Hey there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger here. Welcome to Episode 151 of the ProBlogger podcast where today I want to talk about how to build trust with your blog, podcast, YouTube channel, and social media.
This question came in over the last couple of weeks from Stacey. She wrote, “I’ve heard that blogs are great for building trust with potential customers. How would you suggest speeding that up?” I want to tackle this question today and talk about how trust is built using content online and give you some tips on how to maybe speed it up a little bit. I think it does need to take some time, there’s a bit of a spoiler. I’m going to give you some thoughts on how to do that.
Today’s question came in from Stacey and she’s touched on a really big reason that many businesses start blogs. They hear that blogs help to build trust with customers and potential customers and as a result can drive sales. It reminds me of Bob Burg famous quote who once wrote, “All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people that they know, like, and trust.” It’s become a bit of a mantra in marketing circles.
Ultimately, Bob here is talking about relationship, about connection as being the basis of how people make their decision on where to spend money in many instances. If you’re anything like me, you know this is true for you. We look at our own spending habits and we know that there’s some truth in this, we don’t just make purchasing decisions based upon features or prices, we often make our purchasing decisions based upon other factors including whether we feel a connection with the brand, whether we feel we trust the brand, whether we like the people selling us the product or creating the product.
What’s this got to do with blogging, you might be asking. I found that this exact principle applies to blogging. My experience with blogging over the last almost 13 years now has been that it is one of the best ways by far of building a connection with potential customers and people. When you create content on a daily or even just a regular basis that brings about the change in the life of those who read it, then over time they really do begin to feel like they know you. They really do feel like they like you and that they trust you.
Some kind of relationship opens up, as virtual as that might be. As strange as that might seem, people do feel this connection to you when you enhance their lives with regular content. I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve been at a conference and I’ve literally just got home from the ProBlogger Conference, it happened again. People come up to you at a conference when you’ve been blogging for years and they speak to you in such a personal way that sometimes it can be really confusing as to whether you’ve met that person before, whether you’ve had some memory lapse which is quite common for me because memories are not my strong suit.
Many times, there’s people who talk to you and you realize you never met them before. This is the first time they’ve met you but they feel like they know you, they feel like they’ve got a connection with you, they might even feel like they’ve had shared experiences with you because you’ve been walking them through a problem that they’ve had or a challenge that they’ve had. Or they’ve been admiring you, they’ve been inspired by you, they felt like they feel the things that you feel and have experienced the things that you’ve experienced as well even when it’s your first meeting with them.
This has particularly happened for me since I started the podcast. Whilst I don’t reveal a whole lot of my personal life in this podcast, I think simply by listening to the voice of the person speaking, there can be a deeper connection perhaps with some listeners.
Yes, blogging, podcasting, YouTubing, whatever it might be that you do has the ability to help build that kind of connection with your readers or listeners where they feel like they know you, they like you, they trust you. How can you speed that up? That’s what Stacy’s asking today. There’s a few things I do want to say here.
The first one is that it just has to take some time. As with any relationship, trust takes time. Sometimes, people warm up faster than others. I know friends of mine who just warm up to people, they tend to trust people almost on their first meeting. But for most of us, it takes a few times where we meet the person before we begin to warm up to them. That’s certainly the case for me. I’m an introvert, I’m a little bit shy, I’m a little bit stand-offish, but it’s not because I don’t want to trust you, it’s just that it takes some time for me.
Sometimes for me, it takes meeting a person a couple of times, sharing a couple of experiences with them, and then a natural progression of trust slowly builds over time. I think this is the case for most people. It’s true of real life encounters but also with blogging. The idea of getting trust fast is probably not a good thing to go after on a blog. Rather, it’s about building a solid foundation. The way I see it is that every blog post I write has the potential to build the trust between me and my reader a little bit more. It’s unlikely that any one post or any one podcast episode is going to take a reader to fully trusting me in a single step. I don’t really even want to do that, I’d rather take things slow. Step by step, you’ve got to take a long term view of this.
The second thing I’ll say is that trust is earned. Think about your real life, think about the people you trust the most. Why do you trust them? For me, it comes out of the many small interactions that I have with that person and me asking myself subconsciously perhaps are the things that they do and is the way that they treat me trustworthy? Is it worthy of my trust? It’s moments of people being generous, dependable, honest, accountable, vulnerable, true to their word.
