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Why blog writing is essential to gaining credibility

June 6, 2010

In IBM, we recently had a jam about how to create the future digital presence for the company. For those of you who don’t know about jam technology, it’s a set of forums that can be created and promoted quickly by a group of moderators. Jams are much more nimble than forums, however. Anybody can post a new jam topic and entice participants to comment on the topic. Also unlike forums, jams are short-term events meant to capture feedback from constituents quickly. The resulting brainstorming threads are then analyzed to create collective strategy.

IBM has used the technology since 2003. Probably the most publicized jam was the very first one, the Values Jam, in which every single IBMer was encouraged to help develop a statement of IBM’s values using the jam technology. These values are the basis of every decision made at IBM. So you can imagine how important that jam was to the company.

Though I can’t share much of the results of our digital strategy jam for confidentiality reasons, I can share one of my contributions to it because it is basically taken right out of our book. Our position in the book is that credibility in your field requires a digital footprint of credible content. If you don’t write insightful content that connects with the conversations in the blogosphere, you won’t gain much traction in your field.

One of the reasons we wrote the book was to help people who are not used to regular Web writing do a better job in this very necessary skill in the digital world. Your writing is a key way to connect with the community of experts and a key way to measure the success of those efforts. My jam point was about the second part of that–measuring credibility. If you’re interested, please read on.

Measuring credibility

One of the topics in this jam was about how to measure the expertise or credibility of IBMers. We want to get the best and brightest minds in the company to connect with the foremost authorities on relevant topics outside of IBM so that we can do a better job developing offerings and communicating with stakeholders about them. Rather then the usual executive spokespeople, we want to focus on the subject matter experts (SMEs) in the company who are developing innovative solutions everyday. As a start, we need to identify the people who already have the most credibility and promote them. But how do you identify the top experts in a field?

There are lots of companies and tools that do this. For a detailed list, see Chapter 9 of our book. Most of them use a similar method to determine author credibility that Google uses to determine Web page credibility with its PageRank algorithm. Some use other measures, such as the volume and sentiment of comments to their content. But the primary method is to measure the number and credibility of references to an authors’ content.

In print, that’s a matter of the number of bibliographical references to a work. In academia, the credibility of a professor is measured in terms not only of the number of her publications, but how many times other authors refer to those works in their bibliographies. On the Web, we’re talking about links. The number and credibility of links into authors’ blog sites determines the credibility of the authors. Link credibility is a matter of how much credibility the linking page has, which itself is a measure of the number and credibility of links into the page. In short, the credibility of an author is roughly measured by the PageRank of his blog.

This is why blog writing is not optional for SMEs who wish to become eminent in their fields. It is the surest way to gain the recognition SMEs need for their insights. As I said last week, content is everything, just do it.

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