Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Blog Police

Blogging is earning a unique place in the hierarchy of marketing tools. Not too long ago, a corporate blog was seen as something that that the kids were doing down on the first floor. The grey-beards were intrigued and impressed with the display of initiative, but didn't pay much attention to the activity.

Now the perspective is that a blog is a necessary ... even indispensable ... part of the overall marketing strategy. They create an informal and seemingly natural conversation about the company, which fills in the overall brand image in the consumer's mind. Blogs don't replace traditional media, but they help to complete the picture.

But even though blogs are critically important, there are thousands of smaller companies that don't produce them. Why? When they would stand to benefit the most from them? Simply, it takes time to write. I have barely written over the past 6 months. The firm I work for has amazing expertise and a remarkable breadth of knowledge across the team. Yet, there is no Hartman Blog. So it is no surprise that a micro-industry has risen up to fill this need.

But a blog posting has no requirement for accuracy in and of itself. And frankly, there are many, many bad writers out there.* So, a group of concerned - and self-interested - people came together to form the Internet Content Syndication Council (ICSC) back in 2007. Earlier this year, they published a document calling for some sort of reviewing authority that would certify blogs as being of acceptable quality. "Low-quality content can pollute the information ecosystem," as one of their members once said. They believe that this process will somehow protect readers from being misled.

But who will certify the ICSC certifiers? What gives them the authority to separate accurate opinions from inaccurate ones? How will they keep their personal biases - or corporate agendas - from influencing their decisions?

I believe that readers are smart enough to distinguish truth from fiction and facts from opinion. The internet needs no blog police to give their stamp of approval to my posts or to anyone else's. Bloggers who routinely lie lose readership. That's all the policing we need.

A related article at AdWeek: Council to Counter Web 'Content Mills'?
* On a scale of 1 to 10, I give myself, on average, a 7.5. I have definitely produced some high-quality posts, but I also have published more than my fair share of atrocious writing.

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