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To Be Trusted, You Must Be Authentic

May 22, 2020

When it comes to content (and the internet in general), it gets harder and harder to find sources to trust.

For one, content on the internet is too saturated. There’s content on every platform. Everyone has their own piece of advice to share, and everyone wants to be a thought leader.

Next, credibility. We can’t discount the issue of fake news today. Content is being weaponized to a whole new level, used more widely as a tool to disinform and forward certain agendas. This widespread proliferation of questionable content has created an air of skepticism for many target markets.

If you’re a brand, don’t take this as a reason to stop whatever it is you’re doing. Think of it as a hurdle you can overcome. Furthermore, think of your audience. Now more than ever, you are your reader’s advocates. This is the time that you should go heavy on building your brand as a purveyor of truthful and trustworthy content.

So where should you start? We have some tips.

Teach not sell

Readers read content because it’s interesting, informative, inspirational, and/or unique. They don’t read to be sold to.

According to Digital Marketing Magazine, mentioning a product or a service lessens trust in 3 out of 10 readers. With this fragility, brands should be wary of adding aggressive sales pitches in their content.

Go for gentle nudges instead. Tie content thematically instead of explicitly. A good start for this is putting yourself in your reader's shoes.

What questions do you think they have regarding your product or service? Do they have challenges? What are their other interests?

Effective content marketing is not just about selling. It’s about informing and educating. This is how you build better engagement; this is how you build authenticity.

Cite your claims

As we said, credibility is key in building trust for your brand.

With content, this credibility comes from verifiability. In a survey conducted by Kentico, almost half (46%) of readers say that a brand’s trustworthiness is lost if they could not verify their sources.

Sources are there to corroborate the information you provide. They give strength to your argument. They also show readers that you took the time and the effort to research the information you are providing them.

Also, remember sources cited don’t always have to be data and numbers. You can also reference interviews from experts and book excerpts. Use the breadth of voices outside of your own to shape compelling and comprehensive arguments.

Also read: The Tech World Isn’t Just For “Techies,” It’s For Creatives

Start from zero

We once wrote about the cognitive bias known as “the curse of knowledge.”

In a nutshell, “the curse of knowledge” conveys an information imbalance between you and your reader. It’s a common mistake for marketers to assume that everyone is up-to-speed as them when it comes to information about their brand. It always pays to take a step back, be on the same level as one’s readers.

First, be careful about your tone. No one wants to be talked down to. Treat your reader as an equal even when you’re teaching them.

Next, use clear and conversational language. Don’t go into marketing speak, if you do provide context.

Stories are incomplete if you don’t begin from the start. Assume nothing, provide as much as possible.

Go against self-interest

This may be the most effective but also the hardest tip to follow.

Openness builds trust because being in a vulnerable position is something many cannot and do not want to accomplish. It is an act of giving trust to others without the assurance they will trust you back — but when they do, they will do so wholeheartedly.

Do this by creating content that addresses your own weaknesses. Urge readers to share their thoughts. From this, empathize with their apprehensions about your brand. See where they are coming from.

Obvious agendas dissuade readers, but discussion breeds growth. From this awareness, you can create more content that is authentic and compelling.

Also read: The Right Way To Counter Bad Reviews From Customers

Authenticity stems from your ability to connect. As a rule of thumb, don’t look at readers as a faceless mass you can address as a whole. Think of them as individuals, as people, you genuinely want to speak to. Conversing without hard sells, providing accurate information, forgoing condescension, and transparency all come from here.

Also read: Don’t Just Build An Audience, Build Connections

Create content the way you yourself want to be spoken to.

Got other tips? Share it with us through the comment section below!

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