In the Dec. 10 issue of SmartBrief on Social Media, we summarize a news item about a Forrester Research survey that ranked corporate blogs as the least trusted of 18 marketing channels. The most trusted channel is an e-mail from someone you know followed by consumer product reviews (not clear if these are produced and hosted independently of the marketers), portals and printed yellow pages.
Let’s dwell on the “yellow pages” entry for a moment. I trust a yellow pages to print phone numbers accurately, and in something approaching alphabetical order. However, any claims expressed in the display ads for plumbers, cabs, roofers, plastic surgeons and personal injury lawyers I am likely to take with a grain of salt.
“Trust” in a yellow page listing and in a corporate blog message are two different things. I doubt very much that respondents to the Forrester survey are suggesting that they wouldn’t trust a phone number printed on a corporate blog.
This is not to say that corporate blogs are inherently trustworthy. Some companies use blogs in a ham-fisted way to try to spin negative stories to their advantage. But companies who blog this way as likely as not use more traditional media in similarly ineffective ways — employing pushy PR agents to cold-call journalists, sending aggressively worded direct mail solicitations or trashing their competitors in dubious ads.
At a retail level, a good corporate blog multiplies the effectiveness of a great communicator and salesperson by making him or her available 24/7 to current and potential customers. From a business-to-business standpoint, a corporate blog can leverage the effect of your most reassuring and collected representative. People will trust content that seems trustworthy and feels human — and isn’t subsequently proved wrong.