bois ouvre parfois la porte à des situations difficiles à gérer.

Etre un bon blogueur requiert en fait des compétences relationnelles et humaines assez génériques et qui font souvent partie de la “personnalité” — ou du moins, qui ne sont pas enseignées de façon formelle. Le coaching sur la durée est le meilleur moyen d’apprendre à gérer ces situations dues à la nature conversationnelle du blog.

Installer l’outil et apprendre à l’utiliser, d’un point de vue technique, ce n’est donc que la pointe de l’iceberg. L’investissement financier est minime pour l’outil lui-même, mais il vaut la peine de mettre le paquet pour accompagner le/les blogueurs dans leur apprentissage de la culture propre à ce nouveau média, et de soutenir l’entreprise dans ses difficultés (inévitables) avec une stratégie de communication qui ne correspond probablement pas à ce qu’elle faisait jusque-là.

En cas de réticences budgétaire face au prix d’une accompagnement de qualité sur, disons, une durée de six mois — il est bon de (se) rappeler qu’on investit souvent sans sourciller des dizaines de milliers dans des solutions techniques ou du matériel. Pour un blog, point de cela: l’argent ainsi économisé doit absolument être consacré à la formation et au conseil stratégique par un spécialiste du média.

Le plus possible, on cherchera à faire bloguer des personnes provenant de l’entreprise elle-même. L’efficacité du blog consiste à mettre en relation de vraies personnes: les blogueurs, et les lecteurs, qui peuvent laisser des commentaires, ou vont peut-être publier des réactions sur leur propre blog. Les blogueurs deviennent vite la “vitrine” ou la “face humaine” de l’entreprise. Il est à mon avis très dommage de confier ce rôle à des personnes externes uniquement — il y a là une incompatibilité entre le rôle du blog, qui est de rapprocher, et le fait de confier ce travail à des externes, qui montre qu’on ne veut pas “se mouiller”.

Le blog lui-même, a priori, ne va pas rapporter d’argent. On fait de l’argent “à cause” du blog, non pas “avec”. Le blog apporte visibilité et crédibilité, d’une façon difficile à imiter avec une campagne de publicité ou de marketing “classique”, car elle est basée sur le dialogue et la relation. C’est en discutant avec les gens de notre entourage que nous changeons d’avis, et prenons des décisions. Internet, via les blogs, permet de démultiplier l’effet bouche-à-oreille de la conversation personnelle.

Ces thèses sont développées de façon plus générique dans l’ouvrage The Cluetrain Manifesto (à lire absolument): nos décisions d’achat sont basées sur les expériences de nos amis; personne n’aime qu’on lui “parle contre”, ce que fait habituellement la publicité; nous ne sommes plus dupes, nous savons que la publicité est mensongère. Sur internet, avec les blogs, les forums, les wikis, les réseaux sociaux, ces conversations qui existaient déjà bien avant l’ère d’internet acquièrent un pouvoir supplémentaire en étant sur la place publique numérique.

La communication ne peut pas être contrôlée. Les blogs permettent aujourd’hui à n’importe qui de se faire entendre, si ce qu’il raconte est jugé assez important par ses pairs. On ne peut pas “taire” les gens à coups de communication bien léchée. La langue de bois est montrée du doigt dans les commentaires et les forums de discussion. Internet nous force à renoncer au contrôle absolu de son image et à se jeter à l’eau, à participer aux conversations qui ont déjà lieu à notre sujet, ou à les encourager à venir se passer chez nous.

Pour bloguer il faut être passionné, et c’est quelque chose qu’on ne peut pas “truquer”. Si le coeur n’y est pas, les centaines de personnes du public vont finir par le sentir, un jour ou l’autre — et les gens n’aiment pas la facticité. Le choix des bonnes personnes pour bloguer est donc crucial. Ce n’est pas un travail pour n’importe qui.

Ecrire dans le blog, ce n’est que la moitié du travail. Il faut garder un oeil sur les commentaires, y répondre, modérer parfois. Il faut surtout lire — d’autres blogs sur des sujets apparentés, ce que le public dit au sujet de son entreprise, de ses produits, ou du contenu du blog. Tout cela prend du temps. Cela ne se fait pas en 3 minutes entre deux meetings. Aimer ce dont on parle et être passionné, ça aide.

Idéalement, je l’ai dit, on choisira ses blogueurs parmi ses employés. Il faut tenir compte dans leur emploi du temps qu’il vont passer un certain nombre d’heures par semaine à bloguer, lire des blogs, échanger e-mails et commentaires là autour. S’ils n’arrivent pas à faire leur travail, éviter la solution facile de mettre la faute sur le blog. Chercher la vraie cause, et y remédier.

Voilà… voyez, c’est un sujet sur lequel on peut vite s’étendre. J’en resterai là pour aujourd’hui, non sans vous donner quelques pistes pour explorer plus loin (pas impossible que j’en rajoute après la publication de cet article).

