Should You Blog? What Jakob Nielsen Got Wrong

Well-known usability expert Jakob Nielsen, writing in his weekly Alertbox, said:

I recently served as a “consultant’s consultant,” advising a world leader in his field on what to do about his website. In particular, this expert asked me whether he should start a weblog. I said no. I recommended that he should instead invest his time in writing thorough articles that he published on a regular schedule. Given limited time, this means not spending the effort to post numerous short comments on ongoing blogosphere discussions.

Did Mr. Nielsen give the right advice?

Judging by the comments on blogs like Scobleizer and Marketing Roadmaps, there may quite a few people who don’t think so. Personally, I don’t think he was right — but I don’t think he was wrong. I think he had NO RIGHT GIVING THE ADVICE in the first place.

If I were asked by a “world leader” — or a “world loser”, for that matter — whether or not s/he should start a blog, I wouldn’t give an answer. I would ask a question: What are you trying to accomplish?

Imagine for a moment that I’m a world leader on some topic (stop laughing and try harder). That implies that I’ve already established some credibility in my field, that quite possibly came about by publishing “thorough articles” on a regular basis.

But what if I said I was dissatisfied with the exposure my white papers or articles have, or that I was dissatisfied with the extent to which I was connected to my audience on a day to day basis? With this assumption, creating a blog might be appropriate advice.

If, on the other hand, I was intimately involved on a regular basis with my clients and prospects, but was perceived as too tactical and not strategic enough, then not creating a blog might be an appropriate response. Maybe.

My point is this: You can’t determine whether or not a blog is appropriate for your firm without first clearly defining the objectives you’re trying to achieve.

And any consultant that provides a recommendation without first asking about those objectives is irresponsible and possibly incompetent.

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