I’ve mentioned that this blog’s purpose is to show my clients the benefits of transparency. Here in the U.S. heartland at the moment, I need herculean support for my claim. Fortunately, I can point to some ardent heavyweight bloggers who are saying the same thing from very authoritative standpoints. One is Marc Andreessen, coauthor of a very early web browser called Mosaic that some of us still remember. Andreessen cofounded the company that became Netscape Communications, and his newest venture is the online social networking service Ning.
Andreessen came late to the party, five weeks ago, and it surprised him when people said, “Finally he’s blogging.” He has quickly become an enthusiastic proponent. This week, Andreesen posted his “Eleven lessons learned about blogging, so far,” including this observation:
…we are definitely entering a world in which bloggers are taken super-seriously by political candidates, company PR departments, government officials, and book editors, among many others. That trend is just starting — but people who have spent their careers dealing with professional press now definitely “get it” that what happens on blogs matters just as much, or more.
Along with Andreesen, Jakob Nielsen was among the vanguard in the early days of the Web. This week, Nielsen, who is arguably the most widely known web usability expert, issued one of his Alertbox articles asserting, “To demonstrate world-class expertise, avoid quickly written, shallow postings. Instead, invest your time in thorough, value-added content that attracts paying customers.”
Most blogs may exist purely as social mechanisms with no intention of influencing many opinions or winning clients. Nevertheless, more than a few witty and charismatic bloggers, whose sites are actually personal journals, have become incredibly popular and occasionally even profitable. Although he was referring to business websites in particular, Nielsen correctly stated, “The beauty of the blogosphere is that it’s a self-organizing system. Whenever something good appears, other blogs link to it and it gets promoted in the system and gains higher visibility.”
Readers select what has the most value for them. There’s no single definition of good. People align themselves with others who have similar interests and tastes. They buy the books they like to read, and they follow the blogs that entertain and inform.
Andreessen and Nielsen are successful entrepreneurs—authorities who are looked to and linked to as expert sources. From differing perspectives, each emphasizes that the Web content every one of us generates becomes a public persona, establishes individual credibility, and is an efficient and inexpensive form of marketing.
Casual Internet users are becoming more adept at online research. New search, aggregation, and networking servicessuch as ZoomInfo, Bloglines, and the currently invitation-only Spockmake compilation of Web-based intelligence about each of us instantly available to anyone who wants it. Whose professions will all of this transparency secure? My guess is the world’s publicists are pretty happy right now.