Inciting trust: truthful content

Posted on 16. Jun, 2011 by in Thoughts

The recent revelation that two popular lesbian bloggers were, in fact, neither lesbians nor women has incited outrage across the web. The bloggers, who both turned out to be middle-aged men, held prominent positions in online gay communities, and the news that they were disingenuous has unsurprisingly dealt a body blow to one of the most tenuous aspects of online communication: trust.

You may look at this extreme example and feel safe – after all, it sounds like a bit of a tall tale doesn’t it? But you may not be as safe as you think when it comes to truth telling. Gaining and retaining the trust of your users doesn’t only mean not lying to them bare-faced about your gender or lifestyle choices; it means keeping your site accurate and up to date at all times.

Show people you’re trustworthy

Don’t TELL people you’re trustworthy, show that you are.

Practise what you promise

If you want people to keep reading your content, buying your products or recommending your services, you’ve got to make sure they believe in you – and reward that belief.

So when you promise free delivery within 48 hours, that’s what you have to give. If you can’t feasibly manage to deliver in that period the majority of the time, don’t bother promising it. By setting up false expectations, you’re damaging a potential customer relationship – one that could be worth much more than the initial sale.

Exercise caution in blog content

You may host a blog on your own site or choose to contribute to other popular blogs in your vertical – and both of these are great ways to communicate with customers – but you need to remember to always make it obvious who you are, and what your motives for writing are.

In a blog, you have the chance to let a little of your personality shine through, and even express some of your personal onions. However, be careful not to say anything you can’t back up – especially when it comes to your company’s products.

Don’t get carried away on social platforms

Likewise, the ‘one click’ culture encouraged by social media platforms means it can be very easy to say something you haven’t thought through on sites like Twitter or Facebook.

If you get caught out telling a fib on Twitter, you can expect your original tweet to be retweeted widely. There are few things as quick to go viral as embarrassing mistakes (cute cats and talking dog notwithstanding).


Keeping customer testimonials real

We all know how powerful good customer testimonials can be, but you’ve got keep them real. Don’t you find it a bit suspicious when a product has only great reviews? Doesn’t that little cynical part of your start wondering whether there’s a chance they’ve been faked? Doesn’t that make you want to back away? Right?

Well, your customers are just as smart as you are. Don’t try and fob them off with fakery.

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