On Reputation, Influence, Trust and Credibility in the Blogosphere

Several months ago a friend and colleague with a popular freelance writing blog sent me a letter saying how upset she was that I left a nasty anonymous comment under one of her blog posts. The next day, it happened again. To say I was confused is an understatement especially since I was away during one of those times. We did a little sleuthing and I learned someone I trusted in my home was going to blogs and forums as an anonymous me, making rude remarks.

Today this situation still weighs heavily on my mind. Such things can ruin my credibility as a blogger. If my blogging colleagues and community didn’t know me for all these years, and if I didn’t work so hard to build up trust, claiming another person trolled from my laptop would sound like a b.s. story. (Actually it probably still does, but go with me, I promise I have a point….)

I think about trust and influence quite a bit. It’s why I won’t play the expert card. It’s why I don’t believe in saying my way is the right way or the only way. A lot of people put their trust in me to give them information. Many writers in this community thank me for my advice. But is it the right advice? I only share what I know worked for me, how do I know my course is the best course to take? This is something I think about often. I worry about losing trust, such as with the situation mentioned above, but I worry more about my influence.

I mean, what if I’m wrong?

What if my way of doing things isn’t the right way? When I share tips, I’m sharing my success. My way isn’t traditional, though. What if I’m steering you wrong? Maybe my way isn’t a good way at all.

We put a lot of faith in people we don’t know.  We have our idols and our gurus. We follow certain online people because they’re famous or because everyone else says to follow them. What if they’re talking out of their butts? We only know who they are by what they tell us. What if they have us all fooled?

I attend many conferences and have met some of the movers and shakers in the social media space. Most of them are genuine and sincere. A few of them are anything but. Several of them are simply talking through their egos. Do I follow them because everyone else follows them, or because I think they bring up valid points?

Trust and credibility are something to be earned. Blind faith won’t help our causes any. When you put your faith in someone, be sure they’re worthy. Some people just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I hope I’m not one of those people but only you can decide.

What makes you decide to trust a blogger or “guru?” Do you take others at their word, or do you follow one of the usual suspects because everyone else does? How do you define trust?

Comments

  1. Consistency is the key! :)
    .-= Lori E. Mazzola´s last blog ..Proverbs13:12 TLB =-.

    • I don’t know? Because one is consistent does that mean one is reputable?

    • Cecilia Fernandez says:

      I think you should refer the email questions about freelancing to your blog since you have already posted the information. I dont think you should answer each individual email since you are working for yourself and every minute is billable time.

      Technical writing can be boring.

  2. hmmm so you’re saying that even if your IP showed up on something, it wasn’t necessarily your IP- yeah, not news to me. and, just to be the most careful, this isn’t JUST the domain of houseguests, wayward babysitters and house cleaners. It is something easily achieved virtually by a techie person worth their salt, too.
    .-= allena´s last blog ..Freelance Writing Jobs with the Federal Government =-.

    • I read about so many of these cases too. I actually researched IP spoofing first but learned that wasn’t the case here. It’s an odd situation.

  3. I have to say that the hand-wringing about accidentally leading your fans off the edge of a cliff is pretty endearing. I’m sure there are people who are looking for paint-by-numbers success. Perhaps they emulate every scrap of experience that comes their way. In those cases, Darwin says “Lead ‘em to the edge and shove em over.” For everyone else, all thoughts and ideas are welcome, but no-ones going to do anything that doesn’t feel like a good fit. At least, not more than once.

    It’s cool, Deb – You’re great to read, and you have a ton of interesting ideas, but no-one will accuse you of trying to be the Messiah :-)

    • I don’t know that I’m hand writing as much as thinking aloud. I’m not saying this to be a martyr or anything. I’m truly surprised by how many people trust me simply because I have a blog. I do hope there are other reasons, that I have a blog shouldn’t be the only reason.

      I guess I’ve been doing a lot of “why me?” type thinking lately. Again not in a whiney way but more that I find it so very interesting.

      • Nope, definitely no martyrdom. I meant it when I said it’s endearing, and I bet I’m not the only one who feels that way! Ironically, it’s the care you take with this stuff that contributes to you having so many loyal fans :-) I read your blog every day, not only for the ideas and job leads, but also for the experience of being spoken WITH rather than talked AT. It’s like the online version of a writer’s circle chatting over coffee, and therein lies the appeal: No pressure, no preaching, no mandates. You do have an influence – you influence writers to trust their instincts and do things their own way. Rock on.
        .-= Imogen´s last blog ..The Rest of the Day She Left – Part 2 =-.

  4. When it comes to sharing information, I feel a lot of the responsibility goes to the reader/viewer/listener/etc. As humans we’re not just computers being told what to do, unable to process information beyond the tangible. We can think of what’s right and wrong, what could be dangerous, what risks could be involved.

    I trust bloggers that are honest and open with their information. Your past few posts have been exactly that: you’ve been honest about sharing your views.

    Sometimes what another person is talking about just makes sense, or they’ve proven their expertise in the subject (the easiest ways being by being successful, by helping others that have become successful, by being complimented and agreed with by other successful people). Sometimes if you take a leap of faith and trust someone by trying out their advice, and it works, it builds trust up that way.

    It’s not much different from trust offline, really. :)
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..The Best Unschooling Tool: The Internet =-.

    • You’re absolutely right, Anna. However, if a reader trust a blogger who is giving out bad information, she won’t put that onus on herself. She’ll put it on the blogger (if that makes any sense at all?)

      I just want to be sure I live up to everyone’s expectations. Trust isn’t easily earned.

  5. Maria Rodgriguez says:

    Deb I had a similar “trolling” situation when someone pretended to be me. It wasn’t too hard to prove as I was in the hospital at the time. The person who did it wasn’t in my home, but the details came from my home via an unsecure wireless connection. Lesson learned the hard way.

  6. Trust and Credibility is so important in the online world. You have to protect it all costs because for many of us, it’s one of our major assets.

    Trust takes time, but social proof helps – that’s why it’s so important for writers to associate with the right crowds and use testimonials and other small details to help their clients know that the trust will be well placed.
    .-= Andy Hayes´s last blog ..A Reminder that Twitter is Not About Number of Followers =-.

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