Linklings: Trust, Disclosure and Pain

DISCLOSURE BREEDS TRUST. John Chow’s post on blog credibility highlights the need for transparency in blogging and points out the often overlooked importance of the About page. As we all begin to use more and more social networks, a centralized “About Me” page is going to be more important. Identity is the foundation of trust — the more people know about you, anxiety is removed from the trust relationship. One of the things that has helped to instill trust in Chow by his readers in spite of his “slightly evil” money-making approaches is the radical openness he shares with readers about his dreams, monthly profits and even what he has for dinner.

CASH ENHANCES SOCIAL STAKE: Jack Humphrey outlined a couple social sites with revenue sharing amongst the membership. Eventually, this will probably be the norm as the promise of money is alluring and eventually market forces and increasing awareness about the value of content are going to force websites to reward active participants and content creators in some fashion in order to stay competitive. This is all made possible by the increased efficiency of monetization techniques, spearheaded by Google AdSense. I think a great parallel can be made to the impact of 401k programs and online brokerages on the investment community in the U.S. Once it became easy for the everyday Jack or Jill to invest in stock, the stock market truly went mainstream. I suspect in a few years a big chunk of everyday Internet users will become defacto Internet Marketers.

PLEASE TAKE THE PAIN OUT OF THE SOCIAL WEB: Let’s face it. Social Media isn’t as fun as it could be. Sometimes it feels like work. Let’s say I really like something — a swirl of the mouse and tap, tap, tap I’ve Dugg it. Swirl, tap, tap, it’s Sphunn. Another tap stumbled. Should I bookmark it in delicious too? Maybe Twitter it out? There are a lot of great communities out there, but participating in them as actively as I’d like makes me feel like a hamster in a wheel. But, good news! Web 3.0 is going to solve everything. Intelligent agents, microformats, and increases in the ability for software to analyse what the heck it is we are saying are all going to contribute to the solution. I’ve blogged about this before, but in a nutshell Web 1.0 gave us the power to broadcast. Web 2.0 to communicate and invoke the “wisdom of the crowds”. Web 3.0 is going to be about making the whole mess moremanageable and truly ingrain it in our lives. The difference is going to be immense — like going from DOS to Windows or the Apple II to a Mac. See Valeria Maltoni’s take on the emergence of Web 3.0 and the upcoming era of artificial intelligence agents.

GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS YOUR SOAPBOX: The Social Media Optimization blog analyzed a Clickz piece about Bath & Body that I think is a really great case study. Bath & Body experimented with adding a user review system to one of their new product launches and found that the campaign surrounding the launch outperformed their other campaigns by increasing sales 10-12%. Of course, if the new flip-flop they rolled out was low quality junkwear, those numbers may have been a bit different. Low quality, thy days are numbered… These days, quality pays.

LINKS ARE VOTES OF TRUST: Over the course of showing how to persuade a blogger to link to you, Liz Strauss noted that links are votes of trust. This all reminds me of my problem with Google’s “war on paidlinkism”. Nofollow connotes a lack of trust — it is a second class link that states to a search engine and to onlookers savvy enough to see them that I don’t think the link is worth following. In order to illustrate the need to stamp out links from paid posts, Matt Cutts identified some really shady examples. I think he misses the whole point. You can have shady posts are free as well. There are Pay-Per-Post bloggers such as Andy Beard that gladly stake their reputation behind their reviews. I don’t really have a problem with Google using paid posts/paid links as a potential signal of lack of quality. But there are many factors that they should consider before they slander a website in their toolbar or dampen it in their rankings. Their goal should be to identify trustworthy sites, not to punish honest bloggers.

Linklings are short takes on the past week in Social Media Marketing.