Vendors are blogging for dollars

EMC, HDS and NetApp are among the vendors cashing in on viral marketing tactics

Viral marketing is an incredibly powerful tool for companies to communicate their message to end users. Unlike other marketing campaigns where companies may rely on splashy ads and pithy sayings to communicate their message, viral marketing takes a more subtle approach to spread a company's message.

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines viral marketing as using pre-existing social networks to increase brand awareness. Normal people refer to this as your sales representative taking you and your colleagues out for a drink after work.

And while the old-fashioned brand of viral marketing may have worked in the past, the truth is it is no longer the most cost-effective method for vendors to reach large groups of people as the costs inevitably show up in the IT gear you buy. But the advent of the Internet and blogging creates another venue for viral marketing that vendors are utilizing to spread their message and help users learn about their different technology offerings.

Storage vendors such as EMC, HDS, NetApp and others are increasingly hosting blogs as a means to draw the individuals they most desire to reach and influence to their Web sites. These blogs serve a number of purposes. They can provide users with product updates from engineers and product managers working on specific products. Users can gain additional insight into the future of the product and provide input on its design. They can also connect with other users and use the blog as a venue to anonymously discuss their experiences -- good, bad or indifferent.

Here is where the danger and opportunity lie. While the information posted in these blogs can be helpful and create a sense of community, should vendors start to abuse these blogs by contributing biased information, the information in the blogs could become as diluted as the drinks served during happy hour.

Jerome Wendt is the president and lead analyst with DCIG. He may be reached at jerome.wendt@att.net.

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