Yahoo Search Blog: Blogs as a Feedback Tool
Tom and I met with the founders of Voce Communications last Friday, 10 Dec., for an informal lunch meet and greet (see Tom's companion piece). Among the guests were Nancy Evars and Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo, who worked together to put up the Yahoo Search Blog.
This pairing in itself was interesting to me, as engineers (Jeremy) and marketing types (Nancy) have traditionally been allergic to one another. (I've seen this many times from my former vantage point inside many startups.) So I found it fascinating they have managed to work together to create a succesful blog.
Nancy said the Yahoo Search blog was created as a means of creating a 2-way dialogue with customers regarding internet search.
She stressed that it was not set up to be a PR tool, but as a resource that "influencers" (influential bloggers) would read and contribute to, thus providing valuable feedback to Yahoo from those who matter most. (Which brings up the point that metrics such as hits and unique visitors are not in themselves useful -- it's WHO is hitting on you.)
I asked her whether the blog could become a way of replacing traditional marketing and research. She replied that no, they would not take the place the place of focus groups and other traditional means of doing market research, but instead the blog is viewed as a tool for enhancing marketing efforts. Other Yahoo departments considering new product launches are now consulting with her on how to use blogs to beta test and launch upcoming products.
This is one of the greatest strength of blogs: they provide companies a relatively low cost means of conducting market research and obtaining user information from those who are actually using the technology in question. All companies need to create a genuine dialogue between themselves and their customers, and blogs provide an elegant low cost solution to the age old problem of figuring out what the customer wants.