Friday, December 12, 2008, 4:03 PM

Survey: corporate bloggers need to work on trust

Josh Bernoff at Social Media Today has a great survey that ranks methods of communicating from most trusted to least trusted. Sorry, corporate bloggers. You ranked last with a mere 16%. Emails from familiar people came in first, with a 77% trust rate. The full results are below:




Now what? Have organizations wasted time, money, and effort establishing blogs? I don't think so. My belief is corporate blogs aren't the problem - bad corporate blogs are. If a company sees a blog as a new way to regurgitate press releases and quarterly statements, they may want to reconsider the whole endeavor.
Corporate blogs can be successful. Examples are here and here. I have three quick thoughts on how organizations can generate greater trust in their blogs.

First, let go. Recognize that the blogosphere is not a one-way communication tool easily controlled by a corporate communications officer. Encourage the exchange of ideas on your blog. Empower visitors to leave comments - good, bad, or indifferent. Approach blogging like you would a meal with friends. Don't force feed them; enjoy the dinner conversation.

Second, relax. The writing style of popular bloggers is generally more casual and less formal. Again, if readers feel they are reading a press release, they likely won't come back. As noted here, Rubbermaid has successfully blended casual tone and irreverent but useful information to build an impressive company blog.

Third, spread the wealth. As noted here, blogs with multiple contributers are generally more successful, not only for the diversity of perspective, but also the frequency of new posts. Many blogs (even the one you are reading right now) could improve on this.

Fourth, hang a lantern on your problem. If emails from familiar people are the most trusted means of communication, consider generating a viral email marketing campaign designed to promote your blog.

There is no shortage of advice on how companies can blog effectively. Check here and here for more. I take solace in the fact that most organizations and consumers are only just beginning to fully grasp what blogs and other interactive websites can do for them. Judging from Mr. Bernoff's survey, we can only go up from here.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous John Cass said...

thanks for the reference.

I think you have a good list of best practices for blogging. One additional idea I'd suggest is for corporate bloggers to monitor their community, and conduct outreach on topics that are relevant to their industry and blog. You don't have to pitch your wares, rather contribute to the discussion even if it isn't happening on your blog.

On a side note, I've developed a list of lawyers who have argued cases involving social media. I was wondering if you or one of your partners has been involved in such a case?

December 13, 2008 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Henry Fawell said...

John,

Thanks for your corporate blogging best practices. Great insights, particularly the value of contributing on blogs in the same industry space.

Our attorneys are very familiar with the legal challenges associated with corporate blogs, as well as online privacy matters, though I don't that they've argued a social media case in the court of law yet. Nonetheless, let us know if Womble Carlyle can be a resource to you in the future.

December 17, 2008 at 9:52 AM  

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