Livres à lire, en anglais:

  • The Cluetrain Manifesto, incontournable et en plus, disponible gratuitement en ligne
  • Naked Conversations, panorama de plus d’une centaines d’utilisations des blogs dans le monde des affaires, de la politique, ou des médias

Livres en français:

  • Blog Story, pour une introduction générale au phénomène et à son histoire
  • Blogueur d’entreprise, que j’ai reçu mais pas encore lu (pour cause de pile de livres) mais qui est tout à fait recommandable, j’en suis certaine

En anglais:

En français:

N’hésitez pas à laisser un commentaire si vous avez quelque chose à ajouter, ou une remarque, ou même une question.

Blogging in Internal Communications [en]

[fr] Notes de la conférence que j'ai donnée aujourd'hui à Zürich sur les blogs dans la communication interne.

First of all, let me thank all present for their participation, and Nils (Enzaim Communications) in particular for making this happen. I also appreciated having Stefan Bucher amongst the audience — it’s particularly nice when fellow bloggers show up, share their experience, and to top it all tell me my talk was interesting to them, too. Thanks!

Two months ago I gave a talk titled “How Blogging Brings Dialogue to Corporate Communications”. This one is quite similar, but focused on internal communications.

As I explained, the dynamics involved are very similar. It’s about having conversations, whether it’s behind the firewall or outside on the big bad internet — about engaging with people (employees, customers, colleagues) rather than talking at them.

Although the talk I prepared was very similar (with some added stuff specific to internal communications), it did of course turn out rather different. Different people, different questions. I like it (particularly with small audiences) when instead of giving a lecture-like talk, there are lots of questions and I am derailed from what I had planned.

That’s a bit what blogging is about, isn’t it? Having a dialogue. So, when the setting permits it, I try to do the same thing with my talks. My impression is that people get more out of them that way. (Do feel free to correct me if you think I’m mistaken.)

You should probably go and have a look at the notes from my previous talk, as I’m not going to rewrite everything here. I’ll just concentrate on what seems to me was the important additional stuff we talked about. If you were there and want to add things to what I’m writing here, please feel free to leave a comment. I’d be very happy if you did.

If you look at the slides, they’re very similar in the beginning, aside from slides 9-10-11 in which I try to clarify the difference between blog and wiki, as I was told confusion was common.


Content on blogs is organised based on the time they were written. From an editorial point of view, blogs also put the author(s) forward. He has a very different status from the commentators, who are guests on his blog.


Wikis, on the other hand, are organised solely through the links created between the various pages. The focus is on the documentation produced rather than on who produced it. The various author voices tend to merge into a uniform community voice.

Both blogs and wikis are part of the larger class of tools one can name “social media”. These are the online tools which help us publish information in a way that connects us to other people, and encourages us to engage in conversations and relationships with them. You’ll also come upon the expression “social software” used with roughly the same meaning (though the emphasis is in this way more on the technology than on its usage). “Social tools” can be considered a wider category including all technology that explicitly connects its users to one another. (I have to say, though, that many people — I included — will sometimes use these terms interchangeably.)

Short version: it’s “social media” that is important in this discussion, more than “just blogging”. I’m talking of “blogging” inasmuch as it is a popular incarnation of social media.

We spent quite some time commenting the blog examples I showed. These are of course examples of blogging externally, because unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to find examples of internal blogging on the internet ;-).

There are a lot of “damage control” or “crisis” examples, because blogging is a good tool to use in this kind of situation where real communication is required.

Here are a few quotes I read out. First, the beginning of the open letter to Palm on Engadget:

Dear Palm,

Man, what a crazy year, right? We know things haven’t really been going your way lately, but we want you to know that we haven’t given up on you, even though it might seem like the only smartphone anyone wants to talk about these days is the iPhone. It can be hard to remember right now, but you used to be a company we looked to for innovation. You guys got handhelds right when everyone else, including Apple, was struggling to figure it out. And it was the little things that made those early Palm Pilots great — you could tell that someone had gone to a lot of trouble to think about what made for a great mobile experience, like how many (or rather, few) steps it took to perform common tasks.

The problem is that lately we haven’t seen anything too impressive out of you guys. Sure, over the past few years the Treo has emerged as a cornerstone of the smartphone market, but you’ve let the platform stagnate while nearly everyone (especially Microsoft and HTC, Symbian and Nokia, RIM, and Apple) has steadily improved their offerings. So we’ve thrown together a few ideas for how Palm can get back in the game and (hopefully) come out with a phone that people can care about. (And we’re not talking about the Centro / Gandolf.) Read on.

