Be You and Be Credible

There appears to be a bit of a debate as to whether “experts” need to take control of the web from “amateurs”. Some blame the proliferation of websites, blogs, wikis and social networks for mass dissemination of false information, scams and all things bad in the web world. While this may be true, to a point, so-called experts, especially in the news media, report erroneous facts and over-sensationalize stories constantly.

But I can understand the argument. The internet allows us to be anonymous if we choose. We can rant and make snide comments like we did in the back of the classroom in junior high, and no one will know it was us. How cool is that!

We can use technology to game ranking systems, such as what happened on Amazon.com four years ago.

Some prefer the anonymity for privacy purposes. Yes, if no one can verify who you are, then you can say pretty much whatever you want without fear of retribution. But how seriously can we take your opinion if you’re not willing to say who you are. And random people on the internet may not care.

You, dear marketer, are different. I’m not going to bore you with the blah, blah, blah of your ethical responsibility and such.

Instead, I’m going to encourage you to contribute content as yourself. If you’re a publisher, go on retailers’ sites and talk about why you chose to publish the book and what you hope readers will get from it. And be honest. If it’s a simple beach read, say so.

Product managers, engage customers and reviewers. Talk about what excites you about the product, what it does and doesn’t do and what to look for in the future. Avoid the urge to simply hype.

Sites that allow for comments have a responsibility as well to moderate. Allow for differing opinions, but remove the hit-and-run comments that don’t contribute to the conversation. Not as a form of censorship, though. More like protecting the site from graffiti. Maybe invite specific people to offer their thoughts, particularly as a rebuttal to what’s been said.

Being yourself, fostering conversations, gives credibility to what you say. And when someone posts unflattering material about your product, your responses have more weight.

As an added benefit, you’ll do a better job of targeting your customers and releasing solid products.

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