It’s time to wrap up this series on truth and trust in content. Over the past few posts I’ve talked about how truth appears differently to people, based on their personal perspective, and to report truth you need to view it from multiple angles. I’ve also showed how modern media lacks the resources to gather that information adequately and how corporations, once dedicated to limiting that access through their marketing, now find it in their best interest to increase the flow of trusted information.
Let me set the table.
Content marketing is not SEO. Tara Meehan’s post in iMedia Connection demonstrated how companies measure social on SEO metrics of clicks and unique visitors in the form of likes and followers, neither of which has the value they did 5 years ago. This decreased value in SEO metrics is exacerbated by companies buying fake followers and B2B publishers paying people to comment and like content to boost their engagement. This approach ultimately fails after a certain period of growth because those companies don’t provide anything worth reading.
Trust thrives in social media. Brian Solis wrote recently that trust is the the most important issue in content development but corporations that focus on search to bring people to websites, fail to engender trust because people don’t trust corporate website content. People trust people they know so that’s who they go to first. Search comes after social now and social is all about content.
Tech journalism isn’t what it used to be. Tom Foremski wrote that tech journalism has devolved to be a practice of product announcements rather than why those products exist and how native advertising is destroying the level of trust for third-party media. He stops short of pointing out that tech publications are so short of writers that they can do little else and native advertising is paying the bills, but his point is that the current paradigm has reduced the value of tech journalism.
That’s why this is a great time to be a journalist.
Media houses assume they are still trusted and that their move to “communities” filled with sponsor-developed content has not hurt that position. That assumption is misplaced. Few people trust journalists in general and B2B corporate sales staff are learning that what shows up in the press is much less believable because native advertising is becoming harder to differentiate from independent reporting. Rather than wonder what the media will do to reverse that trend, corporations are learning they can do the job better by hiring or contracting with experienced journalists to do what they do best: find the news and report it accurately. Corporations have more relevant sources of content than the media. All they need is the personnel to turn that content into trustworthy media.
Some technology companies have started putting journalists on retainer to develop engaging content that builds relationship and trust for the corporation. Others are hiring them outright to run content programs. They don’t need million-reader circulations because they know who they want to reach and it’s much lower than a million.
That is great news for all the journalists who want a position that gives them the time and resources to do what they’ve been trained to do and be paid what they are worth. As I’ve said, corporations are already finding the value in independent, in-house and consultant journalists and they are paying top dollar for them. Working with this new breed of journalism requires accepting a level of ethics and independence of thought not normally found in marketing departments but is absolutely necessary for a successful outcome. If we can’t be independent, what we create has no value to the sponsor or the reader.
Traditional third-party media businesses are becoming the training ground for new journalists. There will be an ongoing market demand for product-announcement venues that reach thousands of users so the online and print pubs won’t be going away, but corporations don’t need those venues to establish relationships and trust within their customer base. They need people who know how to find truth wherever it is and report it, be transparent, and act independently for the benefit of the community.
Trustworthy content is the core of Footwasher Media’s business. If you are interested in moving your business communications into the 21st century, contact us today.