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.

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Previous Comments

Russell said on December 10, 2008 at 01:11 PM

Ouch, bottom of the pile! But what I think this shows is the mileage that can be had by a corporate blog being honest and _building_ trust. I will also re-read Chapter 7 of your book, not that I’m a corporate blogger tho.. ;-)

Michael said on December 10, 2008 at 03:35 PM

Very interesting. Not surprisingly the most trusted results appear to be mostly 3rd party recommendations (e-mail, product ratings, newspapers).

In their book, Scoble and Israel also recommend avoiding corporate speak - saying that corporate blogs shouldn’t be housed in marketing departments. This makes sense to keep the blogs authentic, but how many companies really want to give their employees permission to blog whatever they want?

Chris Baggott said on December 10, 2008 at 05:04 PM

I love that the Yellow Pages crushes Corporate Blogging on Trust….what?  We don’t even trust a business blog to get the contact information right??

Actually, that’s something we joke about here all the time…how many Corporate Blogs don’t have navigation or give email addresses to reach out and take the next step in the relationship…(go check out Debbie’s list if you doubt me)

But I also love Jason’s points on talking about the customer and employee’s as bloggers.  Remember, Richard Edelman said that employee bloggers are 5 times more credible than C-level bloggers…

more on my post: http://blogging.compendiumblog.com/blog/blogging-best-practices/0/0/time-to-rethink-your-corporate-blogging-ideas

Thanks Debbie

Debbie Weil said on December 11, 2008 at 11:42 AM


Thanks for weighing in. Enjoyed your post. Somehow this makes me think of the phrase: “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Corporate blogging, done right, is a heckuva lot more interesting than the yellow pages, IMHO.

Wayne Smallman said on December 12, 2008 at 02:51 AM

Clear evidence — if ever any was needed —  that you only get out of a system what you put in.

And in the case of some corporate blogs (obviously some very notable and well-trafficked blogs, to affect the research in this way), it sounds to me like they’re just dumping the copy from their printed collateral into a blog article…

Josh Bernoff said on December 12, 2008 at 04:09 PM

Thanks for not piling on. As long as mindless blogs proliferate, there will be plenty of people needing your help to get it right!

Robert Ford said on December 12, 2008 at 07:02 PM

I got your book in the mail today, just as I was reading the Forrester report. I ended up blogging about both at http://charliefourwhiskey.com.

Great book.. wonderful read.. lots of great examples and take aways.

My feeling is that the law of big numbers is working against us here. What I mean by that is that as the number of corporate blogs grows dramatically, I suspect that the ratio of good ones (i.e. open, transparent, authentic) to bad ones remains pretty much the same, and the law of big numbers means that that translates into an awful lot of not-so-good ones.

Tina Fountain said on December 21, 2008 at 07:39 AM

Way back when I was in school, we were taught that word-of-mouth was the most trusted form of advertising, I guess it’s still true today, only the method of delivery has changed!

Scott Moroney said on December 25, 2008 at 05:03 PM

Not surprised.  Corporate blogs need to be driven by interesting people in the eyes of their customers.  CEO blogs are generally boring, not read and not taken seriously.  I would like to see corporate blogs driven by technologist’s, people that make things happen in markets and groups of people than can affect something (create a dialogue on a topic that accomplishes something).  Press releases and canned statements are dead, online and offline in most cases.

Chris said on April 22, 2009 at 09:58 PM

When the author of this article say “NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR WIDGETS!” I just relate it with Robin Sharma’s famous quote “Who will cry when u die”. The corporate blogs should focus on delivering reliable info rather than implementing hided marketing strategies. 


Dave said on April 26, 2009 at 11:04 AM

The chart given in the article clearly depicts the reliability of the corporate blogs. Market research done in the first half of 2006 indicated that 34% of large companies had established weblogs. Another 35% planned to do so by the end of 2006, thus bringing the total to nearly 70%. Imagine what percentage it would be now. Corporate blogs are published to meet organizational goals. So, they never bother about educating viewers, but just ventilate their own brand and products. It is also a worrying fact that only 33% trust information given in wikis.
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Nick said on May 6, 2009 at 02:03 AM

Yes. In most of the corporate blogs we don’t find any informative news. The creators of those blogs just focus on marketing and traffic rather than giving quality products. I believe this is the main reason for their failure to score marks [16% trust level].  This is the high time to think about.
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I’ve been writing about corporate and CEO blogging and business use of social media for over a decade. I welcome your Comments if they are on topic. I delete them if inappropriate or spammy.


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