Staying current on your industry with blogs

March 3, 2006 by Jared Goralnick

The Washington Post published an article today that reaffirms an idea I’ve been spreading for a while to my peers: blogs serve as an efficient and powerful tool for businesses to stay informed within their industry. The article primarily discussed the use of Nielsen BuzzMetrics to track trends, but it lent more credibility to the blogosphere as a whole.

One of the article’s interesting points was that blogs may offer the best gauge of customer sentiment given that they’re often “gut-level and spontaneous.” Why it is that HP needed blog-metrics to recognize this particular opinion is beyond me, but I’m glad something clued them in:

Hewlett-Packard, the computer and technology company, lately has picked up from cyberspace that customers really hate leaving their computers at shops for repairs; far better, the company learned, is having technicians repair the machines in homes. “What that makes us do is that when we think about investing more in that area, we say, yes, it’s positive to do that,” said Rickey Ono, business strategy manager for HP. “We drill into the individual comments and it helps to justify our expenditure on in-home repair.”

The article also served as fodder for a program I’m presenting at the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in June 2006, “Relax: It’s time to Outsmart your Peers with RSS.” I hope to offer some ideas to business professionals on how they can stay informed by better utilizing RSS and other technologies related to blogs. Here’s a description of the event which will take place in Ocean City, MD in June:

News is breaking everyday that may affect your client-work or the management of your practice. It seems onerous to keep up with it all–so most people don’t bother to scour the internet and journals for the latest trends. Now, a technology called Really Simple Syndication (RSS) can make your life easier. With RSS, your regular websites, authors and research can be aggregated into one place for you to access at your leisure, whether or not you’re online. [editorial cut of marketing prose] Jared Goralnick will explain how to use RSS to stay current without all the hassle.

Hopefully there’ll be more articles out and less resistance to this idea over the coming months. I hope to also write/speak about how NOT following these trends, especially for technology companies, can lead to their downfall. The HP example above proves that it’s easy to become distant from your customers and that a lot of methods need to be employed to meet their needs. Blogging, RSS, and web-metrics tools will hopefully continue to be looked at as valuable business assets to this end.

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