According to the author of Groundswell, Josh Berneoff, "People don’t trust company blogs." This is the result from a 2008 Forrester research (report available here after registration).
The data suggests
- "blogs rank below newspapers and portals, they rank below wikis, direct mail, company email, and message board posts. Only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs say they trust them."
Josh's own view is "don't give up on blogging," but be thoughtful about why and how you blog. After the diagnosis of the situation he prompts corporations to have non-corporate seeming blogs! I will let you think about that for a moment while I offer my take on the situation.
- "among regular blog readers (at least once a month), 24% trust company blogs. Among bloggers themselves, 39% trust them."
Regular members and contributors of the groundswell, to use Josh's term, won't be very surprised by this data . I hope Josh was not surprised either, that is not clear from his post. Like the groundswell member next to me, I visit blogs like "blogs.forrester.com/groundswell/" and "http://thinkitservices.blogspot.com/" periodically. I trust these blogs and engage with the respective authors who are surely not Mr.Burns type, but are authentic individuals willing to partake in a discussion.
In my view corporate blogs can only improve if corporate policies at least (1) facilitate percolation of thoughts from the groundswell to decision makers inside the firms four walls and (2) encourage current employees to blog. After all isn't a blog just the venue to share authentic thoughts among individuals? In my view
blog = human beings + dialogue
When I looked at the data presented in the study my surprise is not that corporate blogs are untrustworthy. I am surprised that they are less trustworthy than company emails, direct mail, and online classifieds! This I think is the result of construct validity of the instrument used for this study.