September 18, 2010

The Business of Blogging

Think the worlds of corporate culture and online communication can’t collide? Think again, says Alex Ramirez, an assistant professor in the Sprott School of Business. He’s studying the blogosphere to find out how opinions on the Internet are changing the way businesses interact with consumers.

Ramirez has long been interested in how information is shared in organizations. He realized that blogs are an increasingly popular way for people to communicate, and decided to take a closer look at those industries where blogging might be having an effect.

“One of the difficulties with blogging is that it’s often hard to identify where the voices are coming from,” explains Ramirez. “It’s important to decipher between corporate communication and independent opinion.”

One of the difficulties with blogging is that it’s hard to identify where the voices are coming from.

Ramirez’s focus quickly narrowed to the wine industry, where an emerging field of bloggers is changing the consumer landscape. Wine blogging is an equalizing platform in a sense, as it offers the same opportunities for both large and small manufacturers.

“The wine world is a good place to start because it’s a product that’s purchased mostly because of conversations people have about it,” Ramirez says, “and the market is incredibly perceptive to that dialogue.”

Once finished, Ramirez says his research should be beneficial for businesses tasked with the complicated job of creating a digital communications strategy.

“Right now, businesses may not be aware of online conversations happening about their products, but they need to create a strong presence for themselves in that environment in order to be successful,” he says.

Some companies, like Apple, are already excelling by listening to consumer ideas, Ramirez says. As a result, he predicts that more and more businesses will begin to open the lines of communication with their customers, and adapt their manufacturing decisions to fulfill wants and needs.

“The new technologies are changing the way business is done,” Ramirez says. “My job as both a researcher and teacher is to prepare both businesses and students with the skills to tackle this new reality.”

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