By now, most internet users have heard the warnings: what you put on the internet never really goes away and can be accessed by virtually anyone. But when internet use is coupled with job functions, navigating cyberspace becomes even more complex. Even keeping one’s personal online identity in line with that of their employer or potential employer can prove nearly impossible due to the abundance and availability of information online.
Corporate blogging is one clear and large example of the intricacies involved in using the internet to develop and maintain a business reputation. Corporate blogs can serve differing functions, from providing information to persuasion and marketing to customer relations.
But blogging may not be the best medium for all corporate communications. Blogs do offer exposure to the entirety of the World Wide Web, which may be great publicity for some companies. Others, however, are intimidated by the vastness of the online audience and are more interested in reaching a target group or existing customer base, which most traditional blogging and social media platforms are not set up for. In fact, the blogosphere has grown so large that internet uses must sift through virtual tons of “blogorrhea” in order to find things that interest them (“Business…”). In many cases, corporate blogs have become devoid of all original content and are “being used merely to post static marketing materials as an extension of companies’ Web sites” (Havenstein 14). Where this is the case, it is questionable as to whether a corporate blog is even necessary or beneficial.
Regardless of their purpose or content, corporate blogs must be carefully managed in order to avoid backlash from the expansive online community. The problem with this, however, is that opinions on what is acceptable for corporate blogs are as varied as the millions of blogs in the blogosphere. There are several guidelines regarding etiquette and content in corporate blogging that are fairly universal:
- Blog postings should be relevant to the corporation and reflective of corporate ideas and values;
- Postings should be aimed at a general audience (unless the corporation targets adults only) without use of profanity or other offensive or insensitive words, phrases, or ideas, and;
- Postings are not standalone entities and are not separate from sociopolitical contexts.
When these rules are broken, the course of action should include reprimanding and even firing of employees involved.
But where is the line between business blogging and personal blogging? In certain corporate blogging settings, some level of individualized contribution is required and it can be difficult to distinguish the individual from the business. In recent years it has become common practice for employers to fire employees based on statements made on blogs or social media whether on a business related pages or a personal profile. Because of ideologies dictating that a certain level of integrity must be maintained by corporations, when a business is thrown into a full-on scandal based on employee actions the internet backlash can become so intense that the only option is to terminate the individual indefinitely. With the continued idea that corporations are people, employees are forced to adopt the same image and values as their employer in order to secure their position. Corporate identity has risen above employee individuality, a phenomenon that has personified corporations in a deeply problematic way.
“Business: The blog in the corporate machine; corporate reputations.” (2006, Feb 11). The Economist, 378, 66. 29 August 2014.
Havenstein, Heather. “Corporate Blogs Take On An Edge.” Computerworld 41.31 (2007): 14-16. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.