Next week I have the honor of giving a live presentation at the BizBuzz Social Media Conference here in the Syracuse area at the Holiday Inn Conference Center on Electronics Parkway; that's for the local people, but y'all can check the link.

The leader always sets the trail
for others to follow

I'm speaking on the topic of business blogging, which in and of itself is an important component of social media. It also is an interesting way to highlight people who are leaders in some fashion and how they participate in social media. For instance, at least to me, it's interesting to note that what you're talking about professional bloggers, 25% have a household income of more than $100,000 and 79% have college degrees. Around 13% of all professionals and self employed people write a blog, but in the last 2 years around 65% of small businesses have added a blog to their website.

And there's more. It's predicted that by the end of 2012 43% of all companies will have blogs, and 13% of those blogs will be written by the CEOs of the company. Some of those CEOs are going the non-traditional way and writing "blogs" on sites like Facebook and Google+, which I still think is kind of a bust, yet they'll find some people will follow them to see what they have to say and will put out short missives in other place.

Why are they doing this? Aside from narcissistic people like myself they're finding that corporate blogs help generate business, and participating in social media has helped some companies increase their business by as much as 76%. Not only that but when people can relate to a CEO they actually give the company more positive marks overall, even when they acknowledge that those particular companies might not be places they buy a lot of stuff from. However, studies also show that more than 70% of bloggers in general write review posts, and when they write positively about a business that business show an increase in sales of around 30%. True, not every blogger, but one that seems to make a connection with enough people can easily stimulate sales.

Earlier this year a hospital CEO ended his popular local blog where he kept people up to date on the processes his hospital was going through, first to try to stabilize its workforce and finances, then its merger with another local hospital. It was interesting to see how people took to the blog and the CEO telling it like it is, but with a compassion one doesn't always see from CEOs. Not that CEOs might not be compassionate, but in larger organizations the CEO is often a hidden figure that develops mythical interest by employees who wonder what it would be like to meet the top guy. In this case he made himself accessible through his blog, and the employees, and people like me, appreciated it.

Leaders of companies and leaders in general need to start embracing what social media has to offer. You can bet their competitors will, and those who get there first or get there best will win the PR contest. In an economy like ours, are you willing to risk being left behind?