Dave Taylor has been involved with the online world since 1980 and
is recognized globally as an expert on both technical and business
issues. He has been published over a thousand times, launched four Internet-related
startup companies, has written twenty business and technical books and holds both an MBA and MS Ed.
He's a columnist for the Boulder Daily Camera and
Linux Journal and frequently appears
in other publications both online and in print.
Additionally, Dave maintains four weblogs:
The Business Blog at Intuitive.com,
Ask Dave Taylor,
Dave On Film,
Based in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, Dave is an award-winning speaker, sought after conference and workshop participant and
frequent guest on radio and podcast programs, as well as active member of
his community and busy single father to three children.
Are character blogs fundamentally a bad idea or just inherently boring?
The latest incarnation of this debate in the business blog community revolves around the Def Perception weblog written, ostensibly, by someone named Tosh Bilowski on behalf of Panasonic Corporation. The tag line of the blog reads "Tosh Bilowski focuses on high-def pro video - brought to you by Panasonic."
So far, the blog community seems to be enjoying some detective work (see for example Amy Gahran's article Who Is Tosh Bilowski: Corporate Blogs and Authenticity) and engaging in its typical criticism of any corporations trying to do something new with weblogs, at least in my opinion.
But I want to bring this topic to the business blogging crowd because I suggest instead that Panasonic deserves some significant credit for having the courage to try something new and interesting. Yes, a quick Google of "Tosh Bilowski" reveals zero matches, which seems darn curious for someone who is a blogger, but I don't think that's really so important. Indeed, for Global PR Blog Week II I wrote an article on this very subject, entitled Fake Blogs: New Marketing Channel or Really Bad Idea?
In that article, I wrote:
"There's no reason why a fake blog cannot be interesting, amusing and informative, while also having the desirous blog characteristics of credibility and authenticity within the context of the blog itself. Indeed, I don't even like the pejorative "fake blog", so let's call it a "story blog" instead, to emphasize that everything about the weblog, from its premise and entries to the very persona of the author, are part of the fiction, of the story being told."
I then observe that: "the real reason that story blogs aren't better and therefore more popular is because it's just darn hard to produce material week after week as a fictitious character."
That's the fundamental problem with the "Tosh Bilowski" weblog effort from Panasonic and its PR agency in my eyes, not that it's "fake" or that they've pretty clearly created a fictional 'video geek' to write about their product line, but that it's just boring and unengaging.
Even when "Tosh" acknowledges that there's some controversy about the blog (as he does in the entry Oh Brother, Who Art Thou?) he doesn't link to anyone, doesn't acknowledge the controversy and doesn't have anything interesting to say.
So I remain convinced that there's an opportunity for companies to create "story blogs" that are interesting, compelling and effective at selling their products, but am still waiting to see an example of what this could be and how this could be done well. My kudos to Panasonic for making the attempt to further push the blogging envelope, but they need to find a better agency or blogger to work with. "Tosh" just isn't going to make any headway in gaining visibility for their product line in the blogosphere.
Before you leave a comment, a tip: If you're interested in blogging, you should sign up for my Blogsmart News so you can stay up to date
on the latest insider tips and ideas for your Internet business and marketing
efforts. Sign up right now and you'll get a free copy
of my "Insider's Guide to Blogging" ebook too!