Ouch. As the author of The Corporate Blogging Book, I ought to be upset about this. But I'm not. Forrester's new report, Time to Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas, says that only 16% of consumers trust company blogs and that they rank dead last in terms of marketing channels. See chart below.
Yep. That's below consumers' trust level in promotional emails, direct mail (!), and online classifieds. Why? Well, the answer is obvious.
Many corporate blogs are A. boring and B. not credible. They're written in corporate speak. And they gush about the company or its products or services (what I call widgets). Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff blogs about his new report, encouraging companies "to be thoughtful in how and why you blog."
And that's precisely the point I make in my book: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR WIDGETS!
What they do care about are interesting insights about your industry, issues related to your widgets (Dell has a new and entertaining blog called Digital Nomads*), the human smarts inside your company.
As I write on page 155:
"Increasingly, the new marketing - whether it's blogging or podcasting or video - overlaps with our consumption of news and entertainment. Corporate blogging done right should not feel like a marketing experience. It should come across as the inside story, the pulse, the personality of your company."
- from The Corporate Blogging Book
Secondly, saying that consumers don't trust corporate blogs is kind of like saying that people don't trust advertising. Well, duh. We've been talking about that (cf the Cluetrain Manifesto) for a decade now.
Read, Write, Web takes a slightly critical view of Forrester's report, noting that it's "a little unsatisfactory. Trust has to be earned and some corporations are actively making the effort to do that. As a result, there are some corporate blogs that you trust more than others. To claim that corporate blogs are the least trustworthy information source on the planet seems unfair - and untrue in many cases."
The Blog Council responds to the thumbs-down on corporate blogs with its list of members blogs, calling them "trustworthy." By and large, I'd agree.
Jeremiah Owyang also weighs in with a post about the new report, saying he has mixed feelings - as he was previously in charge of corporate blogging for Hitachi.
I've created a Big List of Big Brand Corporate Blogs which you can peruse. Obviously, more work needs to be done to point out what works and what doesn't on corporate blogs. And to measure their effectiveness.
And (here's the promotional bit) I wish more corporate types wading into social media would read my book ($6.49 on Amazon). Especially Chapter 7 on how to write an effective corporate blog.
* Full disclosure: I've penned a post for Digital Nomads on Finding Your Nomadic Rhythm.