Posted December 10, 2008 10:32 am by with 23 comments

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New research from Forrester suggests that only 16% of those that read company blogs say they trust them.

For all you corporate-types, I’ll let that sink in for a second.

Now, before you reach for the "delete" button in your blogging platform–the one that says "warning, this can’t be undone"–there’s a silver lining to this dark cloud.

Among bloggers–those that publish a post at least once a month–your credibility raises to 39%. Perhaps suggesting that as part of the blogosphere, you’re trusted among your peers.

So, what is a corporate blogger to do? Well, as Forrester suggests–and I agree–blogging should be one spoke on your customer engagement wheel. A blog is not going to make all of your branding dreams come true on its own–you need to tap into a wide range of customer touch points. This chart says it all:

Hmm, interesting that the most trusted information sources are from "people you know" and "consumer reviews"–where have we explored those concepts before? 😉

The Forrester report has some advice for those companies determined to press ahead with their corporate blog. The biggest recommendation is to not simply make your blog about you, your news, and your products. Instead:

  • Blog about the customer’s problem
  • Blog to your hordes of fans
  • Blog about issues at the core of a community
  • Blog because you’re a celebrity
  • For B2B companies, get your employees in on the act
  • Blog to have a voice

For more recommendations–and some pretty charts–you can give up your email address in exchange for a free copy of the report.

  • I think this is a wake up call for a lot of old school PR types. You have to take an honest look at your company’s blog and ask yourself: can a reader gain anything from this? Is this copy only intended to make you look good? Is commenting allowed on your blog? Simple questions like this can prevent a mountain of trouble in social media. The purpose of a blog and social media is to create a conversation between you and your customer. If you just announce things and don’t interact…it’s largely useless as a tool.

    Stuart Foster’s last blog post..My First Experience Promoting Myself – My AIM Screen Name

  • Maybe because only 16% of corporate blogs are actually done correctly.

    TheMadHat’s last blog post..Black Friday Thesis Sale

  • So referrals (tell-a-friend), SEO, and getting positive reviews for your products is huge. And although traditional print media is hurting it’s still a trusted type of advertising. (Editorial type content)

    @Stuart, I agree. Nice comment.

  • I agree with @TheMadHat and was going to voice the same opinion. For some of my sites, I have many people tell me that they went ahead and made the purchase because of some information they found on the blog. I think if you are providing useful information and adding to their searching experience, it will always be beneficial for them. I guess my point here is – the number of people that have told me they purchased because of information on my blog is enough for me to keep on working it!

    Matt Siltala’s last blog post..We Are Already Getting Calls Because Of Your Local Advertising Post

  • Yeah, I’m of the “time to re-think it” feeling. There are simply too many success stories from bloggers, both corporate and independent to ignore it. I’m with Stuart. Perhaps if they took it seriously and for what it is, the perception would work itself out.

    I really hate the “I tried to blog for a month with 2 posts. and they were sales pitches or newsletters. I guess this blog stuff doesn’t work.”

    Companies need to realize that there is only so much that they can make “theirs.” Social media is owned by the community at large not them. Stop trying to turn it into something else, and play the game correctly. Only then can it work for you.

    I’m especially cranky about this right now because I literally just got out of a meeting on this exact topic. I may as well be preaching to a tree. 🙂

    Josh Garner’s last blog post..Check Your Tweets For Workplace Safety

  • @Stuart – you nailed it! Customers want a dialog not a monologue.

  • This really seems to be the news of the day. I have read this on about four blogs already. The thing is, most corporate blogs do suck. They suck so bad that the blog actually hurts them more than helps them.

    Blog Expert’s last blog post..Digg Headlines That Work

  • Great article and comments. The essence of the problem that corporations have with their blogs is that they try and appeal to everyone. They lack a personal feel. As Fairfax Cone said, “There is no such thing as a Mass Mind. The Mass Audience is made up of individuals, and good advertising is written always from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions it rarely moves anyone.”

    The entire blogosphere is sales copy. There are hard sales posts, soft sales posts, social proof posts, product review posts, and sticky posts. Personal sales copy (blogging) works the best. Strive to make your sales copy be as personal as possible. It should sound as if you are sitting on a couch talking with your best friend. Avoid the use of words like “I”, “we” or “us”. Replace these words with “you”. Use contractions, like doesn’t and can’t, to sound more personal.

    People want to buy from people, not big nameless corporations. When I first began designing web sites for clients, my goal was to make the web site look as big as possible. I would use words like “we”, and “us” quite often. I found that when I made the sales copy seem like it came from a friend and replaced “we” and “us” with “you”, the sales copy performed better.

    If you are a fan of the television show The Apprentice, you might recall the celebrity season where Gene Simmons wrote the following headline for Kodak, “It’s a Kodak World.”

    Gene Simmons lost the competition and was fired by Donald Trump as well he should have. A common mistake newbies make when it comes to writing headlines and sales copy is to try and seem bigger to prospects. Bigger is not always better and this is especially true when it comes to writing sales copy. Gene Simmons would have done a much better job for Kodak had he used something more personal like, “My Kodak”.

    Imagine if MySpace was instead named WorldSpace, UniverseSpace, or InfinitySpace. Imagine if YouTube was instead named WorldTube, UniverseTube, or InfinityTube. It is doubtful that either of these businesses would have ever grown to the size they are today.

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  • @Lance – it can be hard to make that switch from “I” to “you.” It finally happened with me after writing Radically Transparent–370 pages of writing will ingrain anything. 😉

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  • Yellow pages and print newspaper in the top 5 still? Whats the age group of this sample?

    Jaan Kanellis’s last blog post..2008 Year-End Google Zeitgeist Released, Sarah Palin Rules

  • Maybe it’s not written for consumers, but the press or investors? If so, who cares what consumers think about something that’s not meant for them and they largely ignore anyway?

    Ed Kohler’s last blog post..Signs of Love: Broken Windows Edition

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  • I’m agreeing with the trend I see in the comments – consumers want to be included, not just preached to. If you want a megaphone, don’t call it a blog.

    Brandon Cox’s last blog post..eGrace Creative Gets A Big Mention

  • Seth the cranky SEO

    I agree with a lot of what is being said here. Here’s my takeaway list:
    1) blogs need to be useful
    2) blogs should be entertaining
    3) blogs should not be solely an extension of corporate PR rah-rah.
    4) transparency is rewarded with even more loyal consumers
    5) your customers can smell b.s. — even in print — from miles away.
    6) encourage conversations with your customers – this adds value to your brand, builds trusts and turns customers into evangelists. GetSatisfaction does a great job with this (yes I know it’s not a blog).

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  • I think blogging about customer’s problem is a good way to show that you ‘care’. And subsequently if you can also update it with the action/solution then its can help to build up trust…

    Saad Kamal’s last blog post..Google Toolbar PageRank Update Coming Soon

  • JT

    Of course, people tend to trust the emails from people they know. This is why social marketing is very important these days.

    JT’s last blog post..Zen and PPC campaigns

  • Not surprising. The real key is to have corporate evangelists.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..SEO and Usability – SES Chicago 2008 Presentation

  • I think the consumer is overloaded with information and thus don’t trust most blogs

  • There are obvious reasons to not trust a corporate blog, also I dont understand mixing the formal with the informal.

  • Brian

    Ahm, so 84% of people trust my corporate blog, right? That seems pretty damn good. If you told someone that 84% of people on the internet believe everything you say, I think they’d take that.