When software company Skype was recently accused of blocking potential competitor fring from supporting video chat, it took charge of the situation by clarifying its friction with fring over product misuse on its corporate blog. Ultimately, the buzz surrounding Skype’s blog battle with fring should be looked at by marketers as an indication that well-maintained blogs can be effective in shaping public perceptions and catching consumers’ clicks.

It started with a post on fring’s blog, entitled Skype Cowardly Blocks fring. The small company claimed Skype had prohibited fring’s use of its video chat software on phones not supported by Skype itself because it was "afraid of open mobile communication." Fring apologized for the "inconvenience Skype has caused" mobile users.

Within an hour, Skype responded to this blog entry with a post of its own, fittingly titled fring’s misuse of Skype software was damaging to our brand reputation. It claimed fring’s uses of its video chat products were inconsistent, and this damaged Skype’s credibility. The blog entry on this controversial topic proved to be major link bait for the brand, with Skype catching links from widely read sources, including the New York Times, and niche tech groups, such as TechTree.com.

Moreover, Skype’s blog entry has more than 100 comments from engaged users weighing in on the issue. Some of these posts indicate that Skype users appreciate the update from the company, with one commenter writing, "[fring’s] business model at the moment is heavily dependent on Skype’s infrastructure, I think a little bit of respect is due."

At the same time, marketers should take note that Skype’s failure to respond to commenters’ posts is annoying a number of the blog’s followers. Some posed questions about when Skype software will support the phones on which fring offered video chat options, and the general lack of response from Skype has left them less than pleased. One even wrote, "I’m disappointed that someone from Skype hasn’t been a little more responsive to these comments."

The moral of the story is that blogs can be a powerful tool in managing a brand and generating inbound links, but it’s important for corporate bloggers to keep a conversation going by responding to commenters in order to maximize blog brand-boosting opportunities.

This tip may come in handy for a number of marketers this year. According to the Bloom Group, more than 31 percent of firms currently have a company-sponsored blog. Moreover, 30 percent of marketers polled by TopRank said blogging will be their top digital marketing tactic for 2011.