Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My blog: The End of the Road or a Change of Lanes?

In three days, it will be the two year anniversary of my first blog post on Experience: The Blog.  Originally intended to be an exploration of experiential marketing strategies, my interest and focus quickly turned to social media and how the growth of the peer-to-peer groundswell creates challenges and opportunities for marketers.  It is apt to recall on how my blog started as one thing and became another, because change is in the air again.  I'd like to reflect on that change, put it into context and invite you to join me as I shift my blog publishing to a new address.

A month ago, news broke that Forrester would be altering its blog policies and analysts would shift their industry-related blogging into a new, common platform on Forrester.com.  I posted at the time that I believed aggregating Forrester's thought leadership in one place made sense and that I was eager to continue blogging, sharing news, and building my reputation within the new Forrester blog.

The reaction was swift and emotional.  Hundreds of tweets and blog posts weighed in on the topic; a few supported the new blogging policies, but most did not.  One person tweeted I was "licking the boots of (my) corporate paymasters," and a friend sent an email with heartfelt condolences at the loss of my blog.  I ignored the tweet and assured my friend that I was not progressing through any of the stages of grief (unless bemusement was one of those stages.)

The reaction was interesting on several levels.  First of all, there seemed to be a knee-jerk backlash to the very concept of corporate rules for social media. The idea that corporate policies don't have a place in social media is patently ridiculous and ignores the responsibility companies have to protect against legal, reputation and brand harm. 

Many observers made rather wild assumptions about the intent of the new policy, drawing incorrect conclusions that analysts posting to the new Forrester platform would no longer be free to share their thoughts without constraint.  This is also silly--how could it possibly benefit Forrester to restrain analysis, dialog and thought leadership?  Those are the very things that create value, demand and differentiation for Forrester's services.

Lastly, there were detractors who implied Forrester's actions were designed to undermine analysts' abilities to build their brands and reputation.  I find this accusation lacking for reasons far greater than that I still have my own blog with my own name and my own thoughts.  In fact, I was particularly bothered by this argument because of what it implied:  That my reputation, personal brand and value were inexorably bound to an Internet domain.

To paraphrase the movie "The Elephant Man," I am not a URL; I am a human being! Wherever I go in life, my experience, knowledge, reputation, abilities, value, and personal brand go with me.  "Experience: The Blog" doesn't contain Augie Ray; I contain it.  And later this week when I meet with a Fortune 100 organization to discuss their social media opportunities, it won't be my Twitter feed or domain address they care about but my ability to consider their situation, analyze the research conducted by Forrester, and draw insights and recommendations that drive their business.

My blog has not come to the end of the road;  it's just changing lanes.  If you subscribed to "Experience: The Blog" I invite you to join me at Augie Ray's Blog for Interactive Marketers (or subscribe to my blog's RSS feed).  I hope to see you at the new URL and (as always) welcome your comments, feedback, criticisms and ideas.

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