Blogs Twice as Trusted as Congress

Josh Bernoff, a Forrester analyst and co-author of Groundswell, has issued a new report and has written a new blog post, entitled “People don’t trust company blogs. What you should do about it.” As people ranked sources of information, “company blog” came in dead last, at 16 percent.

I don’t trust it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have immense respect for Josh, and I think his post does point out some useful takeaways about how a corporate blog can be successful.

But I think the question that was the basis of his research was essentially meaningless.

It’s like asking people for their approval or disapproval of Congress. Before the last election in the U.S., the approval rating for Congress was at an all-time low, I believe. Something like 9 percent.

But people don’t vote in their local elections based on their opinion of Congress as a whole; they vote based on their local member of Congress and their perception of his or her record.

As Matthew Grant said in the comments on Jeremiah Owyang’s post about this study said, what’s really interesting is that the trust rating for personal blogs was only two points higher.

“Blogs” in general have negative connotations, just like “Congress” as a whole does. But a blog is just a type of Web site; one that enables interaction. I ‘m sure lots of people go to blogs and don’t even realize they are on a blog. They just perceive it as another Web site.

People are distrustful of companies in general and politicians in general. And they’ve had good reason, as demonstrated yesterday by the Illinois governor’s arrest for trying to sell Obama’s seat in the Senate. Rod Blagojevich’s trust level is probably around 3 percent today. Even after the recent vice presidential campaign, I’m betting Sarah Palin’s approval rating in Alaska is at least 20 times that.

People make distinctions among blogs (company or personal), just as they do among members of Congress. Or governors. The Blog Council (of which Mayo Clinic is a member) has a post discussing the Forrester findings as well.

As Shel Holtz put it nearly two years ago:

I trust certain people, and some of them have blogs. Therefore, I trust their blogs. It’s the person I trust, in other words, not the medium.

So as Josh says, be different. Be one of “the good guys.” If you’re going to have a company blog, don’t make it a regurgitation of the company line. Provide useful information and an opportunity for interaction. Let people make their voices heard on your site. And listen.

Trust me!

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Author: Lee Aase

Married father of six and grandfather of nine, and the Chancellor of SMUG - Social Media University, Global. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

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