Dear Palm: It’s time for an intervention

And two days later, the response of the Palm CEO, Ed Colligan

Dear Peter, Ryan and Joshua:

Thank you for the very thoughtful post about Palm. I really appreciate the fact that you guys and others care enough to take the time to write such a comprehensive list of actions. I forwarded it to our entire executive staff and many others at Palm have read it. Although I can’t say I agree with every point, many are right on. We are attacking almost every challenge you noted, so stay tuned. Let’s remember that it is very early in the evolution of the smartphone and there is enormous opportunity for us to innovate. We have only just begun to fight!

Thank you for taking the time to write. I really do take your comments to heart and I know the team at Palm is totally committed to delivering the best mobile computing solutions in the world.

Ed Colligan

Not bad, huh? This is the kind of openness people want to see more of.

Corporate types will always be concerned about negative comments, which is a valid concern; however, if you’ve got a product or service that’s worth blogging about, your fans should be coming out to support you — which they have, in Yahoo!’s case. Also, by allowing full comments, and better yet, responding to some of them, you gain a valuable sense of integrity and, as loathe as I am to type these words, “street cred” — that you just can’t buy.

Negative comments are the price you’ve got to pay for having a Real Blog, and companies that have them deserve to be recognized. It shows that they believe in their own business, and they respect their customers enough to allow them to have a public opinion on their business.

Yahoo’s Blog Takes Its Blogging Lumps, Like a Real Blog Should

We talked a lot about negative comments and what to do about them (they can actually turn out to be a good thing if you respond to them openly and honestly). We also talked about ghost-writing (don’t!) and human relationships in general. Things that are true for offline relationships, I find, are also true for online ones you can establish through blogging: if somebody is willing to recognise they made a mistake, for example, or acknowledge that you are upset about something, it goes a long way. Same is true on blogs.

Here’s a link to the corporate blogging 101 I mentioned in passing and I said I would point you to.

I also skipped a bit quickly through the Do/Don’t lists, so here they are again:


  • eat your own dog-food
  • trust your bloggers
  • read other blogs
  • be part of the community
  • use a feed-reader
  • link! even to competition, negative stuff
  • be human
  • learn the culture
  • use an existing blogging tool
  • discuss problems
  • define what is really confidential
  • give existing in-house bloggers a role (evangelists! learn from them!)
  • tag, ping, use the “kit” and other social tools


  • try to control
  • use a ghost-writer or outsource blogging
  • “roll your own” tool
  • ignore established blogging conventions, they’re there for a reason
  • copy-paste print material in posts
  • use corpspeak
  • force people to blog
  • write happy-clappy stuff
  • write blog posts or comments as if they were e-mails (starting with Hi… and ending with a signature)
  • be faceless (signing with the name of the company instead of the person)

Employees know (and so do internal communications people) that the best sources of information are usually one’s direct boss and… the cafeteria. If you think about it, your boss is probably one of the main people you actually have real conversations with. You don’t often have a real conversation with the CEO — but you probably have regular briefings with your boss. Hopefully, you have something resembling a human relationship with her/him.

The cafeteria or the corridors are the informal networking spaces of company life. And often, these informal relationships can actually be more useful to your work than the hierarchy. “Networks subvert hierarchies”, says the Cluetrain.

Well, in a company in which employees can blog, subscribe to their feeds and leave comments on each other’s blogs, the online space can become a kind of “virtual cafeteria” — only in the public eye. This might sound scary to some. But you’re not preventing people from having conversations in the cafeteria, are you? By having these conversations online, in a “public” space (which may still be behind the firewall), you can help them be more efficient if they’re positive, and debunk them more easily if they’re rumors.

RSS is an important technology to be aware of. It’s the one that allows people to subscribe to blogs, comments, or other sources of news. In a company where employees can have their own blogs, they’ll need to learn to use an aggregator, which will enable them to create their own news channel. One can expect an employee to know best exactly what sources of information to follow or people to stay in touch with to get her work done.

People who work remotely, who are on different sites, different silos, or who simply have different working hours can all benefit from the online cafeteria.

A few key checkpoints, if you’re thinking of introducing blogs in your company (“are we ready?” style). 5 prerequisites:

  • the management/CEO/company needs to care about their employees. Blogging won’t work well in an “abusive” relationship.
  • be willing to engage in real, honest dialogue, also about problematic issues (difficult, but often the most rewarding, as with normal human relationships)
  • blogging takes time, so it should be counted in as part of people’s workload/job
  • accept and understand that communication cannot be controlled
  • understand that blogging is not just a technology/tool, that it is mainly a culture/strategy

5 ingredients to “make it work”:

  • training. Don’t assume blogging comes naturally to people. We “natural bloggers” are the exception, not the rule. The technology is cheap — put money in the training, so people have a chance to really “get” the culture.
  • eat your own dog food. If you want to get people in your company blogging, do it yourself, too.
  • blogging is a grassroots phenomenon (bottom-up), so enable it (top-down), knowing you can’t “make” people blog. Create a blog-friendly environment.
  • read blogs and comments. This can easily be 50% of the workload involved in “blogging”
  • speak like a human being.

