Open Source companies can nicely take advantage of the positive effects of blogging: Markets are conversations. Weblogs are a powerful medium of communication, because they provide first-hand information about Open Source products. In a way, Weblogs even turn core developers into sales people, because with every blog entry they seamlessly sell the product to other developers.
Weblogs are an efficient way of learning how to non-obtrusively sell an Open Source product. The simple fact that a Weblog requires you to
- actually write down what you think
- take into account the interests of your target audience
lets Open Source bloggers start to think in terms of selling and marketing the product. With their Weblog, they go out there and show what the product is capable of doing and why they enjoy using it. Additionally, the way that Weblogs allow for interactive communication (e.g. via commenting functionality) creates a style of communication that is based on very similar principles like the underlying beliefs of successful sales.
Hence, you can use Weblogs to subtly coach employees of an Open Source company in learning how to effectively communicate to a larger audience. Weblogs will also foster the exchange of information within an Open Source company to raise understanding about the product. For example, a new employee might start blogging about the product and asks his colleagues for advice whenever unsure about some technical specifics. The pure fact that he does not want to make himself look like a fool when writing something wrong in his Weblog, will help clarify things for him, maybe also for other colleagues and the public.
Greg is right in claiming that there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to best practices for coprorate blogging: “Bloggers in an organization often handle some of the blogging details a little differently, and thatâ€™s ok.” Which means that personality counts in blogging and I would add that this is also true for Open Source sales.
Given that Open Source companies can reach maximum distribution with a product freely available for download to anyone, blogging nicely aligns with this freeconomics approach, because it allows Open Source companies to reach their diverse world-wide target audience with information freely readable by anyone and to sell it non-obtrusively as well as cost-efficiently.