How To Create Content To Build Trust And Boost Audience Engagement​.

  • By Andy Fox

I believe we’re all aware of the adage, or rather the ‘irrefutable truth’: “Trust is the easiest thing in the world to lose, and the hardest to win back!” 

You can call it as a logical response to a probable adverse outcome, or the involuntary ‘fight or flight’ trigger, generated from amygdala in our brains – we (humans) simply cease to tread the path that invokes a feeling of ‘fear’ or ‘distrust’ within us! 

Whether it is our pre-historic ancestors who avoided a seemingly treacherous path in the forest, or a modern human like us who chooses a particular brand of shoe (or restaurant for that matter), over others – The element of ‘trust’ runs deep within us and has always been a crucial base for our survival. 

And to make the job much difficult for ‘sellers’ and marketers alike, estimates say only 22% of brands in the world are trusted by the masses today. 

In the ‘digitally driven’ world we live in today, Content Marketing is the tool that helps us build this ‘bridge of trust’ between our brands and our target audience. A business that stands by its principles and crafts genuine content to alleviate the problems of its customers - is the one that can demonstrate ‘integrity’ and thus will win the trust of its audience.

As Brian Clark likes to put it; “we do tend to prefer brands that we ‘know’, even if there’s no true difference between their product and a generic one. But when it comes down to choosing between two or more brands, ‘trust’ becomes critical.”

How do we then create such content that infuse trust and boost engagement with our audiences? Here are a few tips to do just that:

1.  Clarity & Consistency with ‘IDENTITY’

If your company doesn’t have a clear sense of identity, then you may be at a grave risk of ‘confusing’ your audience as to what you really stand for. 

Identity, as emphasised by Melissa Eggleston and Julie C Lellis, in their book, The Zombie Business Cure – is something that’s constructed from your core values. It’s the base where your ‘organisation culture’ and the concept of ‘brand’ stems from. 

In order to build trust with customers, it’s essential that your communication messages, or the content you put out in all of your channels – Be Consistent with your identity and bring forth an essence of Originality which accentuates your ‘identity’, rather than ones that deviate away from it. 

In today’s digital age of highly aware, active and ‘ultra-sensitive’ consumers, even successful and popular brands will have to pay a huge price, if they misplace their identity or overlook the values and sentiment their brands have established amongst the masses. 

The example below is of one such misplaced identity of a popular cereal brand Cheerios, whose attempt at branding their product in a Twitter tribute for the musical legend Prince, was hugely ‘scoffed at’ by the consumers:


As you can see, Cheerios dotted the ‘i’ in its tribute with the iconic circular breakfast cereal. The tweet didn’t go too well. There were many backlashes from fans around the world, including this one from Twitter user @trillballins: “Imagine Cheerios sending this to you after your Dad dies.” 

Cheerios did delete the tweet and apologised, saying the intention was purely to acknowledge the loss of a musical legend – nevertheless, the damage had been done. 

Cheerios went too far with their ‘playfulness’ concept by injecting their product in a tribute – which tremendously undermined the solemnity of the message; questioned and diluted their identity and weakened the ‘trust’ they had built over the years, with their loyal customers.

2. Creation & Demonstration of ‘AUTHORITY’

One sure fire way to instill a sense of ‘trust’ amongst your readers, is to demonstrate ‘authority’ via your content. Now, not all of us are the ‘experts’, ‘opinion leaders’ or ‘influencers’ in our chosen niches and industries, however, you can always create and demonstrate a ‘perceived authority’ with your content by using  these influencers – the practice otherwise known as ‘Influencer Marketing’. 

A social share (say a link to your new article), from a well-known and respected name in your industry, is definitely going to add considerable ‘weight’ and vote of confidence to your content, which will be immediately perceived as ‘authoritative’ and ‘trustworthy’ from the audience. 

This kind of association with the ‘influencers’ surely doesn’t happen on a whim, you need to nurture these relationships beforehand through a focused ‘influencer marketing strategy’. You can start off with liking, sharing and commenting on the social posts of these expert, initiate a conversation via mail on a shared opinion; network via events, etc. 

You can also approach them while you’re writing an article on issues they’ve command over, and ask if they would provide their thoughts on the topic to share with you and your audience. If you can get an authority to contribute to your content, it’ll bolster your content’s credibility. 

Your imagination’s the limit when it comes to influencer marketing. How about running a podcast or webinar with the ‘expert’ and using the interview to create various content like blogs, infographics, tweets etc.? 

The more you include the voices of experts, stakeholders or even critiques in your content, the more value and trust is derived by your audience!

3. Keeping AUDIENCE At The CENTRE!

A genuine and a reliable brand, always puts their audience at the heart of their content. Every tweet you send, or every article you publish should be geared to addressing the issues faced by your audience. 

This sends an honest and clear ‘signal’ to your readers/consumers that they’re being ‘listened’ to. Contrary to those brands that fill up their messages with features of their products and services, and do not show genuine concern to alleviate customers’ problems. 

This also means to take every opportunity to engage with the audience, by being receptive and responding to their comments, ideas and suggestions, you establish a professional, yet friendly relationship with your readers. It forms a mutually respectful bond with your customers and subscribers, opening more room for them to trust, share and advocate your message and brand ideas. 

A crucial approach in this regard, is to always be true to your core principle, and be honest in your opinions, even if it means to act against your self-interest and point out your weaknesses – that, as Demian Farnworth from Copyblogger suggests, will help dissolve your readers’ skepticism and help build authority for you!

To Sum It Up…

Building ‘trust’ has never been a ‘quick fix’ for any organisation. It’s a long and consistent effort of creating meaningful relationships with your audience, via crafting genuine content that addresses their burning issues, and engages them in discussions and narratives, that fuel their growth.

Call Andy Fox (me) on (03) 5249 5570 or email 

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Andy Fox - Author

I have a firm belief there is only one great challenge in life… And that is… To be the best version of you possible. I have lived my whole life to this tune. I love that I am not perfect and I love that every day I get up and make at least one change in my life that makes it better, one change that takes me closer to my life’s goals.

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