There… that’s about it. Did we talk about anything else important that I missed?

Focus Page on Experiential Marketing [en]

[fr] Une page sur le marketing expérientiel, en anglais seulement j'en ai peur. Feedback bienvenu.

There, here we go. I’ve written up a page on Experiential Marketing for my new Focus section. Feedback, ideas, reactions, etc… all welcome here in the comments.

And please, don’t hesitate to be critical if you think it’s required. Just stay constructive — thanks.

Talk: Being a Blogging Consultant [en]

[fr] Notes d'une conférence que je viens de donner en Serbie sur ce qu'est le travail d'une "consultante en blogs" (notez les guillemets). Je préfère en fait me définir comme une spécialiste de l'internet vivant (celui des dialogues et des relations humaines) et de sa culture. J'interviens partout où ce genre de connaissance est utile à mes clients.

Here are some rough notes of the talk I gave at Blogopen, reason of my presence in Novi Sad, Serbia. I hope they can be useful to some. Number between square brackets refer to slide numbers (presentation on Slideshare embedded below).

If you have notes of this talk or by any chance have recorded it, please leave a link in the comments.

update: yay! some short recording snippets. see the end of this post.

[1] [2] Two years ago I was a teacher, and if you had told me then that I would be here in Novi Sad, talking about what it is like to be a freelance blogging consultant, you would probably have seen me make a face like this:

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 9

[3] Later on I’ll tell you about what a “blogging consultant” like me actually does, but first of all, here’s my story. I grew up with computers in the house, discovered the internet in 1998 and soon after created a website. I started blogging in 2000 and gradually built a small reputation for myself online. By the time the Swiss media discovered blogs in 2004, I’d been at it for a while. When they started looking for Swiss blogs, they found me, and the phone started ringing.

You know how it is with the media: once one journalist has written about a person or a subject, all the others follow. I started giving interview after interview, exciting at first, but somewhat tedious after some time. But I was lucky to have very good local media coverage, which did help people find me or hear about me.

Just before the press started to show an interest in me (and blogs), a friend of mine asked if I could explain to her how to make a website. We sat together for two hours, and I told her how the internet was made of servers, and websites were in fact files that lived on those servers, files you can make in a text editor with special markings known as HTML, with CSS to control the visual aspect. She said “wow, you’re really good at this, you should get people to pay you to do it!” I was a bit skeptical, but thought it would be cool. So just before my first appearance on TV, I created a professional website (just a few pages, and if you look at it now, it’s really out-of-date — I’ll be working on it during the “Website ‘pro’ day” in a bit over a week). And on that website, I made a page saying something like “I’ll explain to you how to make a website, this is how much it’ll cost”.

Shortly after my TV appearance, I was contacted by a school who wanted me to come and talk about blogs to a class of teenagers. It went surprisingly well and I really enjoyed it, so I added an extra page on my professional site saying “I give talks in schools”. Little by little, through word of mouth mainly, I started having clients. And at one point about 18 months ago, I started having enough clients that I could consider quitting my day job (teaching).

That’s how I became a professional blogging consultant.

[4] So, what does a “blogging” consultant do? It’s not just about blogs. Actually, one of my ongoing struggles is to find a “job title” to define myself. “Blogging consultant” already existed, and people knew about blogs, so it wasn’t too bad.

[5] Blogging is more than it seems. It’s a tool, but it’s more than that. It’s also a culture, and if you’re a company or an institution, blogging is a communication strategy. We see companies and media corporations using the blog tool to publish press releases or official documentation. That’s using the tool, but they don’t get the culture, and they haven’t changed their strategy. (You might want to see the notes on my talk “How Blogging Brings Dialogue to Corporate Communications” if this topic interests you.)

[6] One expression we hear a lot in this kind of context is “social media”. Traditional media go in one direction. Journalists write, people listen (or put their fingers in their ears). It looks like this:

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 1

With social media, on the other hand, we have a new type of media (well, reasonably new) where conversations take place. Communication goes both ways:

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 3

So basically, being a “blogging” consultant has a lot to do with social media. (Understanding and explaining it.)

[7] All this kind of stuff is explained in a great book that everybody should read: The Cluetrain Manifesto. You can read it for free on the Internet or buy it as a real book if you prefer. The Cluetrain Manifesto was written in the year 2000, so quite some time ago, but it’s still spot on. It tells us how people are sick of being marketed at and talked at, and how people are already having conversations everywhere about brands, companies, and these conversations are happening on the internet. Companies, politicians, and media empires would be smart to step in and join the conversation. Anyway… read the Cluetrain Manifesto if you have any interest in what’s going on on the Internet.

