"Only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs say they trust them." That was the main message in the just-released Forrester Research report, Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas (available for free with registration here), by Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell - Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies with Charlene LI).
It's not that consumers are not open to the idea of a company Blogging, they're just not open to a company Blogging about themselves and how great they (think they) are. People don't trust corporate Blogs because people don't trust corporations in general. Bernoff agrees:
"We examined these results further. Among people who regularly read blogs (at least once a month), 24% trust company blogs. Among people who blog themselves, 39% trust them. These are low numbers any way you slice it.
In fact, those who trust company blogs are the most trusting of all consumers. Not only do they trust blogs more than average consumers, they trust everything more. Your blog isn’t winning over many skeptics, folks.
In retrospect this result is not that surprising. People don’t trust companies in general. Why should they trust a company blog any more than a press release or an advertisement?"
It makes perfect sense. Real Blogs written by real people need a lot of time and attention to develop community and engage in it. Blogging - as a platform - is still relatively new. How many companies do you know who really put in the hard work (and time) required to give it a real go?
Most companies don't even have the energy to use their basic web analytic tools to understand their traffic and optimize their content and site flow to make the experience better, how can we expect them to spend the time to get Blogging right as well? It's clear from the Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas research that it's not about getting the companies that have tried Blogging to stop, and it's also not about discouraging those companies peeking into the Blogging world to shy away and dump that money back into banner advertising. It is about companies getting smarter by taking the time to understand what will get their consumers interested in this type of content and how to keep it going without it coming off like a press release, sales pitch or plea for attention.
Most company Blogs blow because companies understand only one-way dialogue (from their mouths to our ears). The companies that are great at it (and the good folks over at the The Blog Council were kind enough to point some of them out over here: Here are a few trustworthy corporate blogs) are the ones that understand the new two-way dialogue or, as Clay Shirky (author of Here Comes Everybody) calls it, the "group expression."
Based on this latest research, open and transparent companies have to work even harder to really break through to the masses to get their content heard. It seems like even the great companies who are doing some amazing things with their Blogs are simply, "guilty by association." The tragedy of it all is that Blogging winds up getting hurt and this will take it (and other social channels) even longer to be accepted and valued in the c-suite.
The Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas also dismisses the often expressed idea that "Blogging is dead." Something can't be dead if it never really had much life in it to begin with.
What do you think companies need to do to get their Blogs to be more trusted?