“Do you trust me?”
At nearly 30-years-old, this is still my favorite line from Aladdin. Whether escaping the reign of palace officials or going on a magic carpet ride, Jasmine always said yes with little hesitation.
I imagine these two fairy tale moments as the end goal of content marketing. As marketers, we extend our hands in the form of blog posts, social media, reports, and every other form of content imaginable.
In those moments, we’re not asking consumers to purchase our products. Actually, we’re not even asking them if they’re interested. The real question is — do they trust us? Do they trust the information we’re giving them? Will those blog posts become resources they use in their everyday lives?
I’m going to give you a hard “maybe.”
The truth is, according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, a troubling 73% of the public worries about false information or fake news being used as a weapon. This doesn’t just point to issues of trust in the news and media. “False information” is the concern that the questions they’re asking in an online search aren’t being answered in an honest way or with genuine intentions.
Even with this alarmingly-high statistic, trust in businesses is on the rise in the U.S. In fact, there was a six-point increase to 54% of U.S. respondents in the Edelman report saying they trust businesses. However, this still leaves us in neutral territory. (To compare, 80% of Chinese respondents have trust in business.)
Along with rising trust in businesses, here’s why you need to make trust a key content marketing focus this year:
1. Search engines tie for No. 1 trusted source
Consumers have the power of knowledge at their fingertips. How they choose to gain that knowledge is critical. Luckily for businesses, 65% of consumers say search engines are their most trusted source for general news and information.
There’s never been better news for content marketers. People aren’t just using search engines to find information, they actually value and believe in the results. It’s critical to keep that trust once they begin consuming your content. If not, they may continue to trust search engines for information but will deem your source as untrustworthy.
2. We’re living in a people-centric world full of technology
In 1984, Jay Conrad Levinson published Guerrilla Marketing where he shares his take-no-prisoners approach to marketing. Marketers today have an unmeasurable amount of technological tools to make a splash and gain the immediate attention of their target audiences.
But a quick and immediate flash isn’t what Levinson was talking about in 1984 — and it isn’t what we should strive to accomplish today. Here’s a beautifully-written description of marketing Levinson shared in his book that still applies to trust in marketing today:
“Marketing is the painfully slow process by which you move people from their place in the sun to their place on your customer list, gently taking a grasp of the inside of their minds and never letting go.”
We have all the gadgets to connect with customers, but without a people-first strategy and mindset, those tools are useless. We also have the power to move forward into this new decade with new valuable connections. However, we’re susceptible to complete failure if we don’t first instill trust by understanding consumers’ needs, wants, desires, and emotions.
3. Trust in social media is depleting
Being asked out on a date via LinkedIn messenger, check.
Receiving spam through a trusted friend’s hacked Facebook account, check.
Having all my Instagram pictures liked in one day by a business account I just followed, check.
Social media is e v e r y w h e r e and many people are using it for their own personal gain. That’s likely why only 34% of U.S. and Canadian respondents in the Edelman report say they trust social media.
Now more than ever, your social media strategy must work towards genuine connections with your target audience. Create a legitimate bond based on trust by remaining true to your brand. Focus on what’s most important, funny, touching, and motivating to your customers and it will happen naturally.