[8] So, in my job, I don’t just work with blogs. In addition to blogs, sometimes solution require wikis, podcasts, or social networks. [9] Using these tools brings up values like dialogue, transparency, authenticity, and often leads to rethink strategy. [10] Finding a solution for a client can be helping them re-organise their e-mail, set up a mailing-list, or simply build a website. Maybe it requires social tools like Twitter or Dopplr, or they might even want to know about virtual worlds like Second Life.

This is clearly not just about “blogging”. It’s about this bigger world blogging is an important part of.

[11] I like to think of myself as a specialist of the living web and its culture. The living web is the internet of people, conversations, and relationships.

My work is anywhere people need this kind of knowledge. Who needs this kind of knowledge?

[12] Schools, politicians, companies big and small, freelancers, non-profits, media, startups, people…

[13] Here’s a little more about what it means to be a freelancer consultant in today’s world.

[14] The Balance of the Soloist according to Stowe Boyd:

The most difficult challenge for soloists is to find a balance between the various activities that must take place to survive. I like to oversimplify these down to three:

  1. Doing The Work — The heart of consulting — of whatever description — is delivering the work. A soloist has to deliver value to the client in order to make money. Most consulting-oriented people start with this capability: it’s the other two that cause problems, in general.
  2. Marketing and Networking — I have already noted that I principally market myself through blogging, and that I attend conferences: those are the outward signs of a willingness, or even an obsession with networking with likeminded others. When I find out about a web product that sounds interesting (my beat), I sign up for the beta, fool with it, write a review, ask for more info, and very soon I am involved in a direct communication with the company’s management. I read other people’s blogs and comment on their ideas. When attending conferences I try to chat with both old friends and folks I have never met before. I know many consultants whose natural introversion makes such activities difficult if not impossible. But these interactions are just as critical to being a soloist as performing the work, and are likely to take up just as much time!
  3. Prospecting, Contracts and Cash Flow — I am always happy to talk about money, and as a soloist it is imperative to get what you are worth, and then to collect the fees. This is a blind spot for many, and a make-it-or-break-it issue. I know a lot of folks that find it hard — even with people they know well — to ask for a project, an engagement, whatever, and to demand payment later on. It may seem obvious but many consultants only get involved with this as a necessary evil, but it’s not. It’s just as central as delivering the goods and networking.

Stowe Boyd, “Going Solo: A Few Words Of Advice”

These are the three skills the freelancer needs. Often people drawn towards freelancing are people who are good at doing something (the work) and reasonable networkers — and the third part (money) is the most difficult.

[15] the work

This will of course vary from person to person. Depending on your skills and abilities, you will be doing different things. For example:

  • talking (like this talk I gave — speaking engagements)
  • explaining — talking with clients to tell them about things they need to understand
  • solving problems
  • gathering information (about your client, about a subject you need to know more about)
  • managing projects
  • installing tools (WordPress, wikis…)
  • coding HTML, CSS, or even PHP
  • doing graphical design in Photoshop (I don’t do this, I’m really bad at it, so I usually tell the client he needs to have somebody else for this)
  • training — it’s not that easy for “normal people” to learn how to use a blog tool… and more importantly, understand the blogging culture. Linking can be the topic of a two-hour class! (what to link, when, with what text, trackbacks, linking technique… suddenly text has two dimensions instead of one, so it changes writing style…)
  • “cluetrain 101” — explaining the basics of what the internet is changing to the way we communicate
  • experiential marketing (I’ll blog more about this later) — where you use a client’s product and blog about it
  • blogging for a client (even though it’s not something I believe in, and I don’t do it — some people might)

[16] Marketing

  • blog, blog, blog. And blog more. Demonstrate your expertise. Look at how Thomas Mahon used his blog to demonstrate his expertise at being a high-class tailor. Blog about what you know and what you’re doing.
  • be a good connected net citizen. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter, IM… be out there
  • talk around you offline
  • go to events — try to speak! send in proposals! Barcamps are a great place to start because anybody can talk. Get somebody to film you and put it online. If you’re not speaking, publish live notes of the talks on your blog (live-blog). People who weren’t there or didn’t take notes might appreciate yours.
  • in short, take care of your social capital (whuffie) — your social connections
  • if you’re lucky enough to have journalists call you — be nice with them. I would probably not be here today if it hadn’t been for the local press in Switzerland.

[17] Cash

Often a difficult point, as I mentioned.

  • how do you actually get to the point where you close a deal?
  • contracts
  • you’re worth more than you think! Have friends help you keep that in mind before you negotiate with clients.
  • will you be paid per day, per project?
  • how much? fixing the right price can be tough — I haven’t completely figured out pricing yet.
  • when do you ask for money, when do you not ask? Sometimes it’s not that obvious.

In addition to this, going freelance might mean you have to think about:

  • insurance
  • taxes
  • laws
  • accounting
  • invoicing

And also… balancing your personal and professional life. All this “taking care of your social capital” does tend to blend the two — in a good way, often, but also in a way that makes taking days off or going on a real holiday very difficult. Pay attention to that.

