Even worse, Shel talks about “The Wisdom of Crowds”. Shel, I’ll tell you now, the only consistent characteristic of a large group of humans is stupidity, perhaps followed closely by being easy to manipulate. Pet Rocks anyone?
I’ve been following the threads on how Robert Scoble and Shel Israel got a bit of a kicking from Werner Vogels when they attempted to tell the folks at Amazon that they should be blogging with some amusement. I’m not really a fan of the whole “everyone needs to blog” approach to corporate blogging. While I think that blogging has its place, it’s not a panacea and if you aren’t doing it, you’re probably not missing out too much.
One of Robert’s quotes in his post stuck out:
Blogging doubled sales at Stormhoek winery, according to its CEO
I think this sentence, on its own, shows why, Werner was right to give Shel and Robert a rough ride and demand some real figures. The actual first line of the story that Robert links to is this:
“South African producer Stormhoek has doubled sales of its wine with a campaign directed at the blogging community.”
Can you see the difference? Stormhoek didn’t double its sales through blogging: it increased them by marketing to bloggers. That’s a very, very different claim. The only actual indication of how many bottles that were sold via blogging is the 100 bottles sent out via Hugh – of 100,000 sold. How many of those 100 bottles were turned into further sales? How many people who bought Stormhoek did so because they’d heard of it via a blog? And how much more significant was the fact that Sainsburys, Asda, Oddbins, Majestic, Waitrose and Somerfield – all major UK wine sellers – started stocking the brand?
That’s what Werner means by a lack of hard figures. Now Amazon has a LOT of hard figures about its customers. It knows everything you’ve bought, and how many things (and what) you’ve bought after a recommendation. It knows who your friends are, because they bought you things from your wishlist. It knows what you sold through its marketplace, it knows if and what complaints you made. THOSE are hard facts, and from them Amazon can tell a much greater range of things about its customers than any amount of blogs would.