(don’t) lie to me

photo - Library of Congress

Library of Congress photo

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

- George Orwell

 

If I could summarize my new ebook in three words, they would be “tell the truth.”

Truth-telling requires courage. It also demands clarity. Strangely enough, most of us have trouble with the small truths, not the big, life-altering stuff. We struggle to write and communicate honestly. So, let’s explore some truthful content in action.

Airbnb.com

Airbnb is a disruptive, paradigm-shifting online service that enables travelers to book private accommodations or list their own spaces for paying guests. It’s secure and surprisingly addictive.

The company makes short videos to explain the service, and in a section called “Airbnb Life,” real hosts (not actors) describe why they open their homes to strangers with credit cards.

Airbnb could have stuck with scripted platitudes, such as, “I love meeting new people,” or “I want to show off my beautiful city.” Those videos exist, and there are certainly people who share these motives, but the company wisely included hosts who also say that Airbnb pays the mortgage, fills in wage gaps, or funds their renovations.

Traditional business wisdom would advise against sharing these less-than-altruistic intentions and stick to selling rainbows and sunshine. Real people, however, have all kinds of reasons for renting out their homes – and if the space is clean, safe, comfortable and accurately presented, do those reasons really matter?

Yes and no.

If you’re deciding whether to book a room from a global hotel chain or an unemployed mother of three who rents her charming upstairs apartment, which will you pick? Well, that’s up to you. It depends what you want and what you need. The apartment is a “messier” transaction, to be sure, because it’s unpredictable, with all the potential joys and pitfalls of human interaction. But, you also know exactly where your money is going. The truth is something to embrace, not to hide.

Airbnb understands the power of truthful content. It’s compelling and it creates emotional connections. Being honest also sets the tone for the company’s online community – and when you’re renting a stranger’s home, halfway around the world, trust and honesty rate pretty damn high on the list of must-haves.

Learn more about truth and storytelling in my new ebook, Create Awesome Content.

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posted 30 Jan 13 in: business, design, inspiration, media. This post currently has one response.

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[…] in the book is to tell the truth. Again, it sounds so simple, but it’s difficult. I wrote a blog post about AirBnB, for example. They have a series of videos where they interview real hosts, not actors […]

 

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