[18]-[23] So, looking back… After my initial “no way!” reaction to the idea of being a “blogging consultant” two years ago, even though I went through phases like this

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 2

and this

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 12

and this

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 11

and even

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 3

overall… I’m pretty happy about my life as a blogging consultant:

Expressions (Stephanie Booth) 14

note: I took all the rather cheesy “emotion” photos myself the morning before the talk, because I didn’t have the time and resources to go hunting for good “emotional faces” stock photography… I hope you’ll forgive me!

You can find more stuff about consulting in my links.

Thanks to everybody who attended my talk and gave me kind feedback. Many Serbian bloggers also mentioned my talk in their blog posts, but I’m afraid I can’t understand any of it! Here are the links, though:

As far as I can tell, some posts simply mention me. But if there’s anything said worth to be translated or paraphrased, feel free to do so in the comments! (Just tell me what link it’s about…)


Thanks a lot to darko156 who filmed two short video sequences and uploaded them to YouTube. Here they are. The first video is slides [4]-[7] (what exactly a blogging consultant is, social media, The Cluetrain Manifesto):

The second is slides [7]-[10] (Cluetrain, social media tools and values — dialogue, transparency, authenticity, strategy…):

Curious about what I was waving in my right hand?

How Blogging Brings Dialogue to Corporate Communications [en]

[fr] Notes d'une conférence que je viens de donner à Zurich sur les blogs en entreprise.

As promised to the participants of this (Monday) evening’s event, here is my slideshow of the talk, notes, and links. note: notes written up on the train on the way home, I hope the links aren’t too broken and that it makes sense; let me know in the comments if there is anything weird.

Thanks to everyone for participating so well 🙂 Please feel free to add notes, comments, further questions, things you took away from the talk in the comments to this post.

note: the beginning of the notes are roughly what I said; questions and answers are not included — there were lots; I gave an accelerated version of the second part of the presentation, as we had talked a lot, and actually, covered much of what was important anyway.

For links related to corporate blogging, see those tagged corporateblogging and 20070924 for those linked to today’s talk. Click on the “related tags” on the right to explore further.

I’ve added slide numbers in brackets roughly when they appear. Not that the slides are that interesting, of course…

[1] [2] Blogging is a tool that brings dialogue, and the point of this talk is to see how that happens in a corporate context.

[3] Two main aims:

  • understanding the “bigger picture” blogging is part of
  • practical advice on introducing blogs into a business setting.

[4] As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not a Powerpoint wizard, so won’t be dazzling you with fancy slides and lots of buzzwords. I’d like to have something approaching a conversation with you. I’m obviously expected to do quite a lot of the talking (that’s what I was asked to come for!) — but you know lots of things I don’t, and you’ll have comments and questions. Please ask them as we go along… I’d rather go off-track from my presentation and be sure to address the things you’re wondering about. note: and yeah, that’s exactly what happened! got so caught up in our conversation that I lost track of time! This way of doing things, you’ll notice, is related to what blogging is about.

[5] First, I need to know a bit more about you. I know you’re communication executives and I’m told you’re already familiar with blogs — that’s a start, but I need more:

  • who reads blogs?
  • who has a blog? (personal, corporate, work-related?)
  • who is blogging this talk? (nobody — hopefully in 2 years from now, half the room)
  • who uses a feed-reader (NetNewsWire, BlogLines, Google Reader)
  • who is in a company that uses corporate blogs?
  • who has employees/clients who blog?
  • who has read The Cluetrain Manifesto? Naked Conversations? (required reading!)
  • who is in a company that is blogged about? do you know?

[6] Before we get to the meat (practical stuff), let’s clarify

  • what is blogging?
  • where does it fit in?

There’s a lot of confusion there.

Blogging is:

  • a tool/technology
  • a culture
  • from a business point of view, a strategy

Different layers.

Blogs@Intel · Intel Corporation

[7] Using just the “tool” layer often fails, because it’s just publishing “official communications” in a different wrapping. And official communications are boring — I hope I’m not breaking the news to anyone. Example of this: Not very exciting.

I think a lot of corporate blogging failures can be attributed to stopping at the “tool” aspect of blogging, and underestimating the cultural aspects.

Listening and Learning Through Blogging

[8] Example that gets the “culture” layer: Listening and Learning Through Blogging on McDonalds’ CSR blog.

I’ve just finished my second posting, and I’ve realized how much there is to learn about the blogosphere. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at other blogs, listening to what others are saying about what we’re doing, and picking up some suggestions along the way. (McDonalds’ CSR blog)

From a business point of view, adopting blogging is a strategic decision, because it impacts the culture. It’s not just a shiny tool we can use to do the stuff we do usually, it’s linked to deeper changes.