The same is true in your blogging. What makes you trustworthy is the accumulation of what you offer your readers overtime. It’s your track record of creating content that’s useful, that’s generous, that’s transparent which serves the people who read it. It’s the consistency, the dependability of your message. It’s that accumulation of what you do over time that earns you trust from your readers, it shows them that you care about them and that earns the trust.
There’s nothing you can do today that guarantees that everyone is going to trust you tomorrow. You need to invest your time today into creating content that makes people’s lives better. Make people’s lives better. For me, ultimately that’s what this comes down to. The best thing you can do is to think about what value you bring and how you try and change the life of those who read your blog and listen to your podcast and watch your YouTube channel.
Every time you sit down to create content, have that in the front of your mind. How am I going to change the life of my reader today? Maybe just a little way, maybe just going to say something that encourages them. Maybe you’re going to equip them with some new information, maybe you’re going to tell them the latest news or translate that news for their own situation. Maybe you’re going to make them feel like they’re not alone in the situation that they’re in. Those things all change their life in small ways and accumulation of that type of content builds trust, builds a connection that’s hard to describe.
It’s for these two reasons, trust takes time and trust is earned, that I’m really a bit hesitant to respond to Stacey’s question on how to speed up growing trust because it does take time. Having said that, I think there are a couple of things that I can say about maybe how this can be sped up a little bit. I say this with the word of caution that you don’t want this to happen too quick, you really want it to naturally happen.
Here’s a couple of things that do come to mind though. Firstly, what other people say about you counts a lot. One thing that can help someone to trust you or be open to trusting you a little bit more is when another person that they trust trusts you.
To illustrate this, if Vanessa, my wife, introduces me to someone that she knows and likes and trusts, an old friend that I’ve never met before—I think I’ve met them all. But if she was to introduce me to someone today and she says I trust this person completely, I won’t probably immediately trust that person but I’ll be perhaps more open to trusting them and have a little bit more peace of mind in entering into that relationship.
The same thing happens online. Social proof certainly is one factor, it’s a word that gets used a lot. You probably have experienced it yourself, you are more likely to probably read a blog that looks like it’s really active and has lots of readers already. You’re likely to go into a restaurant that has a lot of people in it than has no one in it already. There’s this element of social proof there and this certainly can come into play with the beginnings of relationships. People might be a little bit more open to trusting you if they do see some social proof. If you have a community of readers already interacting on your site, things can sometimes snowball a little bit faster.
One of the things I would say about maybe helping people to be more open to you is to focus a lot of your attention on building community and engagement with your readers. When you’ve got that warm community, people will be more open to trusting you because they see other people doing that as well.
Also when other people of influence interact with you, or speak about you, or trust you in a public way, sometimes that can speed up the process as well. This is why interviewing other people on your blog that maybe have influence, this is why having guest posts from other people on your blog that maybe have influence or guest posting on their blog, these types of things can build a little bit of social proof as well. It doesn’t guarantee trust, but it may actually help people to be a little bit more open to you if they see someone that they know, like, and trust liking you and trusting you.
Sometimes, it’s good to highlight that social proof in some ways. If you want to hear a little bit more on social proof, I really do recommend you go back to Episode 114 where I, in passing, talk about four types of social proof that you can use on your blog.
Here’s the thing about social proof, it really can only take you so far. Perhaps it can speed things up a little bit, particularly in the opening stages of your relationship with a new reader, but it only does take you so far. You need to earn the trust, you need to take that opening that maybe social proof gives you and then run with it.
The other thing I’ll say, the second last thing I’ll say about trust, is that in my experience, trust grows faster when it’s reciprocated. I spoke on this in the past on this podcast but I love Bob Burg quote, people do business with those that they know, like, and trust. I think that’s completely true but I think that quote can also be flipped around. People don’t just do business with those that they know, like, and trust. I think people are more likely to do business with you when they feel like they are known, when they feel like they are trusted and they are liked as well.
Show your readers that you know them, that you like them, that you maybe even trust them. That’s the kind of interaction that you want to have. You don’t want just them to know, like, and trust you. You need to show them that you know, like, and trust them. I guess ultimately you need to ask yourself the question, do you know, like, and trust your readers? Do you show them that you know, like, and trust them? Know them is pretty easy, you can kind of find out the demographics, the language they use. That’s fine. Do you like your readers? Do you really like them? I have to say I really love my readers on ProBlogger. One of the reasons I love to go to the ProBlogger event each year, one of the reasons I started the ProBlogger event, is that I wanted to get to know my readers. When I’m there, I feel like I really like them. They’re fantastic people, we have a lot of fun, we enjoy each other’s company.
