The notion of “fake news” has become dominant in our politics, and it’s no great surprise to see it shaping the content marketing world, too. Readers are becoming increasingly incredulous about the things they see and read on the Internet, and more vigilant to separate fact from fiction. On a civic level, this is probably a good thing. On a marketing level, it presents some challenges.
The role of content marketing has always been to establish trust—but what does that look like in an era where readers are less trusting than ever? And what can you do, as a marketer, to ensure your content isn’t deemed, well, fake news?
How to Make Your Content More Trustworthy
Ultimately, you can’t make anyone believe the things you write, but you can eliminate their reasons for skepticism. Here are a few ways to ensure that your online content comes across as trustworthy.
Deliver on your promises.
The quickest way to lose trust is to try the old bait-and-switch—writing a compelling and clickbait-y headline and then delivering content that simply doesn’t match. Whatever your content says it’s going to be about, that’s what it needs to be about. Always offer truth in advertising.
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For example, Always #LikeaGirl campaign delivered a clear social message about women (their main target audience) and shared a strong on-brand concept at the same time. This ad delivered what it promised.
Personalize your posts.
People are more willing to accept the word of another human being, with a name and a face, than something that feels robotic or anonymous.
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Ensure that your posts have by-lines attributed to them, and author information if possible. When marketing on behalf of a company, allow each contributing team member their own byline and give them space to personalize their posts.
Cite your sources.
Don’t ask people to take your word for anything. Instead, include pertinent statistics, external articles, and case studies that support your point—always being sure to link to authoritative resources.
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Include pros and cons.
Be fair and balanced. You may be arguing in favor of a particular practice or technology, and that’s fine—but acknowledging the counterarguments or the downsides can really lend your argument credibility.
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Don’t be too “salesy.”
There’s certainly nothing wrong with including a call-to-action that promotes your product or service but resist the urge to lay on too thick of a sales pitch. If your blog posts read more like advertisements, nobody’s going to relinquish their skepticism.
Stand Out from Fake News
Ultimately, people can accept your content as trustworthy or they can reject it—but your job is to give them every reason to take you seriously. Above all, create content that you would find persuasive. Write in a way that conveys authority and knowledge, and let that speak for itself.