[9] So we’re going to concentrate on the “culture, strategy” side of blogging, which is the first part of this presentation. So we’re going to have to backpedal, zoom out, and look at the big picture: [10] The Internet, The Cluetrain Manifesto.

So, what’s the Cluetrain about? It started as an online rant, and grew into a book in 2000. It’s still valid today.

Basically, the Cluetrain says that conversations are happening, inside and outside your organization, and they can’t be stopped.

[11] People are tired of being talked at. They (inside: employees; outside: customers) are too busy having [12] real conversations with their friends, people they know and trust. Offline as well as online. They won’t listen to fabricated discourse (a lot of marketing). I know that when I receive my bank statements, I’m interested in how much I’ve spent, and the flyer giving details about my bank’s latest service goes straight to the bin. What about you?

[13] These conversations are everywhere. They’re talking about you — you the companies. A lot of our day-to-day conversation is about brands, consumer products, services… These conversations [14] can’t be controlled. Control is a big issue when it comes to corporate blogging.

Is communication something you control?
Are conversations something you can control?

[15] We know how important word-of-mouth is in marketing, and in the shaping of buying decisions we make. We listen to our friends (people we trust) way more than advertising.

Do great stuff. Care. Let people know. They’ll talk about you.

[16] Blogging is about jumping in there, being part of the conversation. And this conversation is bigger than just blogging.

Not that easy, but not that hard: remember what it is to be human. To be passionate about something. To care. Bring that into the conversation.

So the important question becomes: how will this fit into my corporate culture — or not? Is it compatible?

[17] What I mean by corporate blogging: blogging that has to do with corporations, businesses. Blogging beyond the tool (culture). Everything is possible.

  • internal
  • external
  • one author
  • multiple authors (group blog)
  • very official
  • unofficial
  • employee blogs
  • news outlet (with the danger of missing the “culture” and falling back into the “just tool” use)

[18] Some quick examples of real “corporate” blogs. A lot of damage control in my examples — one thing blogs are good at.

[19] Who should blog?

Corporations do not blog. Humans do, people. You can’t remove the person from the blog. Businesses with a “do the right thing” attitude. Enthusiasm needed! [20] Bad guys shouldn’t blog. Businesses who mistreat customers and employees shouldn’t either. Not if you’re dull or cheesy or very controlling. (See Naked Conversations, pp. 134-138.)

[21] Why should one blog? Very important question.

  • to communicate differently, humanise the company
  • not just another channel to push the same tired message through.

Where does blogging fit in strategically? => who, what exactly…

See possible objectives here. Basically, anywhere there are people doing things. Except probably high-confidential security stuff.

[22] How?

You want to get blogs going for all the good reasons, but how does one

  • start blogging [23]
  • blog well? (ongoing work!)

No real “one size fits all”. Many answers to this, depends on the situation/culture of the company in question.

Some general answers, however.

[24] Check out the corporate blogging 101, very precious stuff there.

enable blogging. Encourage employees to blog. Blogging is a grassroots phenomenon, but it needs support form the top. There are maybe people already blogging — find them, and use them to encourage more blogging.

[25] have a purpose (that important Why? question). Don’t blog to blog. Figure out what current needs can be adressed by blogging. You can start small:

  • event?
  • product?
  • “news”?
  • project?
  • office life?
  • expertise on one topic?

This is very context-dependant. Need to understand the context well to be able to choose/advise wisely.

Careful! If you’re using a blog to post the usual “official communications”, you’re missing something.

[26] learn the culture: this is the big bit. Listen to bloggers (online and offline, in-house and out). Get training (this is where it’s worthwhile to put your money, as you’ve saved on expensive software).

Before going to India, I studied the culture, but it couldn’t prepare me totally for what I found when I went to live there. You need to go to a foreign culture to really “get” it. Blogging is a foreign culture.

Learning to blog well can take time. Not everyone is a natural. Ongoing effort!

[27][28] Remember, blogging is about Me & You, having a conversation.

  • dialogue
  • relationship
  • people

[29] Listen. Read blogs. Read comments. Be open. Get a feed-reader.

[30] Passion. Believe. Be passionate. If you’re not interested, it’ll be boring.

[31] Style. HUGE subject. How to write on a blog. It’s difficult.

  • write for the web
  • use “I”
  • use links, make your writing 2D instead of 1D
  • informal
  • short paragraphs
  • simple, direct language
  • no jargon or corpspeak
  • tell a story, as if to a friend
  • author name, but don’t sign posts like e-mail

[32] Time. Don’t kid yourself, it takes time. Commitment. Easily an hour a session, a few times a week. But it’s fun 🙂

If you try to remove any of these ingredients, I doubt your blog will be successful and survive.

Best practices?

