Saturday, March 10, 2007

Business and Blogs: Experimental Results

Well, in a previous posting an experiment to see the extent that large business entities scan blogs was announced. The basic premise was to post a list of the top 200 companies from the Fortune 500 on an otherwise 'virgin' blog and then track the hits.

The first phase of this experiment has now been completed and, quite frankly, the initial results are a little bit disappointing.

The first hit came from GCI, an Alaskan telephone and Internet company. The second came from someone possibly in Australia, using Google's blog search tool, looking for references to the ConocoPhillips Corporation. The third hit was also fairly cryptic, but seemed to come from the BellSouth connection.

Eventually, on the fourth hit, there was something positive. It turns out that Publix Super Markets were the first company to fall for the bait. The next hit came from a division of the ITT Corporation. Initially, I thought that this was exciting, until I realised that ITT and not in the top 200 companies on the fortune 500. Who knows why this hit came in?

The next hit was more interesting. It came from a heavily disguised source (that analysis revealed was part of the Comcast system. More interestingly, the hit seemed to have had it's origin in someone using the Technorati blog search function, looking for the name 'Merrill Lynch'. It seems that the second corporation had fallen for the bait.

The next hit came from The AllState Insurance Company. This hit was not a huge surprise. When they have been mentioned on this blog, they have come visiting. Interestingly, they too appeared to be using Technorati to search blogs for their name.

The next hit was a bit more creepy. It came from Dorsey & Whitney LLC, a bunch of lawyers. God knows what they wanted. There were no corporate ambulances to chase on the page. Maybe they were searching on behalf of paranoid clients.

The next hit came from Virginia, although who, what and where it came from remained a mystery. The hit that followed though was less of a mystery. It came from the propaganda firm Fleishman-Hillard, from their Washington D.C. Office. This was similar to the next hit that came from the PR spin doctors at GolinHarris.

There was then a bizarre hit, from the Philippines. Apparently, someone over there was searching blogs for '"american electric power " location:ky'. Very strange indeed! Fortunately, this was followed by a hit from the lavatory paper magnates at Kimberly-Clark. This hit was followed by one from Kelly Services. Goodness knows why they came a calling.Perhaps they wanted to offer me some 'staffing solutions'?

The next visitor was Virginia Power outfit Dominion Resources. As they are in the 200 corporations listed, this made some sense. However, the next hit from Marshalls did not make many sense. Perhaps they wanted to offer interview clothes for the Kelly Services job interview?

There were then two further hits, one from the UK, which appeared to be from people who got lost. Finally, a hit came in from Southern California Gas Company, where somebody was again using Technorati, to search for blog references to Sempra Energy. As Sempra Energy is in the top 200 Fortune 500 companies and owns The Southern California Gas Company, this hit is not too surprising either.

It seems that a few of the top 200 of the Fortune 500 companies seem to be keeping an eye out for what is said about them on blogs. However, clearly these companies are in a minority. That being said, the fact that there were also hits from corporate PR types and lawyers, suggest that some companies may have 'outsourced' their paranoia about blogs.

Perhaps more interesting are the bizarre hits that came in. Who knows why ITT, Kelly Services, or Marshalls should take an interest.

A further set of studies will probably be undertaken in the future. For instance, it is likely that linking to corporate web sites, rather than listing names, should produce a stronger effect. We shall see!

The CP


Anonymous Jeff B. said...

I'm not surprised you saw a hit on your Fortune 500 "test" blog from our firm GolinHarris. We regularly monitor blogs for our clients (which include some of the Fortune 500), just as we do mainstream media for articles and dialogue pertaining to their brands. It's probably not a coincidence to see our domain in your logs and that of other PR firms like Fleishman. Clients hire us to communicate on their behalf and it's hard to do that without understanding what their audiences, customers and stakeholders are talking about...

I'd be interested to see what your final research suggests about total number of companies who are doing active monitoring. The fact that your test blog is new and may not have much "authority" may lower the number of visits you get, however, since some blog searchers are paying attention to blogs that have more relative authority or influence (particularly with all the splogs out there).

8:30 PM  

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