Trust – it’s so fragile. It takes forever to build and moments to crush.
My brain is teeming with ideas about how to build trust, and how it’s impacted by the content we create and the social media posts we share. As I wrap up the last half of my book, I’m very focused on the topics of trust, value and reputation – and how they intersect to create a bigger picture.
Trust is a complex thing. It’s built up over time based on small everyday interactions, subjective opinions, our own unique perspectives and experiences, and what people tell us.
The internet is no different. Online, trust is built on a foundation of reputation, consistency, professionalism and demonstrated expertise. It’s a collective accumulation of impressions, with each exposure forming an imprint, like individual brush strokes together create a larger image, a larger truth.
Excerpt from Above The Noise (coming this fall!).
We can’t build trust if the content we create is unfocused, and we sure won’t build any kind of meaningful awareness or audience.
Each brushstroke – each piece of content and layer of social media – adds to a larger truth. How trustworthy does your content appear? What perception are you creating as the bulk of your content grows over time? Are you creating a masterpiece or something you can’t give away at a garage sale? Are you creating a bigger picture that is intentional or accidental?
What kills trust, when it comes to content marketing or even social media?
1. Lack of an obvious audience. If someone reading, watching or listening to your content can’t figure out how it applies to them, or what the target audience even is – how will they trust that you know what you are doing? They think, “If you can’t speak to my interests and needs, will that same disconnect be in your product or service? Will it be a waste of my time and money?”
Understanding your audience and reflecting that understanding in your content is essential. It builds credibility, and with credibility comes trust.
[Tweet “If content doesn’t inspire trust, why are you creating it?”]
Content that doesn’t identify an obvious target audience might not damage trust, but it does fail to inspire it – and isn’t that the goal?”
2. Poor quality. Quality is a direct reflection of experience, and experience inspires the confidence that leads to trust. We expect something amateur in appearance from an intern or student – but in business, it separates entry level providers from those we trust to be effective. It also separates the “good deal” playahs from the “worth every single penny” awesome providers.
It doesn’t matter if you create content entirely yourself or have a team of content developers, and it doesn’t matter if you sell a $500 or $5,000 product or service, set the bar high for quality. Even if it’s just a simple image with a quote or a 500-word blog post, there’s no excuse for poor quality.
It silently costs you far more potential new business than poor quality content can possibly bring in. Trust me.
3. Snoozeworthy “me, too” topics. While it is true that your audience might not be familiar with the very same topic that you see all over the internet, boring sameness doesn’t inspire trust. Opinions and expertise inspire trust; intelligence and passion inspires trust.
If you care enough to create content, add that extra bit of time to create something noteworthy and unique. Create content that validates their decision to give you their valuable time. It might be the same message, but who says you have to tell your story the same way? Take the same angle or include the same tools? Make it yours.
How can you fit your content to your specific audience and their needs, while infusing it with your own beliefs and perspective? THAT’S what makes your content great, not mindlessly shoveling out quantities of crap.
4. Inconsistent brand clarity. Just as lack of a defined audience fails to inspire trust, so does content that doesn’t clearly connect to the creator of the content. It must reflect a clear purpose that fits with your brand.
What is your product or service, and how does your content SUPPORT that? Does it fit in with your business and what you are trying to accomplish with your content? Each piece of content you create should speak to a specific audience, but it also should demonstrate a link between that audience and the brand.
Content that speaks to a defined audience is a good thing, but ends up being a fail if it also doesn’t clearly connect to the brand.
For example, a commercial bank’s blog shouldn’t have content about how to finance a new boat – it should target business owners with content about how they can fund and grow their business. A post about a boat loan might target consumers who love boating, but it doesn’t connect to the overall brand of a commercial bank.
Their content should inspire confidence that the bank understands small businesses, and how to creatively finance them. It should inspire trust that as a lending partner, their interest is in helping their customers grow successful businesses, not just cutting a check. Not only does the blog fit an obvious target market – small business owners – but it reflects the bank’s focus on commercial business loans, instead of generically targeting Tom, Dick and Harry in a ten mile radius.
This earns trust and confidence among small business owners in a way that a generic bank would struggle to do.
“Jack of all Trades, Master of None” completely sucks as a content strategy. It also kills potential growth of your business.
Boldly target your efforts for more success.