Do Your Readers Trust Your Content?

I volunteered with an organization a number of years ago that spoke about “winning the right to be heard.”  Nowhere is that more necessary than on the internet.   Abe’s right:


The truth is that most people don’t trust everything on the internet and they shouldn’t. Check out these numbers:


You can see that readers are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the truthfulness of content irrespective of how it is delivered to them although the oldest readers are most skeptical.  Even so, when you are asking people to part with their money, skepticism rises.

Here are 14 ways to crash through barriers to trust:

  1. Make sure you know what you’re talking about! The best way to build trust is to provide valuable information that is factually correct (which is part of what makes it valuable). This might take a little (or more than a little) research on your part.  As you research, make sure that the sources you use know what they’re talking about – Abe is right – you shouldn’t believe everything that’s on the internet.
  2. Support your claims.  It’s generally good to back up what you say with support from credible sources.   Your sources may be survey research, as above, or other types of research like tests or case studies.   The third way is similar to this:
  3. Reveal your sources to your readers.  While it’s not good to make your content read like an article for an academic journal, it’s generally good to cite sources.  You can see above that the information on trust was gleaned from Nielson, a credible source for polling data.   People may want to know where you got your information and if you can provide a credible source, their trust in you will go up.
  4. Be consistent.  Consistency, whether it’s a calendar for posting, or the kind of content that you publish helps build credibility with your audience.  If your readers ever get the impression that what you’re doing isn’t important to you, it raises the question, why should it be important for them?
  5. Create evergreen content.  This means content that is in season every season.  Writing about fads will make your posts irrelevant over time.  To keep people coming back to your site, make your content worthwhile today, tomorrow, and for as long as you’re in business.
  6. Be original and creative.  If your stuff is available from other sources, why should anyone read your stuff?  Sure, there is generally overlap between what you’re writing and what others have said in print.  But, you should have your own angle that is uniquely you.  If you are plagiarizing someone, you will be found out and discredited.  Don’t do it.
  7. Have some fun!  Without a little levity at least once in a while, business is boring.  Spice it up, lift people up, and you will be rewarded.  People trust real people and real people are people that don’t sound like robots or computerized content wizards.
  8. Did you know that smiling makes you more trustworthy?  It’s true according to this study:  Another study says that a smile increases the willingness of others to trust you by 10%.  So, smile as you present your valuable content.  This has to do with your profile picture and the way that you come across in your writing.
  9. Inspire others.  There really isn’t enough inspiration out there, so be a purveyor of inspiration and people will look to you for help.  As people learn to know and like you, inspiration can go a long way toward people trusting you.
  10.  Keep your headlines, subject lines, and titles honest.  You’ve seen the clickbait headlines – the sensationalist and misleading headlines that supposedly draw readers.  Some are good, but many are terrible and they lower credibility.  Have you seen this one: “Health Insurance Companies HATE This New Trick.”  Don’t emulate it!
  11. Anticipate questions that you readers may have and answer them in your content.  When you can do this the bond of trust is strengthened because your readers will come to understand that you’re really in this with them (whatever “this” is for you and your readers).  They’ll learn that you really understand them, and that is a great advantage for you and your business.  It’s the difference between speaking with someone and speaking at someone.
  12. Beware of the curse of knowledge.  The curse of knowledge is the information imbalance that exists between experts and non-experts.  If you are an expert in your field or niche (and I hope you are), it’s a given that you know more about your area than your readers.  So, don’t assume that your readers know as much as you do and understand the inside lingo that you know.  Explain, explain, explain, but don’t be pedantic (don’t go overboard with sharing your knowledge like a boring teacher).  Here’s a great article on the curse of knowledge:
  13. Use clear, understandable language.  This goes beyond the curse of knowledge to the power of simplicity.  When you can explain things in common terms that anyone can understand, you will build credibility.
  14. Ask for response.  You may notice that I close out my blog posts with an invitation for comments and questions.  Feedback is good and when you get feedback, continue the conversation.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions, likes and shares.


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