ROI of Blogging: Cisco’s Social Media Program

14 June, 2008 | | No Comment

Figuring out the ROI of bloggging has become my quest for the Holy Grail as I try to educate my company. But the best part about working in social media is how open and helpful everyone is. We’re all on the same boat, being tossed violently in a perfect storm. But everyone is willing to share their lifeboat (in this metaphor, information = lifeboat.) The New Media team at Cisco is no exception in this generosity.

Cisco’s New Media program started out as a grass-roots effort in late 2005 with two people working part time on it: Amy Paquette and Jeanette Gibson. When I first did research on blog programs in October 2005, Cisco had nothing. zippo. nada. And then A year and half later, their director of New Media (Jeannette) is presenting at Web 2.0 in April 2007. Through various modes of online stalking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) I managed to connect with Jeannette. I even modeled my own title after hers (“New Media”).

Here is a great story from Cisco that illustrates the value of blogging:

In Jan 2007 Cisco engaged in a lawsuit with Apple on the iPhone. Cisco owned that trademark. The lawsuit was public and there were a lot of questions around the specifics. Mark Chandler, Cisco’s SVP and General Counsel posted JUST THE FACTS around the lawsuit (he was probably tired of all those phone calls.) It was not conversational in tone, just factual. They “just wanted to get it out there.”

In one day his post got 77,000 hits and got 344 comments.

Out of 344 comments, the sentiment was a 60 / 40 split between Apple and Cisco. (Which is surprising, considering Apple’s rabid fan base.) People expressed their support of Cisco protecting their trademark. Now, I want you to take a minute and think about the corparate legal folks you know. How many of them would take this kind of risk and post the facts of a lawsuit on a blog? Yeah, that’s what I thought. So, ya gotta hand it to Mark Chandler for putting it out there.

(This reminds me of another great “controversial” post on Yahoo’s corporate blog: the day Yahoo turned down the Microsoft Deal. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.)

Chandler’s post around the iPhone proved to Cisco that a blog can be a great way to disseminate information. This was the first time that a blog had actually helped with Cisco’s PR efforts. It is not surprising that after this event, Cisco’s blog program really took off in 2007.

The icing on the cake is this great commentary on around Chandler’s blog post:

From Jan. 10 2007

“It’ll be interesting to see how this all turns out given the transparency Cisco is approaching this situation with, and Apple’s notorious secretive nature.”

— Scott McNulty (“The unofficial Apple Weblog”)

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