Earlier today, in our Strategic Management of Intellectual Property class at Melbourne Business School, we talked about Rick Frenkel of the Patent Troll Tracker blog fame. We were discussing non-practicing IP-holding entities (or, less politely, patent trolls) in reference to the case we were doing on Rambus (on which our professor Duncan Bucknell maintains an IP scorecard) which is why the issue came up.
CNET's Anne Broache recently covered the Frenkel story as well, but from the point of view of corporate blogging -- which, of course, is also my primary point of view. It's a good article that talks about corporate blogging policies which, as expected, most companies don't have (see also Jason Harris' open thread on Web Worker Daily: Does Your Company Have a Blogging Policy?).
I particularly like this bit in the Broache's article:
Any company that decides to adopt blogging policies should keep them short, clear, and to-the-point, said Howell, the online communications lawyer.
That point is sometimes so obvious that people forget it (which is why I've repeated it here).
Corporate Social Media
This discussion on the lack of blogging policies is a good follow up to my earlier post on marketers not 'getting' social media. It's a good follow up because corporations are having an even harder time with social media which is still in its very early adoption stage in the enterprise. That might seem like a generalization but compare the use of social media in the enterprise to the use of electronic communication tools like e-mail and instant messaging, which are now stock standard, and collaboration tools like intranet portals and document management systems, which are still relatively new.
Like marketers, corporations don't have a good handle on social media -- though both understand it's importance, particularly in the near future. Corporations, for example, know that social media will revolutionize things the way e-mail did so many years ago...they just don't quite know how (and they're really hoping it's not soon!).
The issue for them is of control. E-mails you can run through a corporate server, block, delete, monitor, save, use as legally binding, and, ultimately, make sense of very quickly. Social media is much less controllable, is scarily empowering for employees, and is very hard to get a handle on.
Some of them are trying to get and/or embrace, though, and having a blogging policy -- or explicitly not having one -- is a good start.
[For completeness' sake: For marketers the issue is partly about control -- they're no longer the only ones talking -- and partly about the inability or the un-preparedness on their part to listen to consumers on the consumers' terms. More on that in a later blog post. For now, though, let me just say that marketers have a much better handle on social media than corporations do. That said, marketers' proficiency with social media is still low when compared to their proficiency in using the other marketing tools in their bag.]