by: David Armano

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a simple question. Should digital agencies be blogging? I mean, we are out there advising clients on "social media" and how it's evolving the way we interact with brands and each other. Some folks felt that the question was silly. Isn't this a no brainer? Well, not exactly. The best part of the post came in the comments (no surprise) and the post itself got picked up by several agencies who use internal blogs to discuss issues like this. This means that they are having conversations in private vs. publicly. And there's nothing wrong with that. But wouldn't you like to be fly on that agency's wall? I would.

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My POV comes from a personal perspective as most things do. Blogging has given me a better grasp of the nuances of social media—how it works and what it means to get involved. It's made me a better writer, a better thinker and more "strategic" at creative problem solving. For me, it is "intellectual prototyping" as Roger Martin put it. I use my blog and other social media tools as "digital ethnography". I watch what people do online. I study it and connect the dots. I look for patterns in behavior. I take comments on my blog to heart—even when I don't respond. I soak it all in. And it most definitely creeps into my work. You can be sure of that. So should agencies be blogging? My answer comes in the form of a challenge:

Yes, I believe agencies should be blogging. Blogging with a purpose. I believe they should invest the time and energy it takes and align the effort around their agency's culture, beliefs and perspectives. I believe it's an opportunity to participate openly. But  if an agency doesn't see a purpose—then maybe it is better not to do it at all (I'm with you Cynthia). As I said in my comment, it's less about having a "social media strategy" and more about having a vision. My vision or "purpose" was to prove to myself that a blog could indeed be an "engaging experience"—but I didn't know how I was going to do this. Then I did my first meaningful visual and the rest was history. But enough about me—here's what some of you had to say:

"Sounds like a big question. Perhaps we should also ask what they would blog about? How often? Would their blog be public / internal or private (for the clients only?)"
~Daniel

"I think many of the very large digital agencies are stuck in guarding the dynasties that they created in Web 1.0. Unless you are immersed in and actively participating in social media how can you really advise clients? You have the bias of the 'pet rock' comment above clouding your vision.

It's all about control. Blogging is about giving up control to conversation. Look at the popularity of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, et al - the social web is taking over and this is hard to handle for the mega consultancies and, especially, the multi-national advertising agencies.

...I would take conversation and community over Flash and glitz anyday."
~Tim

 "For me it comes up to this: Will you take advice of an accountant or a lawyer that only read some articles but never done any work themselves? So why take advice from a marketer that never blogged before. (You all know about Coke Zero and Sony psp flogs). I believe you have to practice what you preach. The first thing I've done in FRANk was to start a company blog. It's not much and we didn't "find our voice" yet but I think all this will come. The critical thing is to be part of the conversation as soon as you can. Because if you're not, well, you're talking to yourself."
~Tamir

"Blogging for the sake of blogging will produce no value.

If an organization has ideas, points of view or expertise they wish to share and explore they should consider blogging.

I think it is risky for an agency to initiate blogging to prove credibility in social media. When Ogilvy authored books he was motivated by his message not the form it took."
~Kelly

"When I think things go wrong is when an agency has a blog that's a bit too branded. Or one where there are too many people posting....One where the blog loses the style and personality, due to the fact that its more a blog by committee. The best blogs in my opinion are those either run by one person or a small specific core group. "Don't lose the unique style & personality."
~Eric

"An agency should have a blog (like its clients) only if there is a strong business case for it. I love blogs and blogging. But I don't see any arguments here that convince me any given agency should have a blog. Having the expertise in-house does not necessarily equate to having an agency blog."
~Challis

"This one you all missed. It's bloody good fun. It has galvanised people within the agency (both creators and readers) and provides a collective focus.
We like that."
~Simon

"If you're a digital agency claiming to participate in social media and conversational marketing, you should have a blog before you have a site. How can you claim to be a marathon runner if you never ran in your life?"
~Uwe

"I honestly think the reason more companies aren't doing this is time. No one has it. And they have no idea who to designate to maintain and write for their blogs."
~Beth

"If the agency blog has a purpose, then more power to them. But if they blog for the mere sake of saying they do to clients, that rings more insincere than not doing it at all."
~Cynthia

You can view full comments in the original post here:

Original post: http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2007/11/the-purpose-dri.html

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