Not bloggers, of course. We know it’s a chance to shoot our mouths off.
But the rest of the world wonders. What is blogging good for?
Today, notice of that eBay may have found a way to make us useful.
Ebay wants to build bridges by developing software which it can then put in the hands of bloggers, allowing them to create links between niche communities and relevant products. … The idea behind [MeCommerce] software is to allow bloggers to recommend music, books, DVDs and T-shirts to readers who can make impulse purchases without leaving the blog.
We will serve as a tributary system for Ebay. We will find consumers where they live…or at least where they read. We will make heartfelt endorsements. Purchases will be made. If this model works, blogging is the new TV, tiny and particular where TV was mighty and mass.
Then the question is whether bloggers will "flock" in a manner that allows producers to recapture big bets. Will enough of us recommend the same movies, books, TV shows (and perhaps TV sets, cars, and suit makers?) that someone can hope to make their numbers. Or is this truly a descent into Chris Anderson’s notion of the market as a small tail, in which small producers exist to serve small niches.
The other question is what the Ebay harness would do to blogging. I think there is a good chance that it would transform our editorial content quite substantially. It might well make us less criticial. Why diss something when we can give praise that brings profit? I think I like the blogosphere better without a harness.
And while we are glimping the larger significance of blogging, consider the interview with Fiona Czerniawska on the present and future of consulting Management Consulting News.
See if blogging doesn’t seem like an answer to the "thought leadership" issue. We will have to think of ways, first, to inform bloggers with better data, in the manner of all management consulting, and second, to aggregate and harvest blogging idea generation. But clearly there is a great engine of ingenuity, creativity, and intellectual activity out there that shouldn’t be very hard to tap. I am hoping that Steve Postrel might give us the benefit of his opinion.
MCNews: As consultants try to make their mark among these various decision makers, what’s working for consultants in terms of marketing, and is that changing at all?
Czerniawska: I see a great deal of activity around thought leadership. I can’t count the number of firms that seem to be investing heavily in revamping their thought leadership, both in terms of the internal process through which they develop content but also the extent to which they communicate effectively outside.
MCNews: Do you see that as a renewed effort?
Czerniawska: Yes. Quite a few firms canned their thought leadership teams in 2002, but are now rebuilding them. And they’re by no means alone. When I say the words ‘thought leadership’ to virtually any firm, I get lots and lots of people sitting up and paying attention and saying, we’re putting millions of dollars into this. We don’t know what we’re getting, but we need to do something.
MCNews: Is it your sense that understanding the return on investment for thought leadership is important or is it something that firms just believe they need to do?
Czerniawska: Oh, I think they recognize that it’s important. Maybe they’ve been down the road with the big expense of advertisements, which help build a firm’s brand but don’t really help clients short-list the firm for projects. It’s an increasingly hard tool to use for differentiation. I think people see thought leadership as the key battleground at the present.
Callan, Eoin. 2006. Ebay considers creating software tools to tap blogging markets. Financial Times. July 5, 2006.
For the Management Consulting News interview with Czerniawska, go here.