In the pre-social media web (pre web 2.0), it was easy for a business or organization to “oversell” themselves. I saw this from time-to-time. It’s easy to imagine how a business might do this. A website can be designed to make them seem very impressive. Testimonials from customers (whether real or otherwise) can make them sound fantastic. And product images can be air-brushed to look much better than the real item.
Another type of organization that I often saw overselling themselves was churches. Ironic, I guess, but it’s true. I know of a church that promoted its programs for young people, yet only had a handful of them in their actual membership. Once I was given several pictures to use in a collage photo on a website. One of the pictures was a handsome African-American man with a nice smile. I found out later that he was not a member of the church, but on the maintenance staff! In fact, the church did not have any African American members to speak of!!
The days of these types of tactics are hopefully on the decline. The advent of social media allows for a built-in correction mechanism on the web. Facebook, Twitter, and blogs allow people to share their impressions with their friends. There are also now sites like Angie’s list and Glassdoor that give unsolicited feedback on companies. Have you checked your company’s profile on Glassdoor? You should, it may give you some unexpected insight into your employee’s opinions.
One of the beauties of the social media phenomenon is that it brings a social conscience to the web. Hopefully, these tools are used for the overall public good, and helps us all find out what is truth, and what is not, in that big bad world of the Internet.