Let me guess, you’re an honest person.
You know what you’re talking about. And your clients, your friends, and your colleagues trust your advice.
But online things seem different.
How can you demonstrate that you’re competent, credible, and trustworthy? Gaining trust online may seem difficult. But it doesn’t need to be.
Online, you can’t assume trust is automatically established. Instead, you need to actively build your trustworthiness.
There are three key elements to developing trust with your online audience:
- Build authority by creating and sharing useful content;
- Then develop relationships with your audience by showing you genuinely care;
- And finally, underscore your credibility with a professional website.
Your first task is to determine what you want to be known for, and start building your reputation.
How to build your reputation
Knowledge is great. Competence is great. But the combination of both encourages people to trust you and increases your powers of enchantment.
~ Guy Kawasaki
What knowledge can you share?
What are your skills?
How can you share your experience to help others?
Here are 17 ways to create content and build authority:
- Be different. You have to stand out. Because nobody likes copycats.
- Be on a mission. What do you want to achieve? And why?
- Develop your own voice. What’s unique about you?
- Have an opinion. Stand for something. Don’t be afraid to alienate a few people. It will bring you closer to others.
- Produce content. Write an incredibly useful tutorial. Create a flagship ebook. Develop cornerstone content. Produce content you want to be known for.
- Become a storyteller. Because stories are memorable.
- Be helpful. Create and share content that solves your readers’ problems.
- Build a tribe. Because your followers will spread your ideas for you.
- Use quotations. Acknowledge the people you’ve learnt from.
- Give away free content. Because your influence will grow.
- Interview experts. Because it allows you to create valuable content more quickly.
- Show results. Develop case studies, because your track record will shape opinion about you.
- Promote testimonials. Let others build your reputation.
- Write guest posts. It’s the quickest way to build authority with a big audience.
- Don’t constantly sell. Teaching is a much better way to gain sales.
- Exceed expectations. Surprise people by being insanely helpful.
- Be curious. And keep learning. And share more.
How to demonstrate integrity
You cannot buy trust at any price. But slowly, over time, you can build it for free.
~ Jeffrey Gitomer
To build trust, you have to let people know you’re sincere.
Don’t focus on yourself. Interact. Social media channels provide a huge opportunity to build trust.
Follow these 19 principles to show your audience you’re worthy of their trust:
- Be interested. Nobody will trust you if you’re self-centred.
- Be yourself. You don’t need to go naked, but fakes will be quickly exposed.
- Be passionate. And show you genuinely care.
- Listen. Lurk. Observe. Understand the culture of a platform before you jump in.
- Build relationships. Ask questions. Answer queries. Say thank you.
- Show your personality. Because it helps build relationships.
- Use familiar language. Because gobbledygook turns people off.
- Give credit. Don’t be a thief. Quote your sources. Provide links to those who inspire you.
- Be conversational. Because it shows you’re human. Nobody wants to engage with a clone.
- Be generous. It’s a surprisingly common secret of success.
- Be humble. Because nobody likes windbags.
- Be transparent. Declare your business interests. Ensure people don’t feel tricked or cheated.
- Show up. Scheduling tools are useful. But nothing beats real-time engagement.
- Start an email list. Because communicating by email is more intimate than interacting via social media.
- Promote others. Not because you expect something in return, but because you like what they say and do.
- Become familiar. Be visible. Be consistent. Use the same profile picture across social networks. Because familiarity breeds trust.
- Provide valuable comments. Contribute to the discussion.
- Accept responsibility. Acknowledge and apologize when you need to.
- Don’t pretend. Admit freely if you don’t know an answer. Nobody expects you to know everything.
How to be credible
Credibility is established through what other people think.
~ Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
How do people know you are who you claim to be? Does your website signal that you can be trusted? Does your content promote your authority?
Use the following 13 tactics to demonstrate your credibility:
- Design a professional website. Because poor design makes you look like an amateur.
- Use high quality pictures. Put some thought into the images you use.
- Have your own domain. Because using a BlogSpot or WordPress hosted blog brings a whole host of business problems.
- Use a reputable host. Because downtime and slow loading make you look incompetent.
- Avoid grammar goofs. These credibility-killers just make you look foolish.
- Mind your spelling. Because typos undermine your credibility.
- Study copywriting. Don’t let poor editing let you down. Write tight. Don’t bore your readers with clichés. Compose compelling headlines.
- Design a timeless logo. Because it adds stature.
- Use a professional headshot. What impression does a holiday shot make?
- Provide a money back guarantee. Because it shows your confidence.
- Use symbols of trust. Security shields, authorized badges, and seals of approval increase your credibility.
- Show social proof. That’s obvious isn’t it?
The truth about gaining a loyal audience
The reward for earning trust is a big one: loyalty.
~ Sally Hogshead
To build trust, you have to build self-confidence through experience first. Because, if you don’t trust yourself, why would others?
Don’t overpromise. And don’t break commitments to yourself. Be consistent. Show up. You’ll be richly rewarded.
Be credible and helpful, and you’ll build a loyal following. Exceed expectations and your online business will grow.
Come on. Be confident. Show that you genuinely care.
What can you do today to build trust?
About the Author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent marketer and copywriter on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to add sparkle to boring business blogs. For more writing tips, join her Enchanting Marketing newsletter.