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!

You can pass this along to people who trust you with the handy buttons below:

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Blogging 103: Commenting on Blogs

In one sense, a blog is just a Web site.

A Web site that, because of easy-to-use and free software like WordPress, anyone can publish. You could decide to use as your content-management system, to produce your own one-way Web site. All you would have to do is turn off the comments feature, either for the whole site or for individual posts. In this way, you would have an easy Web publishing system.

But what sets blogs apart from traditional Web sites (Can you believe that? I used the word “traditional” to describe something that first started in 1994!) is the ability to invite comments and create conversations.

That’s what makes blogs interesting.

Yet most people who read blogs never participate in the discussion by leaving a comment. Forrester research indicates that about 33 percent of Internet users are “Spectators” who read blogs, listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos without leaving any comments, and 52 percent of users are “Inactives” who don’t even read blogs. (I think the inactives number is overstated because, as I said earlier, a blog is just a Web site. People are going to blogs without even knowing it.)

In keeping with our SMUG goal of getting people to stretch into new areas of social media, in Blogging 103 I hope to help some of those Inactives and Spectators move up the Forrester Ladder of Participation into the Critics category.

Just complete the assignment below, and you’ll climb a rung or two.


Click the “Comments” link at the bottom of this post. It looks something like this if no one has commented yet:

Or if some people have commented, it will have a number in front of the word “Comments” – like this:

Then you’ll see the full post reload, showing any comments from others, and at the bottom you will have a chance to add yours.

I’ll bet you can figure out how to fill in that comment form.

In a future post, I’ll show you how to participate most effectively, but for now, it’s important to just take that first step and make a comment.

You’ll note that I have set this blog to accept comments without being approved by me. In other words, I’m not “moderating” comments in advance. So you’ll get the immediate gratification of seeing your comment show up right away after you submit it, provided you’re a real human being. I use Akismet to weed out the automated comment spam that unsavory characters use to promote their herbal Viagra alternatives and the like. More on that in a future post, too.

But I also know that one reason why people don’t comment on blogs is because they don’t know exactly what to say. So I’ll set you up with a couple of questions to prime the pump, just to make it easier for you to dive in.

  1. Is this your first time commenting on a blog? If so, what has been the main barrier that keeps you from commenting?
  2. If you do comment sometimes, what are the factors that cause you to join the conversation?
  3. For extra credit, what social media topics are most interesting to you? What questions about social media would you like to see answered and discussed further?

Share This:

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Charlene Li Forrester Web 2.0 Presentation

I had the pleasure yesterday of presenting at a Web 2.0 Summit sponsored by Kaiser Permanente. Our panel was moderated by Ted Eytan, M.D., who also presented on his blogging experience from the last four years as part of Kaiser’s sister (or cousin, or some other relation I don’t completely understand) organization, Group Health. He’s an interesting guy who also has a passion for LEAN in Health Care, which is the topic of the other blog on which he is a collaborator. I also got to meet and hear Tim Collins from Wells Fargo, whose company has official blogs that include Guided by History, The Student LoanDown and one that supports Stagecoach Island, its virtual world. TIm says Wells Fargo was the first big brand in Second Life, but that they got out just as many others were starting to get in. Now they have a world of their own.

Charlene Li from Forrester Research opened the Summit with an overview of Web 2.0. She’s also the co-author of Groundswell, a book I just bought at (It’s also here on Amazon, and I’ll be reviewing it after I listen to it over the next few days). Before her presentation, we got to talk about our experience with audio books, and I recommended some from Patrick Lencioni that I think most people in business would find extremely helpful (and which I have reviewed on this blog): The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Silos, Politics and Turf Wars. (I thought I had reviewed Death by Meeting, too…but I guess that’s on my to-do list.)

I’ll have my full review of Groundswell, but meanwhile here are some of the high points and recommendations from Charlene’s presentation:

Focus on the relationships, not the technologies. At Forrester, they have developed a four-step process using the acronym POST. You should consider:

  • People – for those you want to reach and with whom you want to interact, consider their characteristics and what kinds of social media involvement they have already. Getting seniors into a 3D virtual world may be a mismatch, unless the group you’re targeting is retired Microsoft or IBM engineers.
  • Objectives – Decide what you want to accomplish
  • Strategy – Plan for how relationships with customers will change
  • Technology – Decide which social technologies to use

Charlene’s blog has a fuller discussion of POST, and I’m sure Groundswell will be even more detailed.

Part of analyzing People is determining where they are on the Ladder of Participation.

Charlene had a lot of other great material in her presentation, but she closed with some Keys to Success:

  1. Start with Your Customers.
  2. Choose Objectives You Can Measure
  3. LIne Up Executive Backing
  4. Romance the Naysayers
  5. Start Small, but Think Big

I particularly like that last point, because it fits with the SMUG (It’s all Free) philosophy. It’s possible to start small because the barriers to entry are practically non-existent, but you should plan for success to that you can scale up as necessary.

For example, you can start a blog hosted on and map to a domain or subdomain of your choosing for $10-$20 (and can extensively customize your look and feel for another $15). Later, if your blog is successful and you decide you want to host it elsewhere to allow more use of Flash and embedded widgets, you can just download and install WordPress from and re-map the domain, and you won’t lose any of your links. I’ll have more on that as I build out the Blogging curriculum.