Seven Musts of Creating Trustworthy Content

October 12, 2015


For most of your brand’s content pieces, your goal will be to create shareable content that your customers will pass on to their network- and luckily, the admiration goes both ways. Nine out of ten consumers want brands to share content online, and in fact, consumers have begun to trust content from brands almost as much as they trust content from established media outlets such as the New York Times of CNN.

However, in order to be shared, your content has to earn a certain level of trust from your consumers. But you can’t just slap your logo in the corner or have a quote from one reputable source thrown in. To build trustworthy, shareable content, your content has to follow certain guidelines.

First, it has to reflect your brand. This doesn’t mean just following your brand’s design guidelines (although that is part of it); on a deeper level, it means that your content needs to address your customers’ interests and values in an authentic way. Your content should also be inspirational and educational in order to be trusted and subsequently shared. Right now, 58% of consumers report trusting editorial content, but that number jumps to 74% when the content is considered to be educational without explicitly pushing a product or service.

Originality is also key. Think about this: 347 WordPress blog posts are published every minute. What’s going to make yours stand out? You may be tempted to take shortcuts like using stock photography or another researcher’s charts or data- but your consumers are smarter than that. They’ll notice your shortcuts and trust you less because of it (in fact, 30% of your content readership will fall off due to “lack of credibility” if you use stock photos).

An easy way to display credibility is simply by showing your sources- yes, just like in college when you had to have a references page or bibliography for every paper. But instead of a professor giving you a bad grade if you don’t cite your sources, most media outlets will ignore your content. More importantly, almost half of customers say that a brand’s credibility is lost when the content can’t be verified by external sources.

Your content also earns credibility when your consumers share it naturally; after all, it’s a word-of-mouth referral that implicitly expresses trust in your brand. Earned media such as organic shares is far and away the most trusted media form partly because of this 84% trust in word-of-mouth recommendations. This same report also found that 94% of people share educational information from a brand with their networks, and 69% say that they find this shared information more credible.

Your customers will be more likely to share your content if it’s interesting, funny, and/or unique. In general, people also prefer to share good news rather than depressing news. Careful though- avoid making an explicit sales pitch in your content; even being too aggressive about including a branded campaign hashtag with every content piece or attaching a promotion to every social media post can turn off readers. Mentioning a product or service, even just as an aside, lessens trust for 3 out of 10 readers.

Before your consumers share your content, they need to be able to trust you as a reputable source. By incorporating various trust signals into your content and staying true to your brand and your audience’s interests, you can create content that your customers trust enough to give the ultimate endorsement: sharing it with their network. 

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