[33] DO:

  • eat your own dog-food
  • trust your bloggers
  • read other blogs
  • be part of the community
  • use a feed-reader
  • link! even to competition, negative stuff
  • be human
  • learn the culture
  • use an existing blogging tool
  • discuss problems
  • define what is really confidential
  • give existing in-house bloggers a role (evangelists! learn from them!)
  • tag, ping, use the “kit” and other social tools

[34] DON’T:

  • try to control
  • use a ghost-writer or outsource blogging
  • “roll your own” tool
  • ignore established blogging conventions, they’re there for a reason
  • copy-paste print material in posts
  • use corpspeak
  • force people to blog
  • write happy-clappy stuff
  • write blog posts or comments as if they were e-mails (starting with Hi… and ending with a signature)
  • be faceless (signing with the name of the company instead of the person)

[35] FUD: fear, uncertainty, doubt. Cf. Naked Conversations pp. 140-145 for discussion, really, it’s all there:

  • negative comments
  • confidential leaks
  • loss of message control
  • competitive disadvantage
  • time-consuming
  • employee misbehaviour
  • ROI absent…

[36] ROI of blogging (google for “ROI blogging” — without quotes). Comes up often (need for quantitative measurement), but still very debated topic. Respected experts all over the map, from “it doesn’t/can’t apply” to “here is a way to calculate it”.


  • hard returns
  • soft returns

There is a return, it’s a worthwhile investment, say those who do it. How to measure it is another story. Sorry 🙁

[37] A closer look at some examples… coComment [disclosure: ex-client]:

coComment blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[38] Read the first sentence… what is wrong here? Not a human speaking. Don’t post press releases as blog posts. You might cite them, or link to them, or comment on them, but don’t stick them in there as posts. How does the reader think his “feedback” will be received when he’s being spoken at to start with?

coComment -- Corporate Blog Example 1

[39] Privacy concerns raised on other blogs. Good to address the issue and respond, instead of hiding! (it would just get worse… cf. Kryptonite). “Click here” looks bad, though, and hints that the medium (blogging) isn’t really understood.

coComment blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[40] OMG. What is this doing here? Did somebody smoke something? First-time author on this blog — an introduction would have been more appropriate.

coComment blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[41] Note that this is a multi-author blog, which is usually the case with an “official blog”, though often there will be one “main author” who carries it. Apology for painful upgrade, that’s good. E-mail-like signatures on each post, however, again point to incomplete understanding of the culture.

Flickr: great example (and great photosharing service too, sign up today).

Flickr Blog -- Corporate Blog Example

[43] Look at that outage notice. It’s fun! Really fun. And there are updates. Two of them. As a user/customer, I feel that they give a damn.

Flickr Blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[44] Coverage of what’s going on in the community. Blogging is a lot about community, nurturing it.

Flickr: it's not just blogging

[45] Here, a forum post. It’s not just about blogging, remember the “bigger picture”? But same kind of attitude. How you engage with others in the community. Treat them as people and not like numbers. Look at how well this issue is documented, with links and all — and this is a “problem situation”. We’re not shoving the dirt under the carpet here.

Moo note: if you got a business card from me, this is where they come from!

MOO | Blog -- Corporate Blogging Example

[46] So, this is a promotional posting (ad, marketing, oh my!) but look… it feels like she was e-mailing a friend, rings true.

Up for debate (bloggers will tell you “yes”): can you feel if somebody put his/her heart into a post?

[47] Closing notes:

Blogging is a strategy. Deep change in communications. Not pushing a message anymore, but

  • conversations
  • relationships
  • trust
  • people

The question to ask is:

Is my company/department/team ready for this?

Blogging is a grassroots phenomenon, so bottom-up (you can’t force people to be passionate about something and blog about it), but needs support from top-down. There are maybe already blogs in your company, and you might not know it!

Read The Cluetrain Manifesto and Naked Conversations to start. (I’m serious.)

Eat your dog food. If you’re going to introduce blogging in your company, you need to start blogging — before. Open a account and start writing about stuff you’re interested in. Use your blog as a backup brain, writing things as they occur to you. For you first, and for sharing with others in case it’s of interest to them.

Blogging is technically cheap, but culturally expensive.


Some extra stuff, off the top of my head (some from off-presentation discussion):

Blogging tools: WordPress, Movable Type and Typepad (SixApart), Drupal.

Looking up stuff in blogs: use Technorati or Google BlogSearch. Use Technorati Cosmos to see who linked to a given blog post.

The “Because Effect”: I make money because of my blog, not with my blog.

Discussion of trust and reputation in the blogosphere. Auto-regulating medium.

A few sketches I made while preparing this talk, but didn’t use:

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 1

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 2

Cluetrain 101 Sketch 3

Open-sourcing the invitation copy.

Good example of an “event blog”: LIFT conference (and go to the conference, too, it’s a great event).

promotional 😉 note: if you would like to have me come and give this talk (or another!) elsewhere, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. This is one of the things I do for a living.