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Blogging as a State of Mind: Reflections on 10 Years of Blogging

Charlene Li

people in the information spaceTen years ago today, I wrote my first blog post, entitled “Blogging as a State of Mind”. I still vividly remember the moment — my palms were sweating as I pressed the “Publish” button on my Typepad blog for the first time. I was excited, but nervous about what was going to happen. What would people think? What if I made a mistake?

What happened was that I became completely transformed by the interactions and relationships of people I’ve met through my blogging and subsequently, social media activities. I’m eternally grateful to everyone who has encouraged, supported, and engaged with me — I have grown and learned so much.

In my first year, I had 120 posts on my blog. In comparison, this past year I wrote 10 blog posts, 10 LinkedIn Influencer posts, and approximately 800 tweets. My blog posts get decent traffic and no comments. In comparison, my latest LinkedIn post on the Apple Watch had over 10,000 views, 330 likes, and 69 comments. You just can’t beat the engagement that social media platforms provide, something that blogs on their own can’t do. It’s one of the reasons why long-time bloggers like Robert Scoble abandon their blogs for social media platforms.

But what I wrote ten years ago in that post still resonates today: “I believe that blogs as they are today are more a state of mind than a technology or a publishing tool.” The platforms that we use are less important than the state of mind we take on when posting and engaging.

For example, one of the biggest difference is that ten years ago, the idea of companies engaging customers in a two-way dialog was a completely foreign idea. This is what I wrote in that first post:

“What if we actually asked our customers what they wanted? What if we used mechanisms like blogs to give customers a voice — and then actually listened and acted on requests?”

We’ve come a very long way in just ten years — our research shows that the vast majority of enterprises have some sort of social media presence.

But have we really come that far? After all, a presence doesn’t really mean that companies are truly listening and making changes because of customer’s issues. Moreover, have companies really changed their tune when it comes to developing relationships with customers, in an authentic, open, and transparent way?

Here’s the example I often give to organizations and their executives. In 2006, a Dell notebook caught on fire in Kyoto, Japan and Dell found itself in a media firestorm (pun intended). Having just launched their shiny new corporate blog, the incident really put Dell to the test — how would they handle this situation? Ignore it, cross the fingers, and hope that it will all die down? Or address it head-on? The result: Dell made the gutsy call and wrote a blog post that not only discusses the incident but also links to an article and picture of the Dell notebook on fire. That took a lot of guts.

Fast forward eight years to present day. How many companies are prepared to do something similar in the face of a crisis? I have asked this question now of audiences for eight years and the number of hands that go up each time have stubbornly remained in the single digits. Not much has actually changed, despite all of the followers and activities on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the rest.

Despite this, I remain ever optimistic because there are companies and leaders who have embraced the social mind set, one that focuses on the relationships being created and deepened, rather than the technology. Their ranks grow with each passing day.

And there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. My palms still sweat a little every time I hit that “Publish” button.

Addendum: Below is a list of my favorite posts over the past decade, and a little bit about why they are special to me.