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'Naked Conversations' author Scoble offers advice on effective blogging

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It's said that if you want to know how to succeed at something, you go to the guy who wrote the book. For advice on blogging, BtoB went to one of the guys who wrote one of the books, Robert Scoble.

Scoble gained prominence writing his Scobleizer blog as a technical evangelist for Microsoft Corp. With Shel Israel, he co-authored "Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk With Customers." Today, Scoble is VP- media development at PodTech.net. And he continues to write Scobleizer.

BtoB: What advice do you have for a company that is just getting started with a blogging initiative?

Scoble: The first thing I recommend companies do is use blog search tools like Technorati or Google Blog Search. Watch for what people are saying about you. Just listen and see what they are doing. Then look to see what communities they link to. If they are talking about you, do what you would do if you were at a cocktail party, and listen for a bit. Then you can say, `Hey, I'm that guy. Let's talk.' The power of this new medium is that it's a two-way medium, and it's a way to have a real conversation.

BtoB: Who would you listen to?

Scoble: Companies have to recognize that anyone with a blog can have an impact, because other blogs may link to what that person says and a single post can gain worldwide exposure. Pay attention to that kid in Australia with just five readers. People don't understand the power of that kid.

When I decided to leave Microsoft I told about eight people at a conference, and I asked them not to say anything until Tuesday. Someone, I don't even know who, leaked the news. Within 72 hours I had 50 million impressions and coverage in 140 newspapers.

BtoB: How can a company develop different strategies for blogs by top executives and their engineers?

Scoble: Think of Times Square with all those flashy signs. Nothing in those signs tells you anything about the products they are advertising. It's just about getting the company's brand out. If I'm buying a digital camera, I want to talk to the engineers at Sony or Canon [about features and functions]. In the old days I could never talk to that person. There was no way to even find out who they were. If I want to see the big picture in terms of what the company is doing, I can hear from the executives, even though they won't know the level of detail that I want to know about the product.

BtoB: What do you learn from people who respond to your posts?

Scoble: I always fix any mistakes people point out in my blog. What most people don't understand unless they have a blog is that the audience is smarter than you. Even if there are only 100 people in the audience, they are going to be smarter than you collectively.

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