Dear Socially Stephanie,
I read your article about growing your blog audience and I liked how you simplified and explained each tip, especially the part where you talk about scheduling tweets to drive additional traffic and getting followers. If you were to give one piece of advice on gaining your audience's trust, what would it be?
Trustworthy in Toronto
Dear Trustworthy in Toronto,
Why thank you! I'm always happy to hear nice things. Your question is a good one. Trust is something you can't buy or scheme to achieve. It must be earned. Luckily for you, I have a few tips to help you gain the trust of your audience and new readers as well.
It all starts with QRV: quality, relevance and value. Memorize these three letters because they are the most important words you'll hear all day. So what does this mean to a business blogger? Let me break it down.
The first step to earning the trust of your audience is to provide posts that are of high quality. You see, quality is about how the message is made. It refers to the ingredients of your blog posts. It's about having good copywriting, good presentation and good style. No one is going to trust a blog that is put together poorly, has a ton of misspelled words and looks like it was done in a few minutes. Would you trust a company that sent you a poorly made bicycle? I didn't think so. Your blog posts must be hand-crafted with care. That's quality.
Relevance is about how the message is targeted. In order to connect with your audience, you need to be relevant. For a blogger to be trusted, they need to have a theme. The more relevant you are, the more likely you are to have your audience keep coming back for more. Why? Because they know what you offer and they can expect that from you and your blog day in and day out. I'm not sure exactly what industry you are in, so relevance will vary depending on the products and services you sell. One thing I can tell you is posting about socks one day, the stock market the next, and Disneyland after that is going to take you to the fast track of to irrelevancy land.
Lastly, value is about how the message is significant. The content in your blog needs to change the reader in some way, and most importantly it needs to help your reader. If I come to your blog and don't get anything out of it, I'm not going to come back. Return visitors come back because you provide them with a ton of value for doing so. Remember, your reader's time is valuable too. In order for them to spend those few minutes with you, they need to take something away from the experience.
If you apply these three words to everything you do online, you are going to garner a loyal readership. I know it doesn't happen overnight; in fact, it may take months to earn the trust of your readers. But once you do, they will be happy to stick around.
Now that we've addressed the blog posting and content side of things, I think it is important to address the social side of blogging. By using social media effectively you can also help gain trust and credibility online. You need to continue to engage with your audience and reach out to potential readers. If they are posting comments on your blog, respond back. Readers need to know you are real and authentic. If they are posting on your fan pages or through Twitter, take the time to acknowledge them. And lastly, ask them how you can help. Get to know your readers and reach out to offer your assistance and expertise. And of course, practice what you preach. There is no quicker way to loosing your hard earned trust than by lying, plagiarizing, or being selfish. So keep your word and stay consistent.
Remember: QRV to gain trust. Good luck!
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Please email [email protected] and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)
Illustