How Long Until Truthful Information Becomes Worthless?

Photo cred: Diego Sevilla Ruiz

Hypothetical situation: You trust me. I post an article somewhere. Your trust for me then translates to trust in the content I’m sharing, and so you trust that the article is credible. Then you share it, your readers trust you…rinse, and repeat.

Safe to say this happens often?

Today, credibility in content is determined by who and how many share it. As credibility becomes increasingly determined by sharability the value of the truth is driven downward.

Look at it from a basic economic perspective. As the supply of information increases, the price of information decreases. Supply is at an all time high, price is at an all time low. As the price of information decreases, the resources used to provide quality information becomes unaffordable. If consumers don’t pay for information, suppliers can’t invest any money to ensure its credibility.

Truthful information has never faced the competition it faces today. As citizen journalism grows as a primary source for information, the need for investigative journalism as a paid alternative decreases.

Bloggers do not have to write truthful content. In fact, many of the most successful (popular) blogs focus on SEO and on writing successful copy in order to drive ad revenue, product and affiliate sales. Their “success” in driving traffic then translates to credibility in the eyes of the reader. If a blogger gets a ton of traffic, they must be credible, right?

They’re writing to get more people to come to their site, with absolutely no check on honesty.

Truthful content still exists, but is often buried under google pages of the popular stuff. Even if you refused to take information at face value, and choose to dig deeper in search of the truth, chances are you won’t find it.

As you become more reliant on social networks to determine what information is worthy of reading, you play into a system that has minimal consideration for credibility.

Where honesty should reign supreme, popularity now drives authority and credibility.

How much longer until truthful information becomes completely worthless?

The Blogger and the Box Salesman

A lesson in spreading your content.

The blog post title and link will be played by The Box

The blog post content will be played by The Stuff Inside The Box

The blogger will be played by The Box Salesmen

curtain
Photo cred: Kersten A. Riechers

Scenario 1

Box salesman: Hello sir, would you mind selling these enclosed boxes for me?

Sir: I have no idea what’s in those boxes…get away from me weirdo.

Scenario 2

Box salesman: Hello sir, would you mind taking a look in this box?

Sir: I don’t know who you are. What if there are bees in that box. Nothxbye

Scenario 3

Box salesman: Hello sir, would you like to have a drink on me?

Sir: Sure why not.

…a drink and a chat later…

Sir: What’s in those boxes?

Box salesman: Here…Take a look!

Sir: Wow…infinite wisdom! I’m going to share these with everyone!

Box salesman: HOORAH!

For those not so theatrically inclined…

Photo cred: Douglas Porter

Scenario 1 = Worst. Don’t ask someone to share (retweet) your post.
Scenario 2 = Better. Share your post with them, without asking them to share it…but if they don’t know you, they don’t trust you yet, and they probably won’t even look.

Scenario 3 = Best. Show interest in the person. Get to know them a little bit.  If you engage with the person, you won’t even have to ask them to look at your post.

Summary: If you don’t know someone, don’t ask them to share your post.  If you do know someone, and they haven’t shared your post already, just ask them to read it and leave it up to them if they’d like to share it or not.

Tip: Choose people that would actually be interested in your post, and ask them for their opinion on the topic.

Don’t Ask, Just Share

Photo cred: Keith Allison
Photo cred: Keith Allison

If Kobe gets open for a shot, should he yell “Pass me the ball!”? No…he needs to make the ball handler aware of the opportunity so that he can decide what to do.  As lame as that sounded, same goes for reaching out to a blogger.

Chances are the blogger knows that you’re pitching them before they even open the email.  Bloggers are used to receiving pitches and the experienced ones know exactly what they expect in a good pitch.  Ultimately they know that you’re emailing them because you’d like them to write a post about your company or product. One thing bloggers definitely don’t like is being told what to blog about.

Depending on the situation, it might be good to come right out and just ask the blogger to write a post; but sometimes it’s best not to ask for anything at all.  If you’ve done your job correctly, you’re pitching this blogger because you already know that their readers would be interested in whatever it is you’re pitching.  If this is true, the blogger will want to write a post about it regardless of whether or not you ask them to.  Describe your product and explain how it might be valuable to their audience.  If they don’t want to write an entire post about it, they may be interested in sharing it within another post or sharing it elsewhere.  There are a number of opportunities.

