Trust and Corporate Blogging

I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking on this blog and in other places about what to do and what not to do with a corporate blog. Here’s a short summary:

  • Don’t regurgitate press releases. Do focus on content relevant to your industry
  • It’s not all about you. It is a conversation.
  • Don’t focus on marketing messages. Have a personal tone.
  • Make sure the blog doesn’t get stale. A content roadmap can help you stay on track.

This morning I read Josh Bernoff’s Forrester Report, Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas, which focused on whether or not people trust corporate blogs. I was not surprised by the finding that only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs trust them. I don’t usually trust press releases, which tend to tell one side of the story (the company’s side) always in the best possible light and sometimes with so much spin you can’t find the meat of the announcement. Too many corporate blogs seem like a series of press releases, and I don’t trust those blogs. However, there are also many excellent corporate blogs written by people that I do trust.

I tend to agree with Richard MacManus on ReadWriteWeb:

To the larger point of whether corporate blogs are trustworthy, it depends on so many things that it’s difficult to make a sweeping judgement. For example, I trust some Microsoft blogs more than others – depending on the person blogging and perhaps even the department they work for. It depends on the style of blogging, the content that’s published, the way the blog is promoted, and so on. (Quoted from ReadWriteWeb)

Based on the recommendations in the report, I suspect that Josh agrees with us:

Like any other marketing channel, blogging can work. But it’s not about you; it’s about your customer. Our rule of thumb is that if the person reading the blog says, “Sure I don’t trust corporate blogs, but I don’t think of your blog that way,” then you’re on the right track. (Quoted from Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas)

Josh includes a few tips for improving the trust on your blog (his article has a few more tips and a paragraph with more explanation on each one):

  • Blog about the customer’s problem.
  • Blog to your hordes of fans.
  • Blog about issues at the core of a community.
  • For B2B companies, get your employees in on the act.

(Quoted from Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas)

The real message here is that trust has to be earned. Trust has to be earned for each new corporate blog and each individual blogger. Jeremiah Owyang put together an informal checklist to help you evaluate your current company blog. A great corporate blog can be a trusted source of information, but it takes real work and diligence to get to that point.

How’s your corporate blog performing?

11 thoughts on “Trust and Corporate Blogging”

  1. I wasn’t that moved by the trust thing. Personal blogs had a trust factor of 18%, which is only 2% more than corporate. To me, the research revealed a blog trust issue, not a uniquely corporate struggle.

    Your post does a great job of underscoring the challenge any blogger faces, which is how to *earn* trust. The 4 guiding principles you share here are right on.

  2. I think it depends on the company and a person’s prior reputation with them. I think a lot of building the trust is based on a personal level. You show your human side, you gain trust because then you are not a company blogging, but a person blogging.

  3. @Josh Brilliant! Become people they know.

    So many organizations are blinded (corrupted) by the idea of branding that they forget they are also people. If the social media phenomina is telling us anything…it’s that people trust people.

    This is why the report’s recommendation on employee blogging is so powerful. But not just B2B, but retail, B2C…it’s the right voice. As Richard Edelman said in his annual “Trust Barometer” this year…Employee bloggers are 5x more credible than c-level bloggers.

    Chris Baggott
    Compendium Blogware

  4. Yes, it is the voice that counts.

    If it comes across as an authentic person I will read the blog, ***even if I disagree with the author***. It is not that I give the people I disagree with the benefit of the doubt, although I might, it is that I will give them my time to understand their perspective and possibly change mine. If the corporate post does not seem authentic, I certainly won’t spend the time.

    My favorite bit on this is over at the ol’ Cluetrain Manifesto (

  5. Some great points here. I think the points about blogging primarily as a real person are bang on. Ok, so let’s say you’re blogging as a real person on the corporate blog – I would love to know what people think about how much of a difference that makes to overall trust of the corporation the blog is tied to. Would you say that one measure of the trustworthiness of the corporation is the trustworthiness of their blog? (I mean from a perception angle – since who trusts corporations anyways?) 🙂

  6. It’s been interesting to see the how all of the comments have focused on the people element (we trust people not companies), which is so true. I always encourage people to show their personality when they blog, even on a corporate blog, with little tidbits about their life outside of the company. Nothing screams insincere like someone who talks only about the company as if they cease to exist outside of work hours.

    Getting to know the people behind the blog is critical to developing trust.

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