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Investment firms aren’t known for being tech savvy. Of course top portfolio managers and stock traders use sophisticated computer modeling and tracking systems. But the financial industry overall has been slow to adopt the latest Internet technologies like podcasting and vodcasting. One brokerage firm only recently allowed advisors to communicate with clients via email.

Times are changing though. The investment industry no longer shuns new technology. It simply takes them longer than most to figure out how to effectively use it.

Financial companies make it a practice to follow behind others to see how certain systems and technologies work—or fail. The thinking being that they want others to take the risks.

Thankfully, the world has courageous early adopters who embrace new technologies—and are willingly to share their lessons learned with the rest of us.

Consider blogging.

In their book “Naked Conversations,” IT rebels Robert Scoble and Shel Israel provide a roadmap for companies to implement blogging. The book cites convincing case examples from Scoble’s groundbreaking work at Microsoft and Israel’s experience as a communications innovator. It provides a guide for corporations that want to embark and learn the rules of blogging.

After reading “Naked Conversations” I couldn’t help but wonder whether blogging could effectively fit into the financial industry. Could I convince clients to use blogging as another communications tool that would build more effective relationships at a fraction of the cost? It certainly would be challenging.

Consider that the traditional press release still represents the financial industry’s most widely used communications tool. This traditional one-way communication method is anything but conversational and customer focused.

But the concept of blogging, the ability to reach and converse with your target audience effectively and efficiently sounds compelling, right?

I’m drawn to the conversational and two-way nature of blogging. It’s a great way for customers or potential clients to hear from the company in an authentic and interesting way. The company now has personality.

The idea of corporate blogging is making its way into the mainstream. In addition to Scoble and Israel’s writings, numerous studies and articles have been written about the potential impact that blogging could have on corporations.

A Public Relations Journal study claims that the new world of public relations requires PR professionals to embrace the digital age—or else. According to the study, this means developing digital strategies that complement and further enhance the client relationship. It means using the Internet and the many sources available to advance relationships, such as blogging.

A study by Edelman Public Relations says blogging empowers employees to communicate in ways similar to the rise of labor unions witnessed in the 20th century. The study discusses the importance of establishing blogging guidelines. Scoble and Israel and organizations such as the BBC also raise this point.

So, after reading “Naked Conversations” and the many upbeat articles about blogging, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the blogosphere simply has too many rules and guidelines. Before reading the book, I thought that blogging was supposed to be a forum for those who wanted to voice their opinions and express themselves however they saw fit. I used to view blogging more as an open source-esque type of communication. The book illustrates the less than appealing reaction that the blogging community can take when a company unknowingly veers off the blogging rule path and attempts to take a different approach. The blogosphere becomes a bully towards those who break the blogging rules. That part I don’t appreciate.

But bully blogging aside, I believe that blogging could be effective in the financial industry. As Scoble and Israel point out, the entire culture, particularly the legal team, needs to be on board.

Investment professionals who operate in a blogging friendly culture and who are creative, interesting, and can write well could find blogging as a way to build stronger client relationships and gain new customers.

There are certain topics financial blogs must avoid for legal reason, such as recommending specific stocks. Instead, the focus could be on specific life events that people face and the financial difficulties that result.

I believe that the women’s market represents an ideal target audience for blogging. I could see blog postings talking about the financial considerations that divorced women should understand, or the financial impact of having a child. An advisor who blogged about these issues could position themselves well with clients and prospects and with peers in the financial community.

A number of financial blogging communities already exist, such as “No Limits Ladies.” This social community discusses financial literacy in a fun and interesting way with other investors. I see no reason why investment professionals can’t take part and help to transform and improve the world of financial blogs.

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Prior to reading “Naked Conversations,” I knew little about Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. I recall that Scoble worked at Microsoft and earned his name through blogging.

When I Googled the book, I came across Scoble’s blog “scobleizer.”  I must admit, at first I was taken aback by the photo in the header of his blog. It shows a silly grinning Scoble pointing his left index finger and holding what at first looks like a weapon in his other hand. Upon further inspection, it appears he’s holding a camera or other tech device. At least Scoble appears to have a good sense of humor for an ultra tech geek.

After reading through the first half of the book and some of Scoble’s blog entries, one thing’s clear: both of these men are undoubtedly passionate about blogging and believe that it’s the next greatest communications invention—particularly for corporations. 

The book provides compelling case study examples describing some of the business reasons companies should blog. I appreciate the authors taking a business angle approach.

Prior to taking the class Introduction to the Digital Age, I incorrectly assumed that bloggers comprised Gen Y types who wanted to pontificate and brag to their friends about their latest endeavors. Or that bloggers comprised young desperate “wanna be” reporters looking for their big break at a traditional media publication.

When I previously thought about bloggers, I would think of the NYT article that featured the story by a former blogger from Gawker Media, Emily Gould. She previously blogged about the lives of so-called famous people in NYC. Ultimately, strong public dislike of Gould caused her to quit her job at Gawker. She’s now writing freelance for such publications as the NYT. She featured her raw and unfiltered story about her blogging experience this past summer in the NYT. The article paints a pathetic look at the life of a publicity-driven blogger who had the tables turned on her when she became the story instead of reporting what was happening to the lives of stars.

“Naked Conversations” certainly has placed a new perspective for me about the fascinating world of blogging. I now see that people and companies blog for many reasons—such as to enrich their lives or to extend their reach. It can open up a world of possibilities. Corporate blogging offers a way for companies to economical and effectively communicate with customers. It can paint a company as authentic and transparent if used properly. It can help to build stronger customer relationships as it has for GM’s Vice Chairman Bob Lutz. It personalizes and humanizes a company and provides a feedback mechanism. Additionally, it can help to build a company’s reputation and credibility.

The authors will address some of the negative effects of blogging in the second half of the book. I certainly hope that they discuss how blogging—and other technologies such as email—are negatively influencing the English language.

NPR recently featured a segment talking about how technology, such as texting, is destroying our ability to communicate. People aren’t using proper grammar anymore. They are purposely writing incomplete sentences or using acronyms to communicate their thoughts.

I completely agree with the NPR analysis. Bloggers for instance misspell or leave out words so sentences are incomprehensible. Scoble and Israel think that such innocent mistakes make the blogger appear authentic and transparent. I completely disagree. The biggest problem that I have with reading blogs is the plethora of misspelled words and the use of incomplete sentences. I’m not suggesting that bloggers submit their posts through an editor to check their grammar. All I’m recommending is that bloggers respect the English language—use spell check, and re-read their messages prior to publishing. That’s all that I’m asking.

My final comment about the first half of the book concerns the future of blogging.

Scoble and Israel had originally thought to title their book “Blog or Die.” I’m certainly happy that they used the title “Naked Conversations. It’s more provocative, memorable and suitable. Don’t get me wrong, blogging certainly has a place in the corporate world. But I don’t think it applies to all industries.

I work in the investment industry. This field is highly regulated and controlled. The authors make the assertion that unless corporations begin blogging they will whither. I don’t believe that applies to all industries. Specifically, I don’t see the financial industry ever widely using blogs. It’s already so heavily regulated that any dialogue/communication with shareholders must first be reviewed and approved by lawyers knowledgeable of industry regulations.  For example a discussion of upcoming stock or mutual fund offerings without proper documentation can bring about serious penalties.

Moreover, I disagree with the authors that blogging will become as big as the Internet. I just don’t see this happening. While I agree that blogging has a place at some companies and in specific industries, it’s not a “do or die” situation for companies as the authors make it out.