The increasing popularity of social media has many companies shivering. The apprehension stems from a lack of knowledge of how this new technology-based movement works and the steps to participate and control it. When you think of a blog, it’s really just an extension of daily conversation over the water cooler from times past. They are simply online diaries of events, thoughts, and opinions on a variety of topics. With 60 million blogs out there today, they have become a mainstream communications tool that need to be addressed. If done well, they can be a very powerful marketing tool and a large part of your integrated marketing campaign.

Here are some common corporate perceptions about blogs and some new perspectives.

Fear #1: Loss of control

Many companies panic over blogs because of the lack of message management as compared to traditional communications vehicles. The perception is that the past approach provided the ability for better control. What is forgotten is that blogs provide an immediate conversation with customers, often revealing their emotions about your company, products and services. If you do blog, be prepared that all emotion expressed may not be positive, but dialogue will always be valuable.

Solution: Make your blogs a network of involved consumers

Blogs portray hip companies “keeping up” with market changes and allowing their customers to have a say. There can be some potential negative consequences to having a blog, especially when linked directly to companies’ home pages, but overall, the impact will be positive if companies have a vehicle where they can respond to customer concerns, thereby treating customers like the important partners they are. This will become a place for loyal brand evangelists…and we all know that potential customers love and trust what past product users have to say!

Fear #2: Turning off bloggers with self-indulgence

Business owners are usually their company’s number one fan. Utilizing a company blog to promote your “greatness,” or that of your product or service, deters bloggers from visiting your site. Although the loyal customer may still buy the product, overindulgent blogs tend to have a higher level of bloggers posting negative comments.

Solution: Create and maintain a resourceful discussion board

Blogs are for the bloggers. Provide them with valuable inside knowledge regarding topics relating to your industry, but don’t wax poetic. Even if they aren’t customers yet, the creation and maintenance of an insightful and interesting blog increases your chances to win bloggers over as new-found customers. Knowledge is power, not annoying attempts at self-promotion. Give bloggers the credit they deserve.

Fear #3: Being embarrassed by company bloggers

First amendment says individuals have the right to free speech, so companies can’t control what bloggers may post.

Solution: None

Take your chances and run the risk. Having a blog tells the community and your customer base that “you’re listening,” that you’re “embracing the way they want to communicate,” and that you want to share insight and enlighten them about important industry topics. Check the blog regularly and take the comments for what they are worth” valuable knowledge about how others see your company, product or service.