Monday, May 17, 2010

Is it Spin or a Big Fat Lie?

One of the things that I’ve taken to doing recently is checking out tv shows that I hadn’t really been into before, yet had no idea what I was missing. Most recently, it’s been Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (I know, I know, where have I been, right?). Episode 18 from Season One “Chat Room” includes a plot twist with a bunch of grandmas posing as a fifteen-year-old on the internet.

That episode aired in 2000 when we were all speculative about where products came from on the internet and who sent them. You might have been more likely to be “had” ten years ago as compared to today, when internet business is the way of the world.
If your website is the biggest storefront for your business, you probably want it to be the best. It’s all façade, and you can control quite a bit.
But when is the control a spin vs. a lie?

Here are some things to think about when trying to tell the difference:

• Word-smithing: Do you pick words that accurate or vague? For example, would you say you have offices, locations, or a presence? They all mean different things. An office is brick-and-mortar, but could be someone’s basement. Is presence more accurate because you know your employee works out of a coffee shop?

• Logos vs. photos: Over the past couple years, a personal rule of mine is that I rarely accept or follow requests that come from avatars or logos. If there isn’t a face behind the name, I’m skeptical. Imagine customers to be that way, they want to have a face for dealings, especially when things go wrong.

• Reputable partners: We know that when we order from, we’ll get an Amazon box delivered to us in the mail. They even claim all shipping ownership online. Yet, the sticker on the box says that the USPS delivered the package. I not only trust Amazon, but I trust the USPS.

• Working links: If the site itself doesn’t work on a regular basis, filled with broken links or pages refusing to load, customers will know you don’t have your act together. Basic website maintenance is something that’s considered table stakes for customers. If you make it hard for them to get what they need, they won’t stay and may not come back.

Think about these things when building your online presence. It is important to maintaining your brand and building loyal customers.

What other things should organizations keep in mind? Are there ways to minimize spin? Is spin ok to have?

Emily Jasper is a Corporate Marketing Manager with PDI Ninth House. In addition to marketing, Emily has sales and PR experience from previous roles. She currently writes a blog, "From the Gen Y Perspective," and can be followed on Twitter at

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Amanda Broman said...

Thanks Emily, this is a great post! It is often the details that provide authenticity in a person, company, or brand. I especially like your comments about working links. It is easy to make quick changes on a site, but it is important to understand how that quick change may have a larger affect on the customer’s experience. I suggest keeping a site audit that is updated quarterly. This way you have an understanding of what links you have and where they navigate to. It is much easier to fix a broken link, if you can identify where it should link to.

Thanks again!

Emily Jasper said...

@Amanda, links are so important. When something on my site doesn't work, I feel like I'm robbing my readers of authenticity. That might seem like a stretch, but if they expect something to work, it should. We all know what it's like to try to order something online only to have the page fail. A site audit is a great idea. All that mapping is important, and I don't think people really take the time to make sure everything is in working order.

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