About a month ago, I wrote on this blog about credibility and its importance for B2B marketers. Credibility came to mind again as I read a review of a new book, Virtual Unreality, by Charles Seife. The book’s subtitle says it all: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know It’s True?
Although the book is about the broader theme of how easy it is for bad information to spread on the internet, whether accidentally or maliciously, one paragraph in the review brought me back to the importance of credibility for marketers.
One of Mr. Seife’s bedrock themes is the Internet’s dismissal, for good and ill, of the concept of authority. On Wikipedia, your Uncle Iggy can edit the page on black holes as easily as Stephen Hawking can. Serious reporting, another form of authority, is withering because it’s so easy to cut and paste facts from other writers, or simply to provide commentary, and then game search engine results so that readers find your material first.
That bit about it being “so easy to cut and paste” from other sources is key.
- First and foremost, any time you are curating or otherwise making use of someone else’s work, do all you can to attribute it correctly.
- Fact check any data you are putting out there. Corroborate with multiple sources, at the very least.
- Don’t go crazy over others having mis-appropriated your work, but don’t ignore it, either. Your chances of prevailing legally in any meaningful way are pretty slim. But you may win a new fan – and a new key influencer …
- Most of all, remember that a significant slice of your audience has been burned and will look for any signs of credibility they can. Be sure your content and presentation give them every reason to believe that you know what you’re talking about.