Blogs are primary social media tools of social presence. From the purpose they serve, there are three types of blogs: Blogs that act as conversation starters, conversation builders, and conversation enders.
Conversation Starters: As you had guessed, they introduce new angle to discussion, and as such create new, unique “threads”. For instance, we created a blog for a HR company on how Warren Buffet is going to hire his successor with a title: “Value hiring”. It introduced a new thread, angle very different from the market conversation.
Conversation Builders: These type of blogs do build on ideas that are supplied by others. They endorse the ideas but could add some more additional inputs, data, etc, that primarily grouped under the original thread.
Conversation Enders: Such blogs try to provide a sum-up that kind of ends the conversation, qualitatively – even if not quantitatively.
Corporates such as Starbucks, Intel, etc engage contributors from outside to create blogs, social media releases, etc. Starbucks calls them idea partners, and Intel as Intel Insiders. Taking the brand names away, they can be called “facilitators”. And there is a title for internal co-ordinators too. We can call them blog owners. Both of them – facilitators and owners – would be responsible for the entire social media conversation lifecycle: from idea generation, content development to moderation of comments, etc.
Facilitators, the external contributors, need to be: 1) great communicators, 2) domain experts, and 3) should be passionate about the cause of the community the company is trying to build.
Professor Venkat Ramaswamy, Co-Author, The Power of Co-Creation, pointing to the co-creation success of Starbucks, says that through My Starbucks Idea, Starbucks had generated over 88,000 ideas and implemented about 58 of them, between 2008 and 2009.
According to him “Starbucks has been successful because it has dedicated employees called Idea Partners who carry and champion the reviewed and chosen ideas inside the organization, providing “feedback on feedback” (i.e. replying to and discussing suggestions) and having a continuous conversation with customers.
In his article he cites a specific case: For example, a Starbucks Idea Partner Katie Thomson, a registered dietician and senior nutritionist at Starbucks, engaged in dialogue not only with the customer community on the new food offerings they wanted, but also with the company’s supply chain on ingredient changes that were not only about healthier options but also “aroma reducing”, so as not to interfere with the smell of coffee and detract from the Starbucks brand’s core “coffeehouse experience” which it was trying to reinvigorate at the same time.
By also using the same platform to spur dialogue internally (just like on the supplier side), Starbucks has been able to engage other “functions” inside the organization, connecting them with external customer insights, as well as those from baristas in its stores who are also encouraged to participate in problem solving implementation challenges.”