Why people don’t trust “bloggers”

Jeremiah Owyang claims that people don’t trust bloggers. To back up this claim, he cites three market research studies showing that when given a choice, people would choose to listen to their friends and family rather than “bloggers”. The three studies were done by respected marketing research companies: Forrester, Edelman, and Pollara. They all agree […]

Jeremiah Owyang claims that people don’t trust bloggers. To back up this claim, he cites three market research studies showing that when given a choice, people would choose to listen to their friends and family rather than “bloggers”.

The three studies were done by respected marketing research companies: Forrester, Edelman, and Pollara. They all agree on the same thing: that bloggers just don’t elicit much trust when compared to other sources of information.

I can’t help but think that these studies weighted the questions…oh just a little bit. I mean, who would trust someone based solely on the fact that they happen to write a blog? Does merely creating a blogger account and whipping out a few blog posts make one a trusted authority on…anything? Of course not.

It’s kind of like asking: “Who do you trust more: a family member or someone who can use wordpress?”. The question just doesn’t teach us anything new. So the reason why people don’t trust “bloggers” in the context of these studies is because they don’t know who those bloggers are.

Now, Jeremiah’s point was to push back on the unfortunate conventional wisdom that merely writing a blog means you’re having an authentic conversation with an audience. This focus on technology over interaction is the problem with social media marketing, and Jeremiah was right to push back on that. But I don’t believe that bloggers don’t have trust. Of course bloggers have some level of trust. The people who trust them are their audience. (I’m sure Jeremiah sure hopes that his audience trusts him)

So, if instead of asking a meaningless question these studies asked “Do you trust bloggers who you read regularly/subscribe to?” most people would answer that they do. But that’s not what the studies asked…they asked about a faceless, nameless, random blogger. Not only is this a poor question, but it puts the entire studies under a shadow of doubt. It’s almost as if the question were asked just so that the researchers could come to that conclusion.

What bloggers don’t have, and what the studies might show, is automatic trust. Joe Blogger doesn’t automatically have permission to talk to you simply because he knows how to use WordPress. Blogging is about relationships, like most of life, and you need to earn any respect and permission you get.

There are few shortcuts here. But let’s not swing the pendulum completely the other way and suggest that bloggers aren’t trusted at all. The reality is that you have to prove yourself with each action, over time, building up trust and experience slowly, steadily. If it were any other way, then the word trust wouldn’t mean anything.

Published: April 30th, 2008

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