April 17, 2014

Where Did All the CEO Bloggers Go?

CEO blogs used to be all the rage within the business blogging community. Remember when we’d hear blog consultants gush about CEOs who dared to blog with transparency and authenticity. I rarely hear much talk about CEO bloggers anymore. Do you?

Remember Jonathan Schwartz? He was the poster child of blogging CEOs, the now former (as of February 3rd) CEO of Sun Microsystems. All you could hear was crickets on Jonathan’s blog from May of last year until finally Jonathan’s farewell post on January 27. Clearly he had a few things going on; Oracle was in the process of acquiring Sun. When you’re selling your company that is pretty much all that occupies your mind. I know that first-hand, as I’m happy to say my company (Netconcepts) was acquired by Covario last month.

The thing that most struck me was the name of Jonathan’s new blog. It’s titled “What I Couldn’t Say”. Hmmm. I guess transparency within a corporation only goes so far.

With the economy is in freefall, perhaps the tolerance of various boards of directors for CEO transparency has lessened? Or it could be simply that CEOs are just too busy and blogging isn’t such a priority, now that “blog” isn’t Word of the Year anymore.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, is another CEO blogger who was acquired and who we don’t hear from any longer in the blogosphere. His last post was July of last year, and that wasn’t so much of a blog post as it was a copy of a letter that was sent to all the Zappos employees announcing the acquisition by Amazon. Before that, Tony last posted in January 2009.

I’m guilty too. My own “CEO blog” hasn’t seen any activity in over a month — no posts since Covario acquired us. But the reason for my ‘radio silence’ has nothing to do with the acquirer. I may no longer be a President/CEO, but I am still encouraged to keep blogging. The reason I don’t blog frequently is the same one as last year (when I was only posting a few times a month at best): I’m preoccupied running around speaking at conferences all over the U.S., writing for magazines, etc.

Then there are the corporate blogs where the CEO occasionally chimes in with his/her own post. My acquirer, Covario, fits into that group with its “Actionable Insights” blog. Trinity Road, an etailer of religious products like first communion dresses and rosaries, has a corporate blog, but you rarely if ever hear from the CEO on it.

Then there are the CEO blogs where you wonder if it’s actually the CEO who’s blogging because it’s so polished. Steve Spangler the science toys e-tailer, I think fits into that category. If you look at the posts on Steve’s blog you’ll see a gradual evolution to a style that is more and more polished.

Chris Baggott, CEO of the Compendium Blogware, has one of the best CEO blogs out there, in my opinion. It’s full of valuable content, it’s not overly polished, his personality really shines through, and he blogs regularly. It figures though. If any CEO would have that kind of a CEO blog, it would be the CEO of a business blogging software company!

10 comments for Where Did All the CEO Bloggers Go? »

  1. In blogging terms, CEOs are not much different to the rest of us. Almost all blogs that get started are then abandoned within 30 days. Less than 5% of blogs which have been created are actually active. So it is no surprise that CEOs have also largely given up.

    But there could be another reason; CEOs tend to have a personality type which is “go getting”, action oriented and results focused. The problem with blogging is it is a “slow burn”. Take a look at the truly successful blogs online and most of them didn’t really become great until they had been around for a a couple of years. The results oriented CEO wants results this quarter. When they don’t see them, they give up and move on to something else that could possibly achieve results for them.

    Perhaps we need a new breed of CEOs these days – those whose personality is more suited to the gradual achievement of results, rather than the make money now, kind. All of the financially successful blogs that I know about are ones that are run by people who are not focused on “results now”.

    Comment by Graham Jones - Internet Psychologist — February 22, 2010 @ 6:47 am


  2. Thanks for the post, Stephan. Instead of writing (longer) blog posts, I’ve found that Twitter has been much easier for me to keep up with, and I try to send out at least one tweet every single day:

    http://twitter.com/zappos

    Comment by Tony Hsieh - CEO Zappos.com — February 22, 2010 @ 7:48 am


  3. Hi Stephan,
    I wonder if CEOs that just stop blogging once they have started actually measure or have thought about the brand damage that it causes amongst their customers. Similarly, CEOs that announce blogs and don’t blog themselves show signs of not being authentic. This could have damaging effects too.

    Smacks of just being a fad with them but they don’t seem to measure the downside of stopping.

    If they can’t anymore because of M&A legal reasons then why not say so. I’m sure everyone will understand and respect that.

    Adrian

    Comment by Adrian Swinscoe — February 26, 2010 @ 7:28 am


  4. I agree, a blog should be an insight into someone’s ideas/thoughts on a topic that others will find interesting.

    Corporate blogs and polished CEO blogs as you put it wouldn’t fall into that category.

    Has blogging been victim of its own success and popularity?

    Comment by Jon — March 3, 2010 @ 7:53 am


  5. Stephan – I think its just the big-boys that are abandoning their blogs. Take a look at the INC 5000 CEOs instead of Fortune 500. Here’s one just started up a few months ago by a fast-growing IT services firm on the INC 5000 list: http://blog.dataprise.com

    Comment by Jon Payne — April 2, 2010 @ 10:52 am


  6. The point about patience for results is a good one. The importance and priority of a CEO blog depends on your industry. If you are in the Interactive Media business, it seems that a CEO blog is a relevant platform to get your voice, message and Brand out there. My previous boss, Jarvis Coffin, the CEO of Burst Media, posts nearly every day on the Burst Media Blog. As a CEO of eBiz ROI, a start-up Internet Marketing Service provider, I see the value. Though in the 5% of active blogs, I like many, need to be more disciplined in my blogging.

    Comment by Rick Noel of eBiz ROI, Inc. — April 2, 2010 @ 11:02 am


  7. “1.In blogging terms, CEOs are not much different to the rest of us. Almost all blogs that get started are then abandoned within 30 days.”

    Is that true? I’ve seen similar figures, but never a definitive answer. Not saying it isn’t, but it’s something that I’d be interested to read more about.

    Comment by Andy - FirstFound Manchester — April 9, 2010 @ 9:31 am


  8. I totally agree with Graham. I didn’t realize the statistics were that staggering but it doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think it is so much the CEO Bloggers disappeared as I do think the novelty wears off and maintaining a blog with good, fresh content takes a lot of work and time; the latter of which most CEO’s just dont’ have much.

    Comment by relationshipsellingbuffs — May 2, 2010 @ 11:11 pm


  9. You explain it well Stephan.

    But I wonder if all the CEO you mentioned above stop blogging because they think blogging was’t attractive and profitable anymore?

    Like you said, since “blog” isn’t Word of the Year anymore.

    Comment by Shaz — May 10, 2010 @ 9:22 pm


  10. I think the question is really much more a question of what online activites are these same CEOs involved in now? As businesses clamor to Facebook and LinkedIn as important new community building tools, these CEOs may have just switched platforms. I’ve noticed the same thing in my e-newsletter marketing practice – while the technology is a bit older, it’s about keeping it fresh and engaging for the target market. The minute you let it go stale…you might as well say goodbye to that online format and jump to the next.

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — May 18, 2010 @ 11:31 pm


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