If you describe your product and then end the email asking them to write a post about it, they may just decide it’s not worthy of a post and move on.  You’re only focusing on one option.  They’ll be much more receptive to an email that aims to do nothing more than share information about a valuable product, and that doesn’t push them to do anything.  Bloggers love to share and if it really is valuable, the request isn’t necessary…they WILL share. (Just like if Kobe is open, they WILL pass)

Do you agree?

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Why Scribnia Is Valuable To ME

scribniaIf you haven’t heard the big news from my last post, I’ve been hired as the community manager for Scribnia.  Perhaps because of my newly acquired position, you may think that a review of Scribnia on my blog may be biased…fair enough.  I hope that if you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know I wouldn’t post anything that I didn’t think would be valuable to the community.  Either way, I’m not going to tell you that Scribnia is awesome, or that you have to go sign up, or even that it would be valuable to you as a blogger/reader.  I’m going to tell you why Scribnia is valuable to me, as a blogger and reader, and I’ll let you decide whether or not it’s valuable to you too.  Fair?

Value as a Blogger

  1. Transparency. One of the big values of “social media”, bloggers are expected to be transparent and gain respect and loyalty for doing so.  I’m open with my community members about who I am, my honest views, or any bias that I might have.  When people write a review about me on Scribnia, they are increasing my transparency, allowing new readers to feel more comfortable when visiting my blog for the first time.
  2. Learn how I’m viewed by my readers. I might have a bias that I didn’t realize existed.  My readers might be looking for different kinds of posts.  They aren’t necessarily going to come out and tell me what they think of my writing.  Scribnia is a call to action, where your readers are asked to share their opinions.  You can add a “rate me” widget to your blog and encourage your readers to share their thoughts.
  3. SEO.  My Scribnia page will come up when people search for my name on search engines (once the site goes public).
  4. Engage conversation about YOU. I’ve told businesses before that their customers are talking about their brand online and that they need to engage the conversation.  Time to practice what I preach.  If my readers care enough to share their thoughts about me as a blogger on Scribnia, I have the opportunity to convert negative views into positive ones, and to further engage with my community.  Danny Brown does a great job of joining the conversation about him and responding to reviews of his work.

Value as a Reader

  1. Find new bloggers. A lot of recommendation engines that I’ve seen base much of the recommendation on content, without really taking into account my personal reading preferences.  Scribnia takes the reviews that I’ve written, and based on how high or low I’ve ranked different aspects of each author, other authors that might be valuable to me are proposed.  I can also browse by category or industry to find new bloggers and publications.
  2. Share. I love to suggest bloggers that I follow to others.  When Scribnia users view my profile, they can see all the reviews that I’ve written, which bloggers I like or don’t like and why.  Linking people to other bloggers is great, but it  helps to show them why I like those bloggers.  (Tip: Try it out on Twitter… next #followfriday, give your recommendation’s twitter name and provide a link to their Scribnia page)
  3. Preview bloggers.  There are a lot of author profiles I have come across that don’t have a very good “about” description.  I’d have to read multiple posts before really understanding what the blog is about and the blogger’s style.  This is especially time consuming when doing blogger outreach.  Bloggers typically condemn misplaced pitches to their blogs and the last thing you want is to anger the bloggers in the community you’re reaching out to.  By reviewing an author’s Scribnia profile, you can learn a little bit more about a blogger before contacting them giving you a better understanding of what they find valuable.

All in all, I accepted the job of Community Manager for Scribnia for a number of reasons, one being because I thought it provides a valuable service that bloggers would really appreciate.  We are trying to build a blogging community for authors, readers and their networks to connect, share and grow.  Once we have developed a solid amount of quality content, Scribnia will be open to the pulic.  If you think you’d be a quality contributing member of the alpha community, send me an email at dspinks5@gmail.com for an invite.

You can find my Scribnia page here.  Review me…I dare you. (=

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