Friday, May 05, 2006

Organizational Communication Imperatives and Corporate Blogging, by Leah Hyland

Context for this post

Organizational identification is one of the greatest organizational imperatives that informs the practice of corporate blogging. Identification is "an attitude or incipient action," and identification means that a person tries to select a decision that matches or fits with the interest of the organization (Tompkins, 2005). When the employee identity is aligned so much with the organization that they begin to speak about the organization as "we" instead of "they," s/he has a high level of organizational identification (Feather and Rauter, 2004). This concept is essential when a company decides to blog for many reasons. The organization must make sure to choose the right people to blog because it will affect the readership, the success, and the outreach capabilities of the blog on the blogosphere. This ripple effect will not occur if companies do not consider organizational identification when deciding to blog.

If a person were going to be the face of a company, typically the company would want the person to be a good representation of their organization. When blogging, the employee who actually blogs is the first point of contact to readers, and this makes deciding who is going to blog very important. One should choose someone who identifies with the company and its goals and visions, in order to have the appropriate appearance to the public. If the blogger does not care about the company, how can s/he be expected to care about the blog, and its content? Most likely, the blogger will not post relevant or meaningful information, which will eventually affect the company and how the public perceives it. The face of the organization must emulate the ideals of the company and choosing someone strongly connected will ultimately be in the organization's best interest.

The blogger that identifies with the company will care and contribute to that organization and thus the blog. Therefore posts will be more pertinent, and generate richer content. Since the content will be relevant, the readers will appreciate the blog more. If they see a caring and consistent blogger who posts thoughtful things about the organization (or whatever pertains to the purpose of the blog) readers will visit often and probably add comments to the organization's blog, or their own blog. In turn, this will create a sort of community around the blogger and his/her audience, which will benefit the company.

Since the blogger has strong organizational identification, and has now created an active public through posting, and commenting, and outreach, the public itself may begin to show signs of identification with the organization. Due to the personable nature of a blog, the readers will develop a sort of relationship with the blogger and therefore the company. This is one of the greatest strengths of a blog: it creates ambassadors for the organization. These people will typically promote and buy products of the company because they believe in the blog!

A ripple effect has now occurred, beginning with company's choosing a blogger that is strongly identified with the organization. This blogger has created a blog that is interesting and relevant to the company and the public/consumers. The public will then continue to monitor and comment on the blog, which creates a community around the organization. This community will inevitably become identified with the company as well, creating ambassadors and goodwill for the organization. All these effects would not be possible if the corporate blogger was not identified with the organization s/he worked for.

*On an aside, I would be curious to know if CEO blogs are any more successful than "lower-level" employee blogsā€”is being higher up in the organization chart correlated with how strongly identified you are??

Works Cited

Feather, N. T. & Rauter, K.A. (2004). Organizational citizenship behaviours in relation to job status, job insecurity, organizational commitment and identification, job satisfaction and work values [Electronic version]. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77, 81-95.

Tompkins, P. (2005). Apollo, Challenger, Columbia--the decline of the space program: a study in organizational communication. Los Angeles: Roxbury.

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