We all have them. Those marketing mavens and industry gurus we follow for insights and ideas on how to build our business better. But what makes them worth following, and what can you learn from their efforts?
Credibility can’t be bought. You can’t run down to the store and purchase a gallon drum of the stuff (as much as you might want to!). It can’t be made either. You can’t manufacture credibility, and anyone who says you can is trying to sell you something you don’t need.
But you can earn credibility – using the very thing the Internet can’t get enough of…
Here’s how to do it.
According to a study by Content Science, 65% of those surveyed felt that web content was “hit or miss” or “unreliable”. That means over half of those asked felt they couldn’t trust what they read. This was the case whether the content was from big media, a niche source, the company or brand itself, or was user-generated.
Choose a Reliable Source
In the image below, users were asked to rate the credibility of sources from a variety of travel-related content and then asked why they gave that rating. These were their results:
Users rate their dissatisfaction with a lack of credibility from travel content
When you choose a trusted source (like the aforementioned mavens and gurus that you and others like and follow), or cite a study, survey, chart or other case, the credibility from those results rubs off a bit onto you. As you continue to cite these sources and write your own explanations and share your own findings, more and more people will begin to look forward to your next piece to fill them in on some little-known tip or tactic they can leverage in their own business.
But this isn’t to say you should simply link to a bunch of studies and throw them up on your blog. No, you have to…
Make Your Content Useful
Useful content happens when you have a finger on the pulse of your audience’s needs and not simply what you think they need. Useful content brings together a variety of points to create a piece that’s interesting, engaging and informative. For example, if someone was looking for relevant, credible information on migraines, they may find themselves asking questions like:
- Is a migraine the same as a headache?
- Do food cravings signal an oncoming migraine?
- Can bright lights or strange smells cause migraines?
- And so on…
Content is useful only as much as it answers the user’s questions, enlightens or entertains them. Anything else is just filler and fluff designed to appeal to search engines – not people.
Another point to keep in mind is that even if you’re a bootstrapped startup struggling to get recognition is a sea of competition, your content can still get plucked from the “me too’s” out there by being easy to verify and easily shareable.
Case in point: there are tons of “online reputation management” companies out there, but BrandYourself has gotten mentions from Forbes, ABC the Wall Street Journal and was even featured on Shark Tank.
Companies that do more than just lip service to their mission and values are recognized and rewarded by their customers
What made them different was the fact that their company was started by a college student who was curious as to why no one followed up on his resume. After Googling his name, he discovered it was shared with the likes of drug dealers and sex offenders. No wonder no one was calling back!
Unable to afford the prices (or understand the methodology) behind reputation-saving services, ($32,000 was one of the highest quotes he received!), he decided to enlist the help of a search engine optimization pro (and fellow student) to clean up his name results so that he would come out on top. In short, BrandYourself put online reputation management back into the hands of everyday people.
In addition, BrandYourself has established a set of core values including things like:
“Complete transparency. We’ll fully explain our process, and happily answer any questions you might have.”
..to further solidify their stance that online brand reputation management shouldn’t be some back alley, dark corner, exorbitantly priced affair reserved for only the most exclusive clientele.
Everything about their content – from customer reviews to media mentions to their process explains how they work and why their work is important.
Develop Your Voice
This is perhaps the most vital step in creating the kind of content people want to follow and engage with. Your voice is not a handful of trendy phrases – it’s what makes you, you. Ask yourself, “How do I want people to feel or react as a result of reading content written in my voice?” Are you:
- Approachable or even vulnerable?
- Hip or edgy? Do you know what’s “in”?
- Wise and confident?
- Cool and practical?
- Fiery and impulsive?
What do you want “the brand of you” to stand for? How do the people you admire and follow cultivate that voice in themselves and what about it resonates with you? Those are the questions you should be asking in order to develop a distinctive voice that affects everything you write, publish and produce.
Don’t Forget to Test
In nearly every article here at CrazyEgg, you’re being advised to test, test and test some more. This is no different with content. Considering the very nature of the Internet, where you’re reaching people of different age groups, locations, backgrounds and other variables, what constitutes “credibility” to one group may not matter at all to another.
In the aforementioned survey, U.S. brands and their associated companies were seen as credible sources of content whereas personalities were not. This was the opposite in the U.K. As another example, people aged 55-64 were more likely to trust endorsements than other forms of content. So it would make sense to seek out reputable endorsements and testimonials from those within your industry circle if you were catering to that audience.
So when you’re trying to find your voice and create the kind of credible, consumable content people can’t get enough of – remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s not just about creating content or even writing high quality content. It’s about becoming a trusted, recognizable source that people can turn to for unbiased, real information.
And the more you put these tactics and techniques to work when creating your own content, the more credible you’ll become by extension.
Have you used any of these tips in your own content creation efforts? Got a tip I missed here? Tell us about it in the comments below.