Trust and Corporate Blogging

There has been a bit of a flutter lately about the whole issue of Corporate Blogging.  A recent post from Forrester Research on their Groundswell blog highlighted some data that showed only 16% of people trust Corporate Blogs.  

“Company Blog” is way down the bottom there.

I am only going to make two comments about this.

Firstly, I think it’s right.  Not that all Corporate Blogs are disingenuous, consumers simply have no way to sort out truth from fiction.  We find it hard to trust things that have no transparency mechanism built in.  We trust online reviews because of the power of consensus – not because we trust an anonymous individual’s single experience.  We trust email from people we know because they probably have a track record with us.  Just like we trust individual bloggers we know are experts in a field.

We don’t trust social networking profiles because just how sure are you that that cute girl who is a friend of your best friend’s best man really does LOOK that cute in her picture?  We all try to add a little pizzaz to our profiles, right?

My point being that it is very tough for a corporate blog to reach a high level of trust with no transparency mechanism.  With no way for readers to easily sort fact from ‘fact’ (the corp comm. version of ‘fact’).  

I think the only way for a blog to do this is to be genuine.  One of the best corporate blogs I read is from Joel Spolsky – the CEO of Fog Creek Software.  He writes in a genuine way that invites trust.  He also writes more about ‘how’ his company does things rather than ‘what’ they do.  About human things rather than corporate things.  

The second point (ok, so maybe it’s the third) is that this is an awful survey question.  Context matters in surveys.  If you include items such as ‘personal email’ along with items such as ‘company blog’ on a scale of trust, you are dooming the company blog in the results.  Why don’t we just add ‘the person who bought you into the world and taught you all you know – usually your, Mother’ to the list?  Then we would really see ‘company blog’ sucking the pavement!

We have spheres of trust that don’t overlap.  How I think about a company blog in the world of communications from brands is vastly different to how I think about and use personal email.

There is no way you can interpret this result as only 16% of people trust Corporate Blogs.  There is actually no valid interpretation of what that 16% represents given the vastly different items in that list.  But alas, I can feel it making its way around the web as I write…

2 Responses to “Trust and Corporate Blogging”

  1. December 12, 2008 at 7:43 am #

    It’s nice to have you back Paul!

    I agree that the question is very subjective. However, I think the results are directionally correct and in the ballpark when I think of the question myself.

    I guess personal blogs aren’t that much better at just 18%… I think it really depends on the blogger, their style, tenure blogging, etc.

    Up until a few years ago (I’m 32) I really believed that if you ate raw cookie dough, it would expand in your stomach and blow it up. Seriously. Why? Because that’s what my mother told me when I was younger. :)

  2. Paul Soldera
    December 12, 2008 at 9:23 am #

    Ha, I think I heard that one as well Tony! Yeah, I think the results are directionally correct. I just think these numbers will probably float around for ages and be a bit misleading.