I really like my readers and I trust them as well. I trust particularly the people that come to my event and I tell them all kinds of stories and I’m vulnerable with them at times as well. Do you know, trust, and like your readers? Do they feel like you know, like, and trust them? Do you express that to them? I think you need to express that to your readers in different ways. The content that you create on your blog shouldn’t just be about what you know, it should be about how you feel about those who read it.
Express your feelings to your readers. If you’re writing about a problem that your readers have, don’t just say you’ve probably got this problem. Show them that you know that problem, show them that you have a feeling about that problem, that you want to help them overcome that problem in some way.
You may communicate good information but your readers may feel at a distance from you unless you communicate it in such a way as they feel like you know their needs and that you genuinely want to help them. When you write in that way, they’re much more likely to feel like they’re in a relationship with you.
Here’s my tips on creating content. Create content that’s warm. The tone of your content, using personal language. This is why I love podcasting so much. I hope that you can hear my voice that I generally like you as readers.
Create content that’s vulnerable. Talk about what you’re learning, about what you’re trying, about what you’re making mistakes in, about the values you have, about the questions that you don’t know the answer to. Those types of things show vulnerability and that shows your readers that you trust them. I wouldn’t tell people about my vulnerabilities and my insecurities unless I had some level of trust with them, your readers will value that.
Create content that has story in it. One of the best ways that you can make a connection with a person is to tell your story. Whether they’re your own stories or someone else’s, just a story can open up that relationship, but particularly when you tell your own story. It doesn’t have to be deeply personal, just show them a little of who you are.
The last thing I’ll say about the content you create is add a few personal touches, share a little bit of who you are. You do need to have some boundaries, but maybe you can share a little bit of your life in some way.
A couple of podcasts ago, I let my five year old introduce my podcast. You know how many people sent me emails and messages based on that opening and the closing of that podcast? It was amazing. People felt like they saw this different side of me. I had someone writing, “I never really thought about you as a dad.” I talk about my kids all the time but that little snippet where my five year old talked to you, it opened up a relationship with that person. It showed them a different side of me. Maybe there’s a way to add a little bit of your personality and who you are outside of the topic that you’re talking about.
I guess here what I’m trying to say is that you need to show your readers that you trust them, that you like them and you know them if you want them to know, like, and trust you too.
The last thing I’ll say, I think I’ve said this in different ways already. It ultimately comes down to this, be trustworthy, be trustworthy. The best way to gain trust from people is to be someone who is worthy of trust. Ultimately, I think that’s the fastest way to grow trust, blog with transparency. Show your agendas, show what you get out of it, be responsible for your actions, act with integrity, treat your readers with respect, keep your promises, work hard to be someone who’s worthy of being trusted.
Once you have trust, respect it, treasure it, care for it. As someone once said, and I can’t track down who said it, “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.” Once you’ve got it, treasure it, keep it. Your actions speak louder than your words and who you are will in the end shine through, so be trustworthy.
I really hope that’s been helpful for you. I don’t know whether it has, I’d love to hear whether you find it useful or not to you, encouraging to you. I’d love to hear what you think about building trust with your audience. What have you done? What have you tried that has built trust with your audience? What have you seen other people do? Why do you trust some people more than others? I’d love to hear your comments on that over in the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/151.
Thanks for listening, I’ll chat with you in a week’s time in the next ProBlogger podcast.
In this podcast, I mentioned ProBlogger Podcast Episode 114 where I talk about four types of social proof that you can build into your blog. That part of the podcast is really quite small, the overall podcast really talks about strategies to help you convert first time readers into interested readers of your blog. It’s really about trying to create good, first impressions upon your readers. I do encourage you to go back and listen to that, social proof plays a really important part of that. A lot of the things I talk about in that particular episode are really about beginning the relationship and taking people to that first step towards trust.
If you’ve got another 15 or so minutes and you want to listen to something else, head over to Episode 114. You can find it in iTunes, just scroll back about 36 episodes, or you can find it at problogger.com/podcast/114. Thanks for listening again, I really do value you tuning in today and I’ll chat with you in a couple of days.