I’m fairly new to this “blogging about tech” thing. I’m probably going to sound a bit naive about some of this, but I’m a strong believer in fairness.
In fact, my previous social media experiences were essentially cat videos, memes and snarky comments on news articles. So now that I’ve started paying attention to the tech world and blogs, I’m seeing an alarming trend – the unmitigated rise of FUD.
FUD is an acronym that stands for:
At its best, it’s lazy marketing. At worst, it’s purposely deceitful. And I’m seeing it a LOT in blogs by some well-known bloggers who claim to be “independent.” But it’s hard to imagine anyone who has a strong enough opinion about a technology to be considered “independent” about anything, especially if their opinions (remember, blogs are opinions, not fact) are laser focused on specific vendors and contain vague or broad “information” about that tech.
FUD isn’t just used in tech
FUD has always been around. Advertisers use it as a tactic to tear down their competitors to make their own brand look better. Coke vs. Pepsi comes to mind. As does Republican vs. Democrat. I’ve always hated the tactic, however. If your product is so good, why can’t you point to its merits as the selling point rather than your competitor’s faults? And if you’re going to go negative, can’t you at least be honest and forthcoming?
Everyone else does it…
One rationalization of using FUD to promote your brand or product is that “everyone else uses FUD,” particularly against YOU. While it’s valid to dislike people lying about you and your product, or “creatively spinning” your message to one that’s negative, it’s not ok to stoop to their level. Combat the FUD, stay on your message. Stay positive. If you don’t have anything nice to say about your own product, don’t say anything at all.
FUD reeks of desperation
When you resort to using FUD in your messaging, it sounds a lot like one of the following.
- You don’t believe in your own product.
- Your sales are bad or your message isn’t being absorbed.
- You’re losing to your competitors.
- You’re just not a good person.
In today’s age, many companies are using social media to create promotion teams on Twitter, Facebook, etc via programs like Cisco Champions, NetApp A-Team, vExpert, etc. For example, I’ve illustrated my own point in this blog by purposely omitting a competitor’s social media program, since I work for NetApp. 🙂
It’s great when these programs result in honest debate or even rah-rah cheerleading. Even better when people posting information disclose their bias. But when these “independent” actors start making broad statements like “don’t use this vendor’s feature; performance is bad!” without backing evidence, or mis-stating features, or spreading rumors about things that don’t work, or being dishonest about their overall intent, they’re no longer people you should trust. I’ve seen all of these things in recent days. These authors/bloggers are well worth reading and listening to, as it provides an opposing view, but always consider the source.
Do they have a track record of being negative towards a vendor?
Do they ever say bad things about other vendors?
If the answers are “yes” and “no” to those (in order), it might be time to start reading other blogs to get a more balanced tech world view.
When is FUD not FUD?
Another thing I’ve noticed is that FUD sometimes gets called FUD when it’s actually just… honest. FUD is becoming the new “troll.” The word “troll” has become the de facto insult to anyone on the Internet that doesn’t agree with something you say. You think the dress is white and gold? TROLL!
It’s not FUD if you say something “negative” about a vendor as long as you can back it up. Twitter is one thing – you don’t have a lot of room to argue. Just ask vStewed. 😉 (Not to pick on him – he’s generally very fair. But it’s REAL hard to prove a point on Twitter.)
140 characters is really no place to have a technical discussion. It’s hard. It’s easy to misconstrue. But with blogs, there is no excuse. If you make a claim about a vendor, back it up, preferably with links to THEIR OWN documentation. If it’s a perf claim, show your work. WHY was it slow? What made you think that? Were you even using the right solution? Or were you just regurgitating something else you read on a blog somewhere or overheard at a conference?
It’s our responsibility as self-proclaimed “tech leaders” to make sure we are honest and detailed in our statements.
Stop spreading FUD.
NOTE: Glenn Sizemore just wrote a blog that hammers home what I am saying about believing in what you do. Worth a read!