There has been a lot of press lately (well the last 2 years I suppose) about how special blogs are and what they bring to the web. Much of this has to do with Nick Denton and Robert Scoble who use blogs for different reasons (one for business, the other for PR). In any case many companies might read these articles and think that blogs are the answer to all of their customer relationship problems. This is the wrong line of thinking.
Putting a blog up on a site does not mean instant traffic or success. It does not even mean that your customers will begin to trust you more. Putting a blog up on your site means nothing without having someone passionate enough to use it. Someone who cares enough about your organization and is willing to openly communicate externally with people.
Microsoft has a lot of employees blogging, but not all of them are successful. They could have given anyone a blog and told them to evangelize Longhorn. Instead they chose Scoble and currently he seems to be doing a decent job considering his popularity (a tough job seeing how most of us view Microsoft). However, without Microsoft following through with what he is saying his words are useless. The blog becomes useless and in the end he no longer becomes a trusted source. This causes the “solution” to turn into the problem.
What makes a successful blog for a company? Well first there has to be a reason to put one up on your site. Admittedly, not every company will benefit from their use so a thorough understanding of their benefits for you and your company are in order. Secondly, the company has to really want to make their experience better for their customers. Placing a blog on your site and using the same marketing spiel that has caused all of us to mistrust corporations in the past only makes the situation worse.
The people and the values that the company hold are the solution to customer relationship problems, not the technology. It really is that simple.