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CEO Bloggers Getting Personal, When is it OK?


Where should CEO bloggers or business bloggers draw the line when revealing personal information? This question recently created some “hub bub” over at the Jobster blog when CEO, Jason Goldberg wrote a post about the music on his ipod.

Jason found it interesting too, so in the midst of the kafuffle, he conducted his own poll of his readres which asked “What should a CEO blog be?”. The resuts showed the majority believed that a CEO blog “Should be whatever the CEO-writer wants it to be” and “Express the CEO’s personality”.

There are so many cool aspects of this little situation. The first thing that I would like to point out is how savvy I think Jason is in the way he used social media to not only share conversations with his audience but engage with a quick poll to continue the discussion.

In a follow-up post, Jason commented that “it’s important that a CEO’s blog reflect the CEO’s personality, but at same time it is also important that such a blog maintain a level of professionalism.” I definitely agree with that.

Here’s a metaphor / exercise that might be helpful in understanding how you can achieve your goal in creating deeper connections with your audience without harming your business or loosing respect from the customers and stake holders that depend on you.

I’ve never been on a cruise ship, but I watched The Love Boat enough to know that it’s customary for the captain of the ship to dine with the ships guests almost every night. It’s an honor for the guests, and an opportunity for the captain to meet and connect with the people he’s responsible for carrying safety and enjoyably from port to port.

When the captain sits down for dinner with passenger guests, is it ok to bring up what’s on his ipod or his favorite food websites? I think it would enhance the guest’s experience to hear some personal tidbits about the captain that are not on the resume.

Actually, I think it would be a rather dull dinner if the conversation was confined to ship related topics. However, as a passenger, crew or cruise line stakeholder, I would expect the captain to maintain a certain level of decorum that is consistent with the business’s brand culture, and have the discretion not to make the guests or crew uncomfortable or insecure with him being at the helm.

Now the practical folks out there are probably thinking that it makes sense for a captain to have dinner with the guests and to get a little chatty, but why should a company CEO take the risk of rocking the boat? How does this chitchat translate into a CEO enhancing a company’s bottom line? Think of the special guests at the dinner table as people who can influence your target audience’s perception and goodwill towards the company.

This intimate experience of breaking bread, connecting on various levels enables the CEO to probe his audience for common ground. It’s relationship building 101, it puts the guests at ease, and provides the captain with valuable insight into how to make his guest’s experience even better while on board.

The internet has broken down barriers and empowered the world to connect, but it has also made it all too easy to keep our distance. A number of companies and CEOs have started blogging. What I find most exciting about blogging are the far reaching aspects for positive business impact. A genuine corporate blog or CEO blog can provide so many practical benefits for both the company and audience.

  1. Blogs can enable people from companies to connect on a more human level with their audience without having to physically be in the same room or even be conversing at the same time.
  2. The time and effort that goes into facilitating this dialog can be leveraged to provide a number of additional business benefits such as, rapid communications, thought leadership, brand awareness, pr, higher search engines rankings, traffic and ultimately business leads.

One of the basic rules of marketing is you can’t be all things to all people. There’s plenty of room on the company website for corporate speak. Letting the true personality come through is part of what makes a blog credible. The more editorial review a blog post has the worse it’s going to be.

Some readers will like it and some won’t. The art is in knowing your audience. Jason’s blog is a great example of a blog that shares and listens to readers. I think Jason intuitively knows that the core of his audience appreciates the personal nature of his commentary and observations. But he also takes the time to use surveys to prove it. To some, his sharing may seem out of context, but I believe he’s really saying, I care about you therefore I want to share something with you and hear what you think.

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