A couple of weeks ago a digital marketeer asked me whether I think bloggers are credible. I said “yes,” to which he ended the short lived conversation in disagreement and a haughtily raised eyebrow.
This is re-hashed old news, but are we, the overly self-indulgent, opinionated exhibitionists of the world wide web credible? Does our lack of objectivity diminish the value of our personal insight? Maybe we should stop posting pictures of ourselves.
I started thinking about this a couple of months ago when I tried social listening for the first time. Our team audited the social media landscape to generate buzz levels, analysis and insight on particular products. But we also did other things:
We shook our head in disbelief.
Did he/she really need to post that duck face? Do people actually like that? WHY. I cringed. I wanted to plead. There’s more to us than that.
As a blogger and digital professional with a view from both ends, I would like to defend and give my kind a gentle reminder: It goes without saying that the internet is full of shit, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be one.
A lot of articles discuss the link between blogging and marketing/journalism/advertising — why it works, how to make it work, etc. However, I have yet to see one from the point of view of the blogger and not only the brand.
The first maxim of any blogger is to be organic. Business, if we’re lucky, is the byproduct.
Blogs, at its core, is the digital manifestation of personal expression. Bloggers existed long before brands needed us to exist. This, I believe, will always be our selling point. In fact bloggers existed since time immemorial in a different form. Any form of written observation, critique on any subject whether it’s relevant or not is a form of blogging during the pre-digital era. Regardless of mode of delivery how is the content any different?
In an increasingly competitive market these personal (perhaps what you might even call one-sided) stories are the points of differentiation. In a globalized economy everyone wants to localize content, as proof of the success of Trip Advisor, Groupon, etc.
The big guys — advertisers, news agencies, marketers, corporate giants, content curators — they need us. Our buzz is the measurements of earned success, proof that consumers actually care. Unlike word of mouth, sentiment is left like residue on the web, leaving a trail even beyond the campaign. With one click of the publish button we provide the data that drives trends and insight — for free and with the help of Google!
So it does get on my nerves a little when people (ahem marketers), especially in this new media era, bully us into the diminutive corner and don’t believe us even if they need to.
I understand that credibility is defined by the person behind the blogger and the content that they write. Do they have authority on the topic? What do they write about? My answer is to be the same person online and offline, someone who adds value regardless of the medium. Mark Zuckerburg said that “Having two identities for yourself is an example of lack of integrity” and nowadays everyone is online.
Doc Searls, the author of the The Intention Economy “describes an economy driven by personal intent, where vendors must respond to the actual intentions of customers instead of vying for the attention of many.”
Bloggers are customers, not only the means to the customer. While questioning our credibility is healthy (it should actually want to prove you wrong), remember that blogs (or other forms of social media for that matter) provides the insight and data that drives the industry in the fist place.
Do you think blogs are credible? Why or why not?