Blogs Aren’t Inherently Trustworthy

Trust Back in December, Forrester set off a bit of a blog storm when Josh Bernoff reported that consumers trust company blogs less than any channel.

I paid attention to it at the time, but decided not to weigh-in at the time. Today, however, I listened to the latest episode of the Shill podcast where, amidst the tomfoolery, Dave Jones and Doug Walker made the excellent point that blogs by themselves aren’t inherently trustworthy.

I agree.

Blogs are a tool. From a communicator’s perspective, blogs sit alongside news releases, pitches, events, media advisories and all other sorts of communications products. Is a speech inherently trustworthy? No, but the person behind it might be.

It’s the people that are behind the blogs that build trust – not the blogs themselves.

Why is trust in corporate blogs low? Because people don’t trust corporations (as a whole – yes, I know there are some companies that some people do trust).

Who do people trust? People like them. How do you build trust in your blog? You show the people behind the page.

Blogs don’t build trust. Genuine people, writing like themselves rather than machines, writing useful, authentic content rather than just messages, build trust.

Oh, and while I’m at it I should point out that this stuff won’t work in a vacuum, either. You can have the best people in the world on your blog but if your company’s actions don’t match the words, the words are hollow. Social media outreach won’t work for everyone.

What do you think? How can corporate blogs build trust?

  • I fully agree, people trust people.

    Do you think there could ever be a case for a company blog written by a fictional character using well defined tone-of-voice and language guidelines?

    I’m just thinking of cases where a company would benefit from blogging but would need to outsource the copywriting either due to lack of time or skills internally.

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  • I agree too – blogs are just a tool – it’s the trust between the author and the reader that is what creates a relationship.

    And a corporate creating a fictional character is a definite no – it’s unethical and will undoubtedly end in it being revealed as a fake.

    Employing a ghostwriter would be ok, if it’s declared up front – eg “This is the blog of Mr CEO, assisted by Mr Copywriter”…

  • This especially holds true as Chris Matthews on Hardball last night said “the rumors (about Caroline Kennedy’s withdrawal from senate) were a blog thing, and that he practiced journalism and that blogs, in general, did not.” It’s unfortunate that he feels this way but understandable as well. See for more on this http://tinyurl.com/cnvy8d

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  • I think corporate blogs can build trust by not appearing too promotional or boastful. That’s not what a blog is for! Corporate bloggers should still be insightful, provide complementary content, and welcome feedback. Most importantly, like you said, it should seem like there’s a human being behind the blog.

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