Special Report Web Marketing New, Usable Web Marketing Ap
Blogs and podcasts are a great way to do that. You get interesting people together, get them talking, and people who are interested in that topic or those people will want to know about it. Also there's a lot of blogs that don't see much action, that is, they're not updated as often as they should be. One of the ways we've dealt with that, for example, is we have a blog called O'Reilly Radar, and we have five people, some within our company and some who are just associated with us in some way or another, who post to that. Even though the volume there is lower than it should be, it still has a lot of people subscribing to its RSS feed because it's really interesting people with interesting perspectives.
CS: Do you have a sense for how much of your audience is accessing the blogs or the podcasts?
Noren: Our audience is really on the cutting edge and is much more comfortable with RSS and blogs than a lot of consumers. So there's a certain amount of necessary education that needs to go into any program involving RSS and blogs. You have to tell your customers what RSS is, what an RSS reader is and how to use it, and you need to suggest some RSS readers, because some are free and some aren't. You've got to let your customers know what it is, because a lot of people, especially a consumer audience, really don't have any idea. Or if they do have an idea, they don't know how to start using it.
CS: How have you approached the concept of blog posts; that is, letting your customers talk back and respond to what you've put on your site?
Winge: You take a risk when letting your customers speak. If you have a blog, you have to decide whether or not to keep comments turned on. Having forums is a great way to let customers create some of the buzz for your products themselves. The risk is that sometimes people are going to be unhappy. So as a company, you have to decide if you're going to let them express their unhappiness and how you're going to react when they do. We've found that actually serves us well, but that idea freaks a lot of people out.