Microsoft’s opportunity post-Scoble

Some of the blogosphere commentary following Robert Scoble’s news that he is leaving Microsoft to join Podtech in July is on who will be the next Scoble at Microsoft.

If such a question refers to someone taking on the same or a similar blogger/evangelist role as Robert’s, I don’t think there will be a ‘next Scoble.’

As Microsoft’s most prominent, visible and, yes, famous employee blogger, Robert developed his Scobleizer blog and the tag “Microsoft geek blogger”into a major brand, one that is consistently high up in the popular blogs list at Technorati (currently at number 22) and often mentioned in mainstream media reporting. That blog-brand goes with him to Podtech.

The blog is a vehicle for Robert to articulate his thoughts about many topics including opinion about Microsoft. That it has been an effective communication channel for him almost goes without saying. Like employees in many organizations, though, Robert’s job isn’t as a full-time blogger. His primary role is that of making videos for the Channel 9 website, breaking through barriers and jumping hurdles in the Microsoft organization to get to people to interview them. So perhaps a more significant question might be who will fill Robert’s shoes in that role?

But staying with blogging for a second, a post last night on the Mini Microsoft blog includes this comment:

[…] It will be interesting to see where the future of Microsoft blogging goes now. There’s a certain amount of openness and honesty and vulnerability in the best writing, let alone blogging, that you just can’t fake, and those that try are going to get ripped to shreds.

It’s a good point. One of the keys to building relationships via a blog is the writer’s personality, style of writing and many others factors relating to the writer. Robert is Robert so anyone else at Microsoft who wishes to emulate him will have to build his or her reputation on their own credentials.

In any event, I wonder whether this change doesn’t present Microsoft with an interesting oppportunity to try and marshall the collective personality of the other 3,000 or so employee bloggers into a coherent ‘communication commons’ for Microsoft.

I can just hear the objections to that idea! Blogging is personal! This idea stinks of corporate spin and control!

Not at all – if it’s done the right way. Corporate communication is changing and the idea of any large organization continuing to regard employee blogging as a self-organized hobbyist type of activity makes little business sense at all.

I’m thinking of Microsoft proactively encouraging people, perhaps in a similar fashion to IBM’s initiatives with employees and social media where those initiatives provide signficant freedoms for employees within a clear and business-focused framework.

It’s been said before that Microsoft has little or no formal guidelines for their employee bloggers. Perhaps the time is now to formally establish such guidelines on a wide scale, what I’d prefer to call best practices.

If you believe as I do that employee blogging in many organizations will become as common as email, then now is the time for Microsoft to start with establishing best practices that provide every employee with the opportunity to speak.

Meanwhile, Robert, good luck as you start the next chapter in your life.

Related post:

  • FIR podcast #145 yesterday includes commentary about Robert Scoble’s move from Microsoft. Starts at about 4:17 into the show.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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