Any time we hop on our phones or laptops, we just might feel that the glut of content there is suffocating us. How does that happen?
Google the terms "how to," "what is" or even "social media marketing," and watch as your screen is flooded with lists and anecdotes from a variety of sources. While not all of this content is bad, it's hard to know how much of it to trust.
Granted, inaccurate information isn't always the fault of the writer: The internet changes so quickly that source links may become extinct; or there may have been a misinterpretation of complex statistics or research.
However, if you're putting content out there for your own business that you hope will build trust with your audience, you need to start doing more thorough fact-checking than your competitors are. The point is about more than just gaining traffic; it's about building a relationship with your customers,
If you follow these steps, that relationship potentially could last a lifetime.
1. Focus on solving problems first, and getting visitors second.
One of the biggest things that people miss the mark on with their content is that they worry about attracting visitors and neglect to provide value to them.
After all, the goal isn't just to have them find you; you want to keep them coming back. Remember: Your business is out to solve a problem, which should be your thesis when you're deciding on topics to contribute.
In coming up with those topics, ask yourself what are the common issues in your industry. If you're looking for inspiration, it's not a bad idea to run a test on Google Trends, just to double-check that what you're thinking about writing hasn't already prompted oversaturated coverage.
For example, if you're an artificial intellitence company that helps fashion brands with sales, then a prospective article titled "What Is AI?" has most likely already been published 1,000 times. But . . . "How AI Is Changing the Fashion Industry" is probably going to gain you considerable traffic.
Overall, your task is figuring out how your brand can produce quality content rather than doing the same thing everyone else is doing.
2. Emphasize quality over quantity.
While producing a high volume of content might be a good strategy to up your SEO results, it can damage the trust people place in your blog. Believe it or not, people tend to trust blogs as a primary source of information; in fact, blogs are in third place for trustworthiness, after family and friends.
This is a big responsibility if you're trying to get viewers to take your content seriously. That's why it's imperative to produce high-quality, not high-quantity, work.
The main factors in producing high quality are those germane to any other academic effort: Have a topic, deliver a thesis with supporting statements, back it with trustworthy research, edit for grammar and spelling and be concise.
I know that seems simple, but you'd be surprised by the number of blogs that forgo standard writing practices in the name of producing lots of content.
3. Be consistent.
No one likes visiting a blog that had one great post from a couple of months ago but has been tumbleweeds ever since. This brings up questions like: "Well, what happened to them? Why'd they stop writing?" And that can discredit the work you've already contributed, since your audience will be unsure if you're still a reliable source.
In 2014, a survey by the Content Marketing Institute showed that 78 percent of the most effective B2B marketers were producing more content than they did a year ago. Out of the surveyed group, 91 percent were promoting their efforts on social media, as well, and 62 percent said they believed that promoting their content to LinkedIn was working, while 50 percent considered Twitter an effective means as well.
These numbers reflect the fact that your competition is going to be tough; but by putting forth a system to create, promote and respond, your efforts will gain the notoriety you need to succeed.
4. Utilize social proof.
There's a lot of power in social proof. As stated above, people are more likely to trust the recommendation of somebody they know or are familiar with, which is why using social proof on your content might be advantageous.
What this might entail are actions like collaborations with industry leaders, customer testimonials and celebrity endorsements. Even just utilizing customer reviews can be beneficial; in a case study conducted by Bazaar Voice for figleaf.com, the group found that customer reviews saw an increase in session conversions by 12.5 percent; products that had 20 or more reviews had an 83.85 percent higher conversion rate than those without reviews.
These findings reflect how, when it comes to social proof, even just a little bit of someone else's approval can go a long way.
5. Avoid common topics or titles.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with content is churning out the same topics as others in your industry. As mentioned earlier, posting about common topics can be useful if you're contributing to a larger conversation, but churning out trite content will cheapen your brand.
Always remember that brand perception is key. To separate yourself from the pack, utilize a tool like Buzzsumo, which will allow you to see what topics in your industry are getting the most shares. Take one of the most popular subjects, and produce content that is unique to you but attacks a similar problem.
6. Invest in branding.
Branding isn't just your logo, typeface or even story; it's how those things work together to build trust with your customer. As digital agency Huge has pointed out, building this trust takes quite a bit of time, but should be one of the primary goals of your content. Remember the beliefs you have in common with your customers (the mission you share), and be consistent with them.
7. Continue the conversation on social media.
One of the biggest things that you can do to build trust in your content and your brand is engage directly with your audience on social media. This is more than just saying "Good point!" or "Thanks!" Rather, it's about actually holding a dialogue or engaging in an open forum.
An excellent example of someone who does this is Nimble founder Jon Ferrara, who responds to every single tweet to him, as well as contributes to the conversation personally.