Building a loyal, trusting and engaged community should be at the top of every brand’s to do list. Whether you call them customers, clients or members is irrelevant. Having a community that trusts your brand is fundamental to business.
You should never underestimate the power of trust. As Brian Tracy said, “The glue that holds all relationships together–including the relationship between the leader and the led–is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”
As writers, we strive to build trust with creative, valuable and informative content. Yet we often lose sight and find ourselves straying down the grim path of self-promotion, scratching our heads as our post fails to get the interaction we longed for. What we fail to see is we haven’t earned their interaction, and we have betrayed their trust.
In the last post in a series investigating the importance of choosing your words, I’ll be taking a look at 3 ways to use content right and build trust in your brand.
Three ways to use content right and build trust in your brand
There appears to be a school of thought that using headline formulae, or coming up with a killer hook, is the very essence of great content. Yet throughout this journey looking at the importance of choosing words, I’ve come to realise content is only as important as the integrity of the voice delivering it.
Yes, there are formulae that encourage more clickable headlines, and certain words can trigger sharing reactions. But without a basic level of trust nobody to interact with your content.
Trust is the reason ‘clickbait’ headlines work. Trust is the reason that awesome ‘hook’ resonated with your readers. Trust will ultimately help you stand out from the thousands of other voices, to build a loyal and engaged community.
1. Stop selling in your content
When a person first agrees to read your content they are taking a leap of faith. They are wary of you, a new voice, but they take a chance and put trust in you.
They trust you will provide what you said you’ll provide in a way that is useful and helps them achieve what they want to achieve. They trust that the information you offer is genuine, well-informed and will tell the whole story. Above all, readers trust that you have their best interests at heart.
Although people may be willing to take a risk on your content, they have become increasingly skeptical of sales copy. As Michael Brenner put it “Promotional content simply doesn’t work. We ignore it and have become amazing filters of any content that is trying to sell us something.”
Self-promotion is not only ignored, but undermines the entire message, and the trust you reader placed in your brand.
Rather than undermining this trust, help your audience succeed, and they will trust you. As Ann Handley put it “make your customers the hero of your stories.”
To build trust, put your reader first and offer valuable content that can help them succeed.
2. Deliver on your promise
One of the biggest failures I have noticed in the content marketing arena – if only anecdotally -, is heaps of content that doesn’t live up to the promising clickbait headlines. After digesting countless posts unearthing the hidden formula to clickable headlines, we find ourselves spending more time worrying about those few words than we do the rest of the content. I’m as guilty as anyone!
Don’t get me wrong, headlines are super important to get your reader to click, but the headline is supposed to outline the purpose. I’ve come to realise that in your reader’s eyes, delivering the value that your headline claims to deliver is the single most important thing your content can do. Not delivering on your promise is deceptive, and breeds distrust.
3. Be authentic, and have a voice
In a world of increasing transparency, there has never been a more important time for authenticity, and it’s shocking how many brands are at odds with the very notion.
Traditionally, image was everything. Big budgets helped you cast a wider net, and plush facades sold more product. Now, social media has stripped away all the facade and polish that made a brand shine, and what’s left is the core and beating heart of the brand. If you’re not prepared to bare that to your audience, you will never earn their trust.
The people who win in the age of social media are the people who use very little polish, and bring their authentic selves to the table. As John Brandon wrote, “Honesty is essential not just because of some grand moral code, but because the only other option is to compromise who you are, what you believe, and how you want to live.”
When it comes to your content be honest and open. Know your values, pick a side, and stick to your guns. Yes, you will alienate a few people along the way, you will likely upset a few people too. But you will empower the community that aligns itself to your brand, and you will no doubt earn tremendous respect from them in the process.
Throughout this journey into the importance of choosing your words, I intended to figure out a few actionable words that might make your copy better. Instead, I’ve come to understand that the important words are your honest, authentic words. Yes, there are more shareable and persuasive approaches to your content strategy, but in order to choose your words carefully, you must simply choose them honestly.