Thursday, April 19, 2007

Readers Sentiment on Storage Blogging

Mark wrote a retort to ex-bloggers who quit because of lack of readers, as I mentioned in my previous blog post after talking to few ex-bloggers at SNW.

In my opinion, most storage ex-bloggers tried to write for somebody else rather than for themselves. What they failed to do was to treat the readers, however few, as peers and build relationship. They just wanted to sell or show off something to their readers.

I firmly believe page hits, clicks, links and the number of readers don't count for much. What matters most is the level of interaction with readers, not only online through blog comments but also offline through emails, phone calls and face to face encounters. Differences of opinion doesn't matter, take solace in the fact that at least readers felt comfortable enough to share their opinions and express differences.

Even though directed at companies, The Cluetrain Manifesto gives advise that every storage blogger should heed:
Can you put yourself out there: say what you think in your voice, present who you really are, show what you really care about? Do you have any genuine passion to share? Can you deal with such honesty? Such exposure?
The reader sentiment, in my small sampling at SNW, about storage bloggers was very consistent. The readers expressed liking storage bloggers with personality and have one or more qualities of being opinionated, straight-shooters, analytical, passionate and even somewhat of nut-case. The blog readers in storage industry and in end-user storage community subscribe to most known storage blogs but they related to very few of them.

Actually, no corporate storage blog made the grade on building relationship with the readers, especially the readers from end-user community. The reasons for skepticism were quite varied like only covering topics aligned with the interest of their companies to when do these supposedly busy executives find time to write blog posts. Most readers wouldn't be able to differentiate most blog posts from the company marketing collateral if both were presented in same format. Some even assumed that topics and majority of content for corporate storage blogs may be generated by ghostwriters and marketing groups.

The data storage professionals who work in end-user environment also felt uncomfortable blogging about storage. The reluctance was particularly strong with ones who are involved in evaluation and design of storage solutions. They felt that the topics of interest to them like architecture, design, performance and problems are typically protected by vendors confidentiality agreement as well as fear of potential reprisal from storage vendors and their own management. My suggestion to end-users was to blog anonymously, as guest writer on other storage blogs or just feed the sources they trust, whether analysts, journalists or bloggers doesn't matter.

Hearing end-users at SNW unsolicited praising IBRIX, Isilon, 3Par, Gear6, and Acopia while thrashing products like SVC from established vendors, my advise to storage startups is to start blogging and also facilitate end-users to blog that are testing and using your product.

6 comments:

  1. Hey, just wanted to let you know I think your blog is excellent! Keep up the good work

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  2. Ouch!

    As a corporate blogger, I can attest to the fact that I don't have the luxury of ghostwriters, etc.

    And I doubt if EMC would put any of my posts in a data sheet!

    That being said, some of us corporate bloggers believe in what our companies are doing, and find a healthy measure of intellectual excitement around the new ideas.

    I do, anyway ...

    Building an interactive community with your readership takes time, and that's the limiting factor for me. I'd love to do it, but then I wouldn't be able to do my day job!

    Thanks for the commentary!

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  3. If I was worried about comments or readership levels, I'd have given up ages ago, especially considering the sarcastic comments from (now ex) colleagues!!

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  4. Tristan,

    Thanks for the encouraging words. Your and other readers feedback and suggestions for improvement are always welcome.

    Anil

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  5. Chuck,

    Corporate bloggers using ghostwriters and going thru DD by internal groups could be more about perception than the reality.

    Wouldn't you want to learn what your readers thought? What else they may have to tell you that you may not be aware of?

    IMO, if you are not able to interact with readers, then your communication is outbound only and may be missing an important component of participatory discussion. Everybody has day job, but most probably yours offer more flexibility than mine!

    At SNW, as much as it was gratifying when readers walked up to me and said "Hey I know you, you are that storage blogger." They were also instrumental in changing my opinion about certain companies, products and technologies. And it wouldn't happen without talking and listening to readers.

    Thanks for reading my rants. And hopefully one day we will meet and talk too. ;-)

    Anil

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  6. Chris,

    Keep up the good work. And don't let others distract you from what you think is right.

    BTW, if you are interested in organizing bloggers get together east side of the pond, you may want to ping conference organizers.

    Anil

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