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Forum: Corporate blogging in Pakistan

o Rabia Garib
02.09.2008 kl 18:33 |

While there is no question about what the future of blogging is, there is a great deal of skepticism about the trend of Corporate Blogging. Defined by Wikipedia as a weblog published and used by an organization to reach its organizational goals, corporate blogging around the globe covers the space where the influential bloggers are approached by or have a bias towards, a specific company, and end up having more impact with a review or citation, than the company's own PR.

 

While there is no question about what the future of blogging is, there is a great deal of skepticism about the trend of Corporate Blogging. Defined by Wikipedia as a weblog published and used by an organization to reach its organizational goals, corporate blogging around the globe covers the space where the influential bloggers are approached by or have a bias towards, a specific company, and end up having more impact with a review or citation, than the company's own PR.

Considering Pakistan's blogosphere has experienced a great deal of growth, what do some of the bloggers have to say about the trends revolving around Corporate Blogging?

Dr. Awab Alvi, alias TeethMaestro, an online social activist and captain of Karachi Metblogs, comments, "I see blogging having a very bright future - I think we all see it that way, it starts off maybe like a fun game, but it grows on you." But is there really any serious attitude associated with blogging? "Well," continues TeethMaestro, "Pakistan has barely embarked down the path of New Media. I interacted with executives at a Google workshop in Karachi a few months ago. Of the 100 people there, only about 10 were actively engaged in maintaining an online presence."

Is there dearth of content or understanding on how to execute that content? Tee Emm, one of the pioneers of blogging in the country says, "In my opinion, 'good content blogs' are limited in number in the local blogosphere. However, there are two things to be noted here: one, the best, natural blog comes not out of a good blogger but someone who is engaged in some activity that needs to be talked about. Secondly, I also feel that we don't have enough genuine work being done locally on which corporate companies can really blog about. Consider P&G International blogging about their latest research in toothpaste technology - the have the beef to talk about. Now consider P&G Pakistan and you have to ask the question as to whether they really have enough to blog about!"

Faisal Kapadia, assistant editor at Agahi and a blogger on Karachi Metroblogs, writes, "Pakistani Bloggers don't seem to generate enough traffic to make it feasible for a marketing agency to hire them on a hit-per-rupee ratio." The argument that there just isn't enough local traffic around to make these activities worth it, is becoming a painfully recurring theme in a lot of the new media initiatives that companies are trying to opt for. Faisal continues, "If TeethMaestro's blog gets 2500-3000 hits a day, can you imagine what the rest are left with? I get about 400 visitors on my personal blog on a good day so I doubt a marketing company is going to hire me to blog about them."

But these comments just don't add up. If there isn't as much traffic growing online, then why the rapid increase in the number of Web2.0-enabled websites, portals and communities which have sprung in the past 12 months? TeethMaestro explains, "Obviously most of this has to do with the fact that internet use in this country is still very very low. There are still major businesses in Karachi which operate on faxes and have not made the transition to email as yet. They simply do not trust the internet. Secondly, of the people that use the internet, most do it for, shall we just say, fickle purposes? It's rather ironic that in our country, one of the most searched-for-terms is 'paris hilton'."

There is still no consensus on what the internet penetration in Pakistan. Without any unbiased, third-party survey in place, we seem to be stuck at a figure 7% penetration. Granted that GPRS and WiMAX access points don't fit into this assumptive figure, but until there is a verifiable number, how can the prospect be presented to the corporation to attract their investment of time, money or content? Until and unless internet penetration in Pakistan goes up, executives in Pakistan will still cater to the 93% of the market through traditional means and perhaps rightfully so.

But innovation! Is there no role for innovation and sustainability? Tee Emm says, "My theory says that to blog on a corporate level, you must be at the top of the value chain, inventing, creating and devising new stuff all the time. Google is a great example. They do something great and they have tons of stuff to blog about on almost a daily basis. By the same token, NGOs, schools, genuine local brands and music bands do innovate and create all the time. Those are the people who have access to create fresh content all the time and these are the guys that should be taking up blogging as a full time career." The bottom of the pyramid approach is it?

Commenting on the access and integrity of content, Faisal says, "As internet usage grows and perhaps through the use of GPRS on cell phones, rural areas will be able to afford a cell phone rather than a pc and blogging will become the rage. However in order to go mainstream, we need both attention and integrity - too many bloggers today just take the days news and do a rehash of it. The aim is not to provide original content but to fill up space."

TeethMaestro further indulges in the traffic rant saying, "My blog records an average of about 3000 visitors a day. 38% of the traffic is generated from the US and only 25% originates from Pakistan. Is it worth for a company to spend an arm and a leg (or a tooth) for 25% or 625 people coming into my online blog? Maybe not. Until that ROI doesn't figure itself out, I think the executives are probably right to focus their work on the mainstream, off-line market."

Awab continues, "I believe the internet penetration has surely gone up since the 3-year old report which quoted the 7% - so technically as the internet penetration increases, there will be more opportunities for bloggers to make headway into corporate culture. The headway into corporate culture is about to begin and I think within the next year we should see more marketers engaging bloggers like us to push their goods. But all depends on the internet penetration in Pakistan which is directly related to education in Pakistan - I don't see the education problem disappearing anytime soon, so at best, I'd predict that we might have a maximum increase of 20-25% penetration over the next 5-10 years. That's still a huge market and predominately located in urban areas of Pakistan."

Faisal continues, "Like any niche market to take off Blogging needs corporate attention and this shift is starting to happen. Major newspapers have their own blogs and many television channels will follow suit. Major media companies and newspapers get traffic in the range of 40,000 hits a day which is still paltry when compared to the rest of the world but big for Pakistan. That kind of attention and exposure can really help things going."

Most executives that are in the position of making the decision to GoToBlog, aren't exposed to the power and reach of what blogging offers to a brand or company. These are the main stream executives (read decision-makers!) still haven't heard about next generation marketing. Awab explains, "Fresh MBA grads have experienced the virtual media as users hence they have a little more knowledge on what a blog is, but their level of experience is still a far cry away from implementing a corporate agenda."

According to Faisal, it's going to take a lot more time for Blogging to really take off in Pakistan. "Take Bollywood Actor/Director Aamir Khan's blog as an example. He gets 4000 comments for every post he makes, but then, he drives the traffic to the site because he has the content and the following. It won't be long before some rock band manager comes up with an online blog for a famous band like Strings which could generate a whole lot of attention. In other words, Pakistan's Blogosphere needs the spotlight on it."

As a CIO looking for avenues to reach out to your company's audience more effectively and proactively, the message repeated throughout the forum discussion is this: you have to know your technology and understand the platform. That's all there is to it. The trend of corporate blogging won't increase or catch on if you don't allow it to grow.

Keywords: Internet  IT Management  
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