03:06 AM

IBM says it won't advertise on blogs...but wants its workers to be bloggers

By Tom Foremski for Silicon Valley Watcher.com

IBM, the world's largest computer company says that it has decided not to advertise on blogs. This decision comes in the midst of a massive push within the company to encourage hundreds of thousands of its employees to become bloggers.

IBM's mixed message risks stalling not only the growth of its own internal blogging effort, but also that of the wider blogging community. The lack of viable business models in the new media sector is a key problem and one that will be harder to solve without IBM's participation.

Jim Finn, head of communications at IBM Americas, said that there had been a decision made not to advertise in blogs but that he had advised that IBM should at least advertise in some of the leading blogs.

Mr Finn recently spoke on a panel at the Impact '05 conference at New York University. He told the audience that over the past few months, IBM had managed to encourage thousands of its employees to start blogging, and that there was a large program to encourage thousands more to become bloggers.

He explained that IBM wants its staff to become participants in the online world, and not for any promotional or marketing purpose. "It's the same as in the 1990s when IBM staff were encouraged to get connected to the internet because we felt that the internet was an important technology."

IBM has been the most courageous of all the corporations in its huge push to swell the blogosphere. It has created many educational programs, guidelines, and established legal frameworks for its bloggers. And these are starting to be copied by other companies, helping to establish a leadership position for IBM.

But IBM's decision not to advertise on blogs could undermine that effort because it could be very easily interpreted as a lack of trust in the new medium. And that blogging is not a serious medium worthy of its advertising support.

It remains to be seen how IBM's internal bloggers will react--and if they view a disconnect between Big Blue's internal blogging push, and its lack of advertising support for the broader blogging community.

Please see our scoop from May: IBM preparing to launch a massive corporate wide blogging initiative