EBay Ink's plan for unfiltered blogging
FSB: Do you think your blog, and any criticism that's posted there, will have the potential to influence decisions made on the corporate level?
RBH: I think eBay, long before I got here - it always listens. They've done Voices, there's eBay Live every year. There are blogs already up there: the Chatter blog, the PayPal blog, the Skype blog. It's not like they are not listening to conversation.
This is the first time we're giving them direct access at the corporate level. I think, with a two-way dialogue, sure - there are going to be changes that will come out from that, because we listen here.
FSB: You'll have access to all the top exes. Will you be sitting in on meetings?
RBH: Yes, I've actually done that already. It's been a quick ramp-up. I'm kind of like a walking sponge. Before we launch, I'm trying to sit in on as many team meetings as I can.
FSB: What is your impression of eBay so far?
RBH: I have to be honest, I'm impressed at how fast the company moves internally. I was at Microsoft very early on in my career, and it wasn't as fast as this.
There was always frustration in getting through red tape. After that I went to a number of startups, so I'm used to the fast-paced startup world. I think that's really helped in getting this blog off the ground. You don't wait for someone to say yes, you just go ahead and do it and then get approval. EBay still has sort of a startup mentality in-house, which is really refreshing.
FSB: How often will you be responding to comments and questions on the blog?
RBH: Whenever it's appropriate. I'm going to be reading it every day. Like I said, this is my job. I'm going to be making this my full-time gig.
I will be reading the comments every day and if I think it's something I thinks warrants a response, I will. If I see a trend in the comments where it's overwhelmingly positive in response to what I've written, or overwhelming negative, I think it definitely needs to be addressed. I'm quite open to even setting up conference calls with anyone who wants to talk to me about stuff that I've written.
There will also be follow-up posts. If I set up a Q&A and I solicit questions from readers, and I use the top five questions when interviewing an exec and the answer to one of those questions leads to a trend of responses that generates another Q&A, then so be it. That would be great. It's all about continuing the dialogue, not having a one-way conversation. I don't want anything to die on the vine.
I've been reading external blogs since I got here, too, and I think there's great dialogue going on there. Scot Wingo's blog eBay Strategies, Only eBay - all these blogs have a dialogue already, but they're external. I plan to be linking to those blogs from the corporate blog, because I think that the external discussion is important. But now we can link them all together and make it even more productive. The first meetings I had when I first got here were with the editors of those blogs to find out how we can work together.
FSB: What do you anticipate the response from readers to be?
RBH: I haven't thought about the numbers. I don't know. I think the topic will dictate how many people respond. There's 276 million registered users - who knows how many of those will be vocal enough to give me feedback, but I welcome all of them.
FSB: Well, based on our site, there's definitely a handful who are pretty vocal.
RBH: It's funny you say that. When I was at PodShow, it was probably the most rewarding job I ever had because I had a direct relationship with thousands of producers of content. I'm not going to be giving out my cell phone on this blog, but I did when I was at PodShow and I had phone conversations with these people at all hours of the day, all days of the week. It was a very demanding job, but because of that it was very rewarding. I think this is just the next escalation of that. I'm really looking forward to it.
FSB: Based on your experience with the company these past two months or so, what do you think about our readers' claims that eBay does not listen to small sellers?
RBH: I don't get that sense. I just don't think they've had a real place to talk directly with the company. Sure, there's the Chatter blog, and the community can talk, but this is first time they will have the opportunity to talk directly to us. I've read things out there in the blogosphere. They are one-way dialogues right now, and I'm looking forward to making them two-way conversations.
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