Corporate blogging growing from the inside out?

Stephen Baker suggests that corporate blogging is much more extensive than common measurements may indicate. In a Business Week article, The Inside Story on Company Blogs, Baker reports that “corporations are using [blogging] software to revamp internal communications, reach out to suppliers, and remake corporate Intranets.”

He points to McDonalds and Connondale as examples of companies that have been introducing blog software to enable employees distributed through large operations to contribute information. Now that these internal applications have proven themselves, Baker wonders whether companies will extend blogs outside the company to their customers. Before they can do this, they will have to overcome corporate caution and fear of loss of control.

Baker concludes:

Companies interested in opening up branded blogs to the broad public face plenty of risks. Opponents of the company could use them to spread criticisms or nasty rumors — and the host outfit would face the wrath of bloggers if it were seen to shut down or censor customers’ entries.

Conversely, if criticism appears on the blogs, the company can learn quickly and respond. For such giants as Wal-Mart (WMT) and McDonald’s — both subjects of blistering documentaries recently — such an early warning system might prove to be worth the gamble.