The Social Observer

The Social Media Marketing Blog by SNHU Students


Credibility in (social) media

With the spread of #socialmedia and technology, users have 24/7 access to information. As we all know, information is one of the most valuable assets in today’s world. But with all the information floating around, how can we, the users, be sure that the source we tap is credible?With every side of an opinion represented on the Internet, how do we decide what is credible and what not? And also, how can we add credibility to our posts/ blogs/ websites, which are so easy to create these days? Here are some thoughts and tips on what credibility means, how important it is, and what we can do to add credibility to our online activities.

What do we define as credible?

As many years of research have shown, credibility is always perceived and not an actual property. This means that we cannot simply CREATE credibility out of nothing or by merely being honest. Credibility is a perceived concept of trust and expertise.

So that we are all clear here: Credibility does not mean Truth! Truth, in the most philosophical sense, is the actual and purest occurrence of an act. That does not mean that whatever we say or do is “credible” and unfortunately vice versa.
But what does that mean for the online world?

Online credibility

Let’s face it: Anyone with access to the internet and basic understanding of the internet can post content oUnknown-1nline and make it look “official” and “credible”. I used “ “ because something looking “official/ true” does not make it “official/ true”. However,….the more people believe something to be true, the more likely it is to be perceived as such. Want an example? Fox News! According to Public Policy Polling results, Fox News is the least trusted network in America.

Guess who the most trusted network in America is?

Fox News!

This just shows that “perception is reality” and truth only matters so much.

So how do we create #credibility?

According to the Stanford Web Credibility Researchers, there are several steps we can take to boost website credibility:

– Make it easy to verify the content you post

If you make claims, or even simply report on events or activities, make sure you provide links to the sources. The less links between you and the original source of information, the more credible your reporting is.

– Make it easy to contact you and be available

If you want to build a trusting relationship with your readers, be there for them. That means not only to respond to their love letters, but also address issues they bring up!

– Show and highlight the organization behind your content

Appearing credible is easier for a big company. With all the PR and lawyers available to them, they can make people believe whatever they want. This however, is not as easy for an individual blogger. As a blogger you still need to explain your “organization”, show credibility, show why the post is worth reading.

Credibility is highly influenced by cognitive dissonance and our search for approval of our beliefs. We like things we know, and we know things we like. Exchange the word “like” with “believe” and you have yourself a quick explanation of online credibility. Not every source on the internet is credible. Not every fact on the internet is credible. But it is not up to the producers to make sure it is. It is up to us, the consumers to make sure the sources we use are credible and that we double and triple check facts rather than blindly believing them. Because as Abraham Lincoln so famously said: ”Not every quote on the internet is true, only because its attributed to a famous person!”

Category: Blogging, Social Media Marketing 101