Sunday, July 10, 2005

Why Blog - Writing it makes it true,

(This is the second in a series of posts about why people blog. The original post can be found here)

2. Writing it makes it true.

One of the sad facts about people is that they are very easily manipulated. Companies spend heaps of money on advertising, because it changes the way people think, and ultimately changes the way people behave. In the companies case, they want to modify your behaviour - from a state of not spending your money on their product or service, to a state of spending your money. Not a particularly harmful goal, but then not a particularly worthwhile one either (unless you happen to be them.) but that's another post.

Appeal for Credibility

Not all of these marketing tricks are successful. Some products are just stoopid, and no amount of promotional gumpf can convince anyone to buy them. (CueCat anyone?) But a cornerstone of all these pitches, both successful and unsuccessful, is the appeal for credibility.

The aim is to get over your personal barrier for not buying whatever it is, by convincing you that the company in question is worth spending money on. That's why companies spend so much money on logos, design, letterhead, fancy flash websites with annoying intros, uniforms, sponsorship of unrelated sporting stuff - all of which is really only designed to convince you that the company is credible and worthy of your money.

One of the oldest tools PR guys seem to use to build credibility is the press release. A press release is a nicely typed, well laid out, company branded advertisement. It gets mailed out to everyone on the PR guys media list, with the aim of hoping that some newsroom somewhere will be having a slow news day and report the advertisement as though it is news. A reputable source, that people trust, informing it's readers/listeners/viewers based on company propaganda. Such an event can make a huge contribution to building credibility.

Of course, appealing for credibility, while important, is really not that difficult. People want to believe the illusion that the world is highly organised. They want to believe that all the companies in the world behave with clearly defined, reliable and established process. Convincing people of something they already want to believe is always much easier.

You are what you blog.

Back in Blogger-land, us people are used to having the media present them with a mechanism for determining their opinions. Face it- most of your opinions on the state of the world today came to you through some pre sanitised media source - probably a newspaper, the net or TV.

Bloggers are adding their own opinions and thoughts to that collection of media. And writing my ideas down, and publishing them in a clean, credible format like this one means that I can feedback my own ideas to determine my opinions. Imagine! Google and Microsoft are making everyone into their own credible information sources.

And so, there's a bit of authority in my posts, that might not be readily identifiable in my personal opinion. By writing something down on my blog, I'm clarifying what it is that I believe. I'm presenting it in an authoritative, clearly defined credible way. And I think that people are aware of this on some level, and that they manipulate their posts in order to determine who they become. That people's blog personas are more the people they'd like to be than the people they are.

This is closely related to promotion, but more on a personal level. For example, while all of Joel Spolsky's posts are fundamentally promotional, It seems to me that earlier on, he was using his blog to determine the kind of person he would become. Stuff like 'I'm planning on writing an article about this' and so on. Sort of like the blogging was a bootstrapping process for what became Fog Creek. I've always thought that Joel's blog was the foundation of his business plan, but only as a marketing mouthpiece. Now I'm starting to wonder if it served more as a motivator than manipulator.

So, writing it can make it true. Blogging about things you believe or plan to do can be a powerful motivational tool.

It's on the internet, it must be true...

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