Who blogged first: GM or Microsoft. The Answer? Neither.

Following the landmark research reveal on 2008 social media adoption trends by Dr. Nora Barnes at last Friday’s Society for New Communications Research Symposium SNCR.com, I floated a question that richoted around the room like a bullet.

Very simply I asked, “Who was the first Fortune 500 company to blog?”

Dr. Barnes respectfully deferred the question to the many experts in the room, and it was an immediate jumpball. Shel Israel was the first to speak up, saying he was fairly certain that General Motor’s was the first official mover in 2005 with its fastlane blog.  John Cass took possession of the ball next saying he was fairly certain that either SUN or Microsoft, or maybe both, were ahead of GM. A brawl ensued.

To get some answers, I reached out to Steve Harris at General Motors and Molly O’Donnel at Microsoft.  John Cass was a huge help too – he has been following all these guys since 2004 – forever in internet years – and was able to dig up some old blog posts and research for me.

So, who was right?

The answer depends on what you mean by official.  If you define a blog as an “official” company blog then it appears that General Motors can declare victory over Microsoft by starting its blog in 2005, but actually, it was DELL who led the Fortune 500 pack with its Linux blog hitting the internet airwaves as early as 2004.  That blog is no longer around, but Cass says it was definitely an official corporate blog.

You can go back even earlier if you define a blog as people at the company blogging about working at the company.  Looking at that blog race through that lens, Microsoft and  Sun were neck-in-neck winners. John Porcero from Microsoft wrote his first blog post about working at Microsoft in March 2003  and Cass reported that the company had as many as 700 employee blogs by 2004.

Microsoft also earned itself a clear first place with it’s channel9 website going back to 2004 — maybe not the first corporate blog, but certainly the first corporate Fortune 500 video blog.

If you’re wondering if it was only the big tech and auto guys leading the way in blogging back then, it wasn’t. Check out these very interesting (and odd) lists of the top companies blogging in 2005, 2006 and 2007: http://www.marketingideaguy.com/news/02/corporate-blogging-is-different/.

TELL US: Would love to know your company’s story. When did your company, or when will your company, start blogging?