There aren’t many readers of this site who are really tech-saavy or work in the industry, but I wanted to lay down some initial thoughts on the impact technical blogging can have on a business. For background, several well-known tech companies allow (and provide space for) their employees to have blogs. Google has a widely read space for their developers, project managers, etc. to talk about new features, new releases, and the general goings-on at the Googleplex. Microsoft, somewhat unexpectedly, has also jumped into the blog fray. Personally, I’ve gotten quite a bit of mileage from the .Net CLR Team’s blogs (Adam Nathan and Chris Brumme in particular.) Intuit itself has a few blogs, such as the QuickBooks Online Edition Blog.
I think that the keys to a useful technology blog are to Update Often and Say Something Relevant. Responding to Comments is a plus. At work I’ve been batting around the idea of whether a QuickBooks Payroll Blog would be a good idea. What does it bring to the table? Is it worth the time needed from developers, QA, PMs, and others? Would anyone reading it glean any useful information? Below are my first cut opinions on how Intuit could use blogging to its own nefarious ends.
There are many folks working on many projects in the QuickBooks Payroll division. If we also included our customer support reps, there would instantly be a wealth of information available to readers concerning new releases (fixes and enhancements) and How-To’s regarding frequently asked questions about the product. Certain activities that have long confused people could be explained by QA or Tech Support engineers.
Say Something Relevant
Google’s blog is considered interesting because they have so many pots cooking at once. At any given time they could be releasing a new beta of Gmail, introducing a new service like Google Maps, or uncorking new optimizations for their bread and butter search engine. In the same vein, QuickBooks Online Edition revs far more than once per year. The blog gives them a good line of communication to the customer for getting the word out on fixes, enhancements, and tips. Since QuickBooks Payroll, for all intents and purposes, revs several times a year as well, I think our business would also have a lot of potential in the blog arena.
I’m sure there’s more, though we always have to play in the sandbox of Confidential Information. The upside is that many large commercial software companies have proven it can be done. QuickBooks Payroll could just throw a blog out there and put random “I ate an apple for a snack today” posts in there, but the harder question is how can we do it so that customers are engaged and give us the feedback we need to continue to innovate in a customer-driven manner? Food for thought.
UPDATE: Looks like this page is the new number one Google result for ‘quickbooks payroll blog,’ which is interesting to say the least. I certainly didn’t intend one entry of ruminations to develop into THE web resource for QuickBooks Payroll Blogginess. I think that it just reinforces my point that there is a definite void out there, and the fact that the top few results for ‘quickbooks blog‘ return criticisms that there IS NO real QuickBooks Blog show that while we have work to do, there are people out there listening and that we have great opportunities.
ps– If you are not a regular reader and found this site through Google, I apologize for all the swearing, heresy, wrestling content, and pictures of the Madd Scientist. Oh so sorry.