Earlier this week my peer Jessie Paul and I got into an interesting debate on our panel ‘Going Social: the new reputation management mantra’ that I was moderating, at the India PR & Corporate Communications Conference 2011.
Making a point Jessie said something about ‘People (online) who are high on credibility but low on authenticity’, which she explained as people, say on Twitter, who had a high following and therefore what they said reached and ‘influenced’ a lot of people, who in turn helped carry the message forward. She wrote a post enumerating a couple of examples.
I responded by saying that credibility is an outcome of authenticity and any depletion in authenticity will lead to depletion of credibility over time.
Wikipedia defines it as follows:
Credibility refers to the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message. Traditionally, credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise, which both have objective and subjective components.
Given that it has both objective and subjective components, it is consistency that lends to believability over a period in time.
I have always maintained that we are increasingly confusing popularity with credibility, particularly on the live web.
The ability to propel the message fast into conversations, while valuable, is not always a virtue if the source is manipulative or misinformed. Consequences, sometimes, as examples have shown, can damage reputations where they didn’t deserve to be. We need to promote restraint, caution and responsible conduct while propelling/ or helping propel messages – not easy.
Can credibility exist without authenticity? What’s your take?
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