Ah, the CEO Blog. Such the conundrum. A great opportunity...here is a means for an organization's leader to connect and communicate directly with the market. At the same time, a great challenge...if done poorly, a CEO Blog can be worse than doing nothing. Such interesting times, no?
Although commonly called a "CEO Blog," the name itself is a bit of a misnomer. Although a CEO Blog is oftentimes written by the chief executive of an organization, the name has been co-opted a bit and now commonly refers to a business blog that is written by any high-level executive of an organization. Heck, even BusinessWeek gets it right: "Execs are finding blogs useful for plugging not just their products, but their points of view."
As in any other medium, there are differing takes on what topics are appropriate for a CEO Blog. There are some who take issue with a CEO Blog when it is injected with humanity. (My two cents...if a blog is going to be a medium of conversation, then it absolutely needs to enable a personality to show through, as long as the blog doesn't become an exercise in pure narcissism.)
The real power of the CEO Blog, however, is that it can be a strong -- and perhaps the supreme -- means of differentiation for an organzation. Ultimately, products commoditize and best practices can be copied. The only real differentiators that are sustainable are the connections that form between members of an organzation and customers. The CEO Blog is an opportunity for the individuals who are guiding the ship to make these connections, and to make them real.
No, the CEO isn't going to have the opportunity to connect directly with every customer, but that's not the point. The point is: when an opportunity arises, if the leadership is accustomed to engaging in real conversations with real people, those leaders can make the most of a situation (more on this here and here).
"CEO Blog" example #1
Blogger: Bob Lutz
Role: Vice Chairman
Blog Location: http://fastlane.gmblogs.com
What's right: "As I said before we appreciate all of the comments... positive and critical, keep 'em coming. I would love to address more of them directly if there were more hours in the day. Every so often, however, a comment cries out for a response so loudly that I have to put thumbs to Blackberry."
"CEO Blog" example #2
Blogger: Bob Parsons
Role: Founder and President
Blog Location: http://www.bobparsons.com
What's right: "As I write this, I am now 54 years old, and during my life thus far I suspect that I’ve encountered more significant life events than most people ever dream about. Here’s some information about me: I grew up in a lower middle class family in Baltimore’s inner city. We were always broke. I’ve earned everything I ever received. Very little was ever given to me. I’ve been working as long as I can remember. Whether it was delivering or selling newspapers, pumping gas, working in construction or in a factory, I’ve always been making my own money."
"CEO Blog" anti-example #1 - Don't do this!
Blogger: Peter Zencke
Role: Board Member
Blog Location: http://www.sap.com/community/pub/blogs.epx
What's wrong: "To access this page or item, you must log in to SAP.com. If you are an SAP.com member, please log in by entering your e-mail address or user name, and password." That, and the fact that the last time that Zencke posted was in October, 2004, on the scintillating topic of "Translating Ideas Into Marketable Solutions." Wieux-hieux.