October 25, 2016
The online community’s trust in brands is on the decline. The online environment makes a viewer’s vision cloudy, and makes it difficult for him to assess the credibility of an online presence. Misuse of marketing tactics by click-baiting, falsifying information and misrepresenting studies have led the online audience to be skeptical of any content or brand that they come in contact with online.
Even so, some brands thrive in this environment because there are ways to make your audience trust and love your brand.
Your audience decides if you are trustworthy based on their assessment of you (the source), and the quality of the message that you give off with your overall online presence. These are the factors that affect your credibility with your audience, along with tips on how to establish trust with your audience beyond all doubt.
1. Knowledge and subject authority
Consumers tend to trust brands whose spokesmen and messages exhibit their intelligence, capacity to think, solve and suggest viable tactics to confront issues that are important to them (your consumers). This is why expert marketers focus on creating sharp and uniquely valuable content that everyone looks at as exemplary. This is also known as thought leadership.
However, creation of such content is time consuming and takes a lot of effort. It requires a mix experience and the knack of expression. If you’re a new marketer, or simply don’t have experience in branding and online credibility management, there’s still something that you could do – curate. Curate authoritative content in your niche, lend your voice to it (a comment – could be your highlight of the piece, how to navigate it or what you found missing), and share it on your brand’s social media pages. Content curators like Flipboard or DrumUp can help.
Stay updated on information in your niche by reading your curated content, and write your own authoritative articles. These are powerful in developing an authoritative identity for your brand on the Internet.
2. Communication and design competence
Since your online audience can’t see the source (you/your brand), they assess your persona/identity by what they can see online – the design of your website/app, the organization and activity on your social media pages, and the quality of the messages that you use to communicate with them.
Ensure that your website design is consistent, the colors are pleasant and appealing, your font goes well with your color palette and that no color or font clashes with your company’s logo. If these factors aren’t taken care of on your website, suggest that your technical team members pay attention to them. Use visuals on your social media pages, and in your e-mail newsletters. They increase consumer engagement and give you opportunity to enhance the appeal of your communication. If you’re not great at designing, you could curate visuals from resources like Pixabay or create quick ones on editors like PicMonkey.
3. Social Proof
People are much more likely to believe your communication if it comes from someone else, and not you. Your communication is most effective if it comes from someone who your target audience can relate to, “someone like them.” That is why advocacy works – ambassador advocacy, employee advocacy and word of mouth in any form. Information becomes much more credible when it is shared by a party that does not stand to benefit from sharing that message. According to global market research firm Nielsen, recommendations from friends and family are considered the most trust-worthy form of messaging.
You can plug into such channels by identifying potential advocates for your brand and reaching out to them to get them involved in your marketing communication. One way to streamline this effort is by turning your employees into brand advocates. You’re already connected with them, and have a way of communicating with them. The idea is to get them to push out brand content, blog content, event information and help you gain a much larger visibility. To help manage, track and optimize your employee advocacy efforts you could use one of the many available employee advocacy platforms.
4. Consistency in overall messaging
It is difficult for your audience to form an image of your brand in their minds, considering the noise on social media and the absence of direct contact. Bearing this in mind, you need to create ways for your brand to stand out and steal the spotlight. Standing out requires a strong personality and consistency across your presence on the Internet.
Everything from the colors that you choose on your social media posts to the values that you stand for create impressions of you in the minds of your audience members. By consistently reinforcing the same impressions, you can create a powerful brand image and drive invaluable brand recall.
Dove is an excellent example of consistency in communication. All of its posts and ads have the firm’s signature blue and white colors which strongly embody the value of empowerment, for women.
The media doesn't decide what sports we play. Click below and tell them you're tired of the sexist comments. https://t.co/Q0kT689pe4
— Dove (@Dove) August 22, 2016
The key to building credibility online is establishing your authority in your industry and maintaining high standards for any content you publish online. Don’t compromise on these fundamentals; they may not earn you an overnight success, but they are indispensable in building a powerful brand.
Disha Dinesh is a content and social media strategist whose focus rests in helping small businesses succeed online. When she’s not working on marketing strategies, you can find her foot-tapping to the latest in progressive rock.