If a tree falls in the forest will anyone blog about it? Do blogs beget blog postings?
As too many organizations are discovering the hard way, employees donвЂ™t want to blog. Approximately 1-2% of employees are interested in blogging (today), but most donвЂ™t have any desire to pick up the proverbial pen.
Despite its massive size and extremely technology and web savvy population IBM has found the same problem. About 5% of the employee population blogs on the corporate intranet, but a far greater percentage wants to read employee blogs. In fact, although there are more than 16,000 blogs at IBM, fewer than 900 people (less than one-quarter of one percent of all IBM employees, or 0.25%) have blogged in the past 3 months, according to an internal IBM survey of employees.
Despite the lack of blogging, IBM knows there are many benefits to employee blogs. вЂњEmployee blogging has benefits both for individuals and the organization,вЂќ say Werner Geyer and Casey Dugan of IBMвЂ™s T.J. Watson Research. вЂњIn order to inspire the creation of blog posts, we developed a novel topic suggestion system that connects blog readers with blog writers through sharing topics of interest.вЂќ
IBMвЂ™s Blog Muse is a new employee social media tool that connects blog readers and blog writers by allowing readers to make blog topic suggestions and requests of employee subject matter experts who blog at IBM. Employees can вЂњAsk for a blog postвЂќ online and Blog Muse will automatically route the topic to those bloggers that are most likely to write about it. If a blog post on the requested topic gets posted then the requester is automatically notified by Blog Muse.
Blog Muse also encourages employees to take up blogging via a prominent tab called вЂњGet inspired to writeвЂќ which recommends topics to readers and potential bloggers. Employees can also search out content by topic and vote on blog posts.
The preliminary results (300+ respondents) and data of the Intranet 2.0 Global Survey 2010 reveal that 55% of organizations have employee or executive blogs on their corporate intranet. However, the challenge for these organizations and the owners of the blogging platforms is no different from IBM: you can lead an employee to a blog, but you canвЂ™t make him or her write.
Social Intranet: Social Intranet Success Matrix
Executives should blog, not employees
Change management for intranet 2.0
While employees are provided with the capability to blog, I would question whether they are provided with the appropriate incentive or compensation.
I have rarely seen “create N number of blog posts per month” as a role requirement in a job description or within a set of employee performance targets.
Employees know what they are measured on and what will contribute to a positive performance review. Unless blogging is explicitly required by the role, it will not receive priority in an employee workday, especially in todays time crunched environment.
Furthermore, blogging involves expressing opinions. This involves taking the risk of expressing yourself in a highly public forum where your thoughts will be judged by the entire company and are open to public critique and comment. It is a rare employee confident enough to take up that challenge, especially without direct benefit.
The challenge before todays leaders is how to effectively measure the contributions made to business value through the new communication media such as blogs, intranets and social media. A blog outlining a new business strategy or significant lesson learned from a project holds great business value. A rambing post about the quality of food in the office food court .. perhaps less valuable. Yet measuring the value in order to reward employee efforts effectively is a substantial challenge requiring both qualitative and quantitative metrics and analysis. I have yet to see this particular nut cracked.
Employees are definitely not provided with the right incentive or compensation to blog. Although most companies should not offer it, they should provide the necessary motivation which is delivered through the appropriate change management and communications. There is lots of business value out there in blogging and 2.0, and I've highlighted a few case studies to support this. More to come…
I agree, most companies should not offer a financial incentive for blogging or social media participation. But there has to be some perceived personal benefit for the employee to reward their efforts and the risk to their social capital. The concepts of employee engagement being more than just a factor of placement on the pay scale are just beginning to be understood.
I think this is an ongoing leadership challenge. Though Leadership is recognized as having tremendous value in all current leadership literature. Yet it is Sales Leadership and contribution to the financial bottom line that is easiest to measure and is rewarded by traditional accounting and hierarchy based management structures. I expect to see some great shifts as Business 2.0 catches up with Web 2.0. More to come indeed …