Blogs and trust
The top issue in 2007 for marketers is trust. The confluence of social media, aggressive marketers and the community of the blogsphere is creating a whirlpool of contentious issues. The bottom line here is trust, and whether marketing will taint the blogsphere, which people are increasingly using to exchange information and ultimately, make buying decisions.
This podcast highlights how social media are going through a phase where marketers are going to be challenged to use tactics that do not harm the objective nature of individuals communicating. We've seen several instances of flogs (fake blogs, or commercial blogs that are posted as if they were from truly objective, unattached people/employees) being publicly criticized for trying to come off as an unsponsored forum, Edelman and Wal-Mart being perhaps the most infamous. (Blogger Constantin Basturea has a wonderful chronology.) There will be further concern about whether companies should blog and how they should do it.
In this podcast, Nora Paul, director of the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota, outlines how the area between promotion and program are now one large shade of gray. However, she says this is no different than the expansion and contraction the Web has seen before.
Ben Popken, editor of The Consumerist, a cutting-edge blog on consumer complaints and praise (subtitled "Shoppers bite back"), sheds light on how some leading companies can capitalize on trust. His take: If companies can take a little public criticism, then they will get back trust ten-fold.
Also, I'll be speaking at the New Communications Forum in Las Vegas, March 7-9, and one lucky marketer will win a trip to attend the Forum for free. Visit www.providentpartners.net/forum for details and to enter your name to win airfare, hotel and event registration.
- 1:00-2:15: New Communications Forum trip drawing information
- 2:20-8:00: The issue of trust – the gray area between promotion and programming. Why marketers should care about the erosion of trust and how to prevent it using social media. Interview with Nora Paul of the University of Minnesota's Institute for New Media Studies.
- 8:00-9:15: Consumers hold more power than they realize. How companies can tap into this power and leverage it will be tested throughout this year. Ben Popken of consumerist.com explains how those companies can give up some message control and gain a major differentiator by using blogs.
- 9:15-10:52: More information about the New Communications Forum. Each comment we receive by any means – on the blog, by phone at 651-695-0174, e-mail email@example.com – we will donate a food item to a local food bank. Social media for the greater good!