I Trust You, Rand Fishkin

Trusting people on social media can be a tricky thing. In face-to-face conversations, it’s much easier to gauge a person’s trustworthiness than when they’re hiding behind a computer screen. Although I tend to trust too easily in life, it takes a special type of person to earn my trust on social media.

Rand Fishkin

If you were to poll everyone at the Internet marketing company I work for and ask them who they trust most on social media, they would be unanimous with their answer – Rand Fishkin. Rand is the founder of Moz, a Seattle-based company that sells inbound marketing and marketing analytics software subscriptions. And on top of that, he follows Steve Rayson’s proposed social media trust formula to a tee.

With that in mind, it’s time to evaluate his trustworthiness.

Social Media Trust Formula

A is for Authority – In the Internet marketing world, Moz is king when it comes to SEO. Being that we always want to stay on our toes when it comes to Google, Rand is the perfect person to follow on social media. Every Friday, he puts out a short, educational video on his website called “Whiteboard Friday” that touches on a new SEO topic. In it, he provides tips and best practices. His videos are funny, laid back and usually no more than 10-12 minutes long. In case you missed something he said in the video, but don’t have time to rewatch it, you can read the transcript right below the actual video. He also frequently blogs about current SEO issues on his website.

On his Facebook and Twitter, Rand is just as knowledgeable, often providing his fans and followers with the latest in SEO and Google. He currently has 10,779 likes on his Facebook business page and 226,000 followers on Twitter, so it seems that others have taken notice of his vast knowledge in the Internet marketing arena.

H is for Helpfulness – No matter how busy he seems to be, Rand always finds the time to be helpful. In addition to putting out a new “Whiteboard Friday” video each week to educate his followers, I’ve also seen him write back to people in the comments section of his site, respond to comments left on his Facebook posts and reply to his followers tweets. Up until January of last year, he was the CEO of Moz. How many CEOs have you seen that actually take the time to respond to user comments on their blog posts? I’d venture to say not many. While Rand could simply just say something along the lines of “Thank you for commenting,” he, instead, writes a detailed response that shows that he actually read the person’s comment. Additionally, Rand isn’t just partial to Moz.com. On his social media channels, you’ll see him promote information from all types of sites. As long as he finds a piece of information useful, he’ll share it, no matter where it originated.

I is for Intimacy – Rand doesn’t pretend to be perfect, which makes me respect him even more. Earlier this month, he wrote a blog post that really stood out to me called, “On Being Wrong and Not Knowing the Answer.” In it, Rand is not only intimate with his fans but also honest and sincere (genuine), which are two of the characteristics I believe a trustworthy person should possess.

“Not having answers is natural. Not having a certain type of experience or enough of that experience to make a smart-than-average guess is going to happen, even if you’re the most coveted, respected expert in your field. It’s what you DO when you don’t have that answer that separates the high-integrity experts from the rest of the pack.”

Just because Rand is an SEO guru, doesn’t mean he knows all or that he doesn’t need to seek advice from other trustworthy people. It’s nice to see someone be so intimate with his fans. If only other high-level executives could learn from Rand’s humility.

SP is for Self Promotion – Rand likes to share his experiences with others who could learn from them or might even be able to relate to them, but one thing he doesn’t like to do is make things all about him. In his most recent blog post, “The False Narratives We Tell Ourselves,” he explains that he’s not “sharing this for sympathy.” He’s sharing it because he thinks ” we all carry these false narratives with us.” In other words, if Rand feels that someone will be able to benefit from him sharing something about himself, he will. Otherwise, he’s very humble and low key.

From what I’ve come to know of Rand ever since my company encouraged that I follow him on Twitter, I’d say that his No. 1 priority is teaching people, be it through his blog, his Twitter or his Facebook. To Rand, gaining his followers’ trust validates what he’s doing.

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6 thoughts on “I Trust You, Rand Fishkin

  1. I was hoping I would learn about some cool new people over the course of this assignment, and it sounds like Rand Fishkin absolutely qualifies. Now, I’m not sure I buy into the faux humility part. (Look at that facial hair. Does that look like somebody who fades into the background?) But the idea of a CEO personally giving detailed responses is heartening.

    Moz.com is well out of my area of expertise, which is probably why I hadn’t heard of Rand Fishkin. But from everything you’ve written, it sounds like he has a firm grasp on the qualities that make his company tick and is able to manifest them in his personal presence. Thanks for pointing him out!

    • Eric,

      Thanks for commenting. When a CEO takes the time to respond to comments and interact with customers on social networks, it really leaves people with a good impression of him or her. As a CEO, it’s important that you not only have a good grasp of the bigger picture but also of what your customers need and want.

      Oh, and you make a good point about that facial hair. Gotta keep an eye out on that!

  2. Lynette,

    Excellent blog post this week! I have never heard of Rand Fishkin (he has a fantastic name though)! I think that it’s extremely difficult in the world of technology to position yourself as an expert or authority, because it is always changing and different users have differing opinions when it comes to the proper methods and procedures, that’s why I think Rand seems to stand out as a great personal brand to analyze. I have encountered many people online who try to position themselves as ‘social media gurus’ or ‘SEO geniuses’ and they tend to disappoint every time because they tend to multiply by self-promotion and divide by helpfulness (in my opinion). It’s rare to find a trustworthy source in an ever evolving industry like ours, so I am very glad that Rand has proven his trust in you and your company- I’m going to give him a follow too!

    • Hi Wendy,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. You’re absolutely right. There are so many people out there who brand themselves as social media experts and SEO experts but really don’t live up to their own self promotion. I think Rand does a good job of walking the walking and talking the talk. He’s always very helpful and consistent and doesn’t seem to focus on himself, rather on doing whatever it takes to educate his customers about the ever-changing world that is SEO.

  3. I really enjoyed your blog post this week, Lynette! Rand Fishkin sounds like a pretty cool guy. I’ve realized that in reading these assignments, I keep focusing on how these leaders are self-aware and humble enough to admit when they are inexperienced in something. You show that you’re human when you can admit that you really just don’t know. This is so important when gaining trust from others.

    I like Fishkin’s response to his lack of expertise in an area: “It’s what you DO when you don’t have that answer that separates the high-integrity experts from the rest of the pack.” I realize that it what it boils down to is integrity. I live by “meaning what you say, and saying what you mean.” Some may say that I have too high of a standard, but by having integrity I am always honest with myself and to others. I think this kind of honesty and integrity separates managers from leaders, so it’s no surprise to me that so many people you work with, know of Fishkin and trust him as the SEO guru that he is. Thanks for “introducing” us to him!

    • Hi Tiffani,

      Thank you for commenting. I completely agree with you. When people who are considered experts in their field humble themselves enough to admit when they’re wrong, it speaks volumes about their character. I really like your life mantra and don’t think it’s too hard to abide by. But unfortunately, there are too many industry leaders who lose sight of this. They place more of a focus on generating revenue no matter what the cost than on listening to their customers and sharing their vast knowledge with them. I’m glad Rand hasn’t fallen into this habit.

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