Here are some more thoughts I have written on the concept of network building, adapted from Blogging Planet.
Determining the business benefit of blogs, wikis, RSS and other new communication channels requires a clear understanding of the nature and value of links and connections.
Simply put, the more links one can facilitate among your audience and then generate from that audience to your organization, the more value you will accrue from this web of connections. Put another way, it is the medium -- the network you build -- that matters, not the message -- the content.
The traditional practices of marketing, public relations, advertising, investor relations, community relations, employee relations and crisis management have all been driven by the production of polished content.
The question of content is one of the major barriers to adoption for blogging and other new communications tools, as people ask:
- What shall I write about?
- What can't I write about?
- What are others writing about my company?
- How can I stop them?
We believe that this focus on content is preventing people from seeing the more important issue: the value derived through the creation, maintenance and use of a powerful network of ongoing conversations amongst the widest possible audience, all leading in one form or another back to your organization.
Pure content is losing its importance as a driver of business value.
As new tools such as blogs enable everyone to become a publisher, the resulting glut of information drives down the value of content from any individual source. Furthermore, it is easy for any organization's message to become lost in this sea of information.
What's important is how content links to other content: Within the organization or elsewhere. For example, as more content becomes more linked to your organization, the likelihood of higher search engine ranking increases. Higher search engine ranking is one of the most important ways in which your content gains greater customer credibility and helps build greater trust in you.
Building the networks of connections organizations need...
...requires a deliberate weakening of traditional boundaries within and outside of businesses, encouraging exchange of ideas and information in a multidirectional fashion among the widest possible range of constituencies: employees, partners, customers, suppliers, investors, communities, and so on.
The key to success is scale: the more links the better.