In a recent survey conducted by Kentico, we found 74% of the general public trusts content from businesses that educate readers on a particular topic.
This is, however, a fragile trust that businesses must take care in protecting. Even adding a product pitch at the bottom of an otherwise objective blog post will kill the credibility of the piece for 29% of those who responded to our survey.
So what can content marketers do to maintain the trust of their target audiences?
1. Get Your Corporate Buy-In
Before content marketers can gain the trust of their readers, they must first gain the trust of their bosses. And that means making sure they’re educated on what content marketing is, what it isn’t, what it can do—and what it can’t. The primary goal of content marketing, of course, is to secure the readership of prospects in the hopes that it will contribute to community growth, the eventual purchase of products or services, or some other desired customer action. That readership depends on trust, and it’s essential that all of a company’s stakeholders understand that.
2. Put on Your Reporter Hat
To be effective, content marketers have to stop thinking like marketers and start thinking like reporters. They must, at least while drafting content, put their loyalty to the prospect over their loyalty to the organization. Content marketers must first and foremost inform in a way that is compelling and valuable to the reader. If they serve up information with the sole intent of benefitting the reader, the reader will consider the information trustworthy and (hopefully) the organization as well.
3. Don’t Be Wrong
Of course, even the best intentions of a well-meaning content marketer can go sour if he or she doesn’t get the facts straight. Be sure to check them. You’ll also want to cite any external research you include in your content. Our research shows as many as 46% won’t trust content that can’t be corroborated and that 57% tend to trust content more when it contains verification from named sources, such as parents or doctors.
4. Make It Shareable
It may sound obvious, but a lot of organizations don’t make it easy for people to share all of their content. If it’s posted on your website, it should be shareable. If you’re providing content as part of a guest post on another site, make sure that content is posted with share buttons. Not only does this help more people see your content, it helps more people get your content from an already trusted source—69% say content is more credible when discovered through a friend or family member.
5. Make It Valuable and Compelling
Share buttons aren’t enough if your content isn’t valuable or compelling to the reader. You need to make people want to share your content. This starts with truly knowing your audience. Who are you targeting? What needs do they have? Are they household dads or working moms? Teachers or students? Do they listen to Lady Gaga or Glen Miller? Imagine who they are and then write to their needs—not your boss’. Try humor. Images. Video. Anything that will help your content leap off the page.