Should people trust companies just because they blog?

by Lee Hopkins on July 9, 2006 · 4 comments

in miscellaneous

trust me, I'm a blogger I ask this because I have just visited Gerry Murray’s ‘The Captain’s Log’ blog (Gerry is IABC Belgium’s President). Gerry was mentioned by Allan in one of our recent chats and Gerry is just returning the favour.

Back last month Gerry interviewed Simon McDermott, the MD of Attentio (a blogosphere monitoring company who offer a suite of subscription-only reports that can monitor the depth, reach and commentary about and around your brand and industry).

I noticed that Attentio (quite appropriately) has its own blog. It is not alone in this — it would be the foolish company in the ‘social media’ space that doesn’t itself engage in ‘the conversation’.

And with absolutely NO hint of gnostic insight into their business AT ALL, nor any suggestion of the merest hint of scandal, I use them as a launching pad for a question to my fellow conversationalists: should we trust a company just because they have a blog and seem willing to join in conversation with their publics?

Should we trust a company that blogs any more or any less than we treat individuals? After all, companies have an open agenda — they are a business entity. Individuals, on the other hand, ostensibly have no agenda. Individuals are the ‘voice of truth and integrity’ that “keeps the bastards honest” as we say here in Australia.

(Yes, we swear a lot in Australia — what with our ‘bloody’ and our ‘bastard’ and so on. And to be called a ‘bastard’ by someone you are friendly with is the highest form of flattery and a sign of true friendship! I kid you not!)

Now, A-list uber-blogger Robert Scoble (his ‘Second Life’ slip not withstanding) recently showed his ethical ‘true colours’ by listing the various offers (to blog favourably in return for swag) he has rejected. And Scoble is a widely-read blogger, although that may change now that he’s no longer the ‘face of Microsoft’ to the blogosphere; personally I will still read him because a) he’s so well connected and b) he’s a great honest, open, warts-n-all read — “Did I really pick my nose on camera?“, and this:

Could I have emailed her, yes. But I’m a public person and I talk about issues that are of interest to all of us. Is it a messy process, yes. Have I given one side of the issue? Yes. (I tried to give Beth’s side in the podcast, though, and would be happy to link to Linden Labs’ blog where they talk about it from their side).

Would I encourage parents with kids to let them run around Second Life. No. There’s way too much sex and adult behavior and it’s too easy for a kid to pretend he or she is an adult and get into situations that they would not be prepared for. It’d be like dropping Patrick [his son] into Las Vegas or New York and letting him walk around by himself.

Also, I was explicitly breaking the rules and accept the consequences.

But if our propensity is to trust individuals over companies, then what if that individual has a ‘secret’ agenda we know nothing about? I remember that this topic was one of the first posts I wrote when I first started blogging waaaay back when… (about 16 months ago).

So should we? Should we trust individuals over companies? Should we trust a company just because they blog or podcast? Should we trust an individual just because they blog or podcast?

Over to you…


Welcome back, A. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.


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  • http://www.attentio.com/ Simon

    Hi Lee,

    I would say that companies that blog have a propensity for honesty but blogging itself doesn’t make a company honest.

    We started blogging as a way for us to write about our space and where possible collect insights for people who read the blog. We write pieces on why companies can benefit from blog tracking but we also specify the free tools that are available. In a way even the most passionate bloggers are asking companies to blog to show a human face, we believe in that.

    Perhaps company blogs that publish all of their comments are more likely to be honest than companies that just blog. It is one step closer to a genuine conversation…

    Simon McDermott
    Attentio

  • http://www.attentio.com Simon

    Hi Lee,

    I would say that companies that blog have a propensity for honesty but blogging itself doesn’t make a company honest.

    We started blogging as a way for us to write about our space and where possible collect insights for people who read the blog. We write pieces on why companies can benefit from blog tracking but we also specify the free tools that are available. In a way even the most passionate bloggers are asking companies to blog to show a human face, we believe in that.

    Perhaps company blogs that publish all of their comments are more likely to be honest than companies that just blog. It is one step closer to a genuine conversation…

    Simon McDermott
    Attentio

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    Hey Simon,

    Thanks for commenting. I agree with you that companies who currently blog are more likely to be more honest because of their desire to enter into conversations, even at the risk of negative commentary.

    My concern is, perhaps a couple of years from now, when it is almost mandatory to have a corporate blog (like having a website became mandatory six or so years ago) — should we necessarily trust them then?

    Keep up the good work and keep fighting the good fight!

    Cheers,
    Lee

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    Hey Simon,

    Thanks for commenting. I agree with you that companies who currently blog are more likely to be more honest because of their desire to enter into conversations, even at the risk of negative commentary.

    My concern is, perhaps a couple of years from now, when it is almost mandatory to have a corporate blog (like having a website became mandatory six or so years ago) — should we necessarily trust them then?

    Keep up the good work and keep fighting the good fight!

    Cheers,
    Lee

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