In fact, 74 per cent of the general public tend to trust the non-salesy content that businesses post on their corporate, social and other sites.
This figure may appear high, but the survey also showed it doesn’t take much for content marketers to break that trust. Even if a blog post is compelling, valuable and objective, 29 per cent say all a company has to do to kill their credibility is add a brief mention of the product.
It’s not just mentioning products that can affect trust: 46 per cent say credibility is killed by presenting information that cannot be corroborated with other non-company sources; 17 per cent are turned off by not including other perspectives or viewpoints; 15 per cent are put off when it’s not made clear that the message comes from a particular company; 12 per cent lose trust when the content talks down to them.
You might think a brand’s existing customers are more trusting. Not so – 85 per cent are no more trusting of educational content simply because they buy from the company that posts the content. The majority of those surveyed also believe a company’s size has no bearing on the credibility of its content.
While it’s tough for content marketers, there are things they can do to maintain the trust of their target audiences:
1. Think like a reporter
Content marketers have to stop thinking like marketers and start thinking like reporters. If they serve up information with the sole intent of benefitting the reader, the reader will consider the information trustworthy and (hopefully) the organisation as well.
2. Check and double-check
Make sure you get your facts straight and cite any external research you include in your content. We have seen that most people won’t trust content that can’t be corroborated and, furthermore, the research shows that 57 per cent tend to trust content more when it contains verification from named sources, such as parents or doctors.
3. Make it shareable
Whether it’s posted on your website or a guest post elsewhere, make it shareable. Not only does this help more people see your content, it helps more people get your content from an already trusted source – 69 per cent say content is more credible when discovered through a friend or family member. Interestingly, women are 20 per cent more likely than men to trust content shared though friends and family members.
4. 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? Teachers or students? Do they watch ‘Strictly’ or ‘X-Factor’? Imagine who they are and then write to their needs—not your boss’. Try humour. Images. Video. Anything that will help your content leap off the page.
In summary, while customers will, for the most part, give a company’s content marketing the benefit of the doubt, businesses must take care to not break that trust with information that can’t be corroborated or strays from the truth altogether. In this way, content marketing and transparent marketing must go hand in hand.
Petr Palas is CEO and founder of Kentico.
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