New research from Forrester suggests that business blogging could well be a waste of time. It seems that only 16% of Internet users trust what they read on business blogs. And – worse – this is the lowest trust rating for any web content.
What the study reveals is a huge thumbs down for blogging. So should you carry on?
There is no doubt that the lack of trust is down to the appalling way in which many businesses have used blogs. Big businesses in particular has a lot to answer for here. They have abused blogging substantially by publishing “puffery” and biased drivel. It smacks of a lack of understanding of what blogging is – and a lack of thought as to what the visitors might want to read.
Here’s the big mistake that has led to this massive lack of trust in business blogs: most business blogs are about the business and its products. Wrong. Your web site visitors don’t want to read about you, your business or your products and services. Instead, they want to read about their world, the way they can get the best from your products and services or how they can improve their lives with your products and services. In other words, blogs that are focused on the audience work – those that are focused on the business don’t wash.
Psychological research on trustworthiness consistently shows that the most trusted people are those who focus their conversation, their efforts and their entire thinking on the other person. If we meet at a social event and I spend the whole evening talking about myself, you will dislike me, distrust me and avoid me like the plague in future.
But if we meet and I spend the evening talking about you and your world, you would like me, trust me and want to spend more time with me.
Blogging is no different – it’s a conversation with your readers. So, if your blog focuses on your business it is going top be distrusted. Focus your blog on the world your readers inhabit and – hey presto – your readers will trust you.
Many businesses have also failed to realise that blogging is not about having a page on their web site which is a “journal” or the only page which shows “personality”. Blogging is content management. Indeed, many of the best sites are built using blogging software but don’t call themselves a blog. The entire BBC News web site is, in effect, a huge blog. But we trust it because it doesn’t claim to be a blog.
So here’s what to do to build trust in your business blog (while the big corporates go and cry in a corner claiming that blogging doesn’t work).
Firstly, find out what really turns your audience on. What do they want to know about? Then write about that.
Secondly, use blogging software as content management so that everyone in the business can post useful items based on the reading requirements of your visitors. In this way you will get a business blog that attracts readers who trust you. In other words, don’t see blogging as an “add on” to your web site; instead see it as central to your business. That way you will engender trust in your blog – and see your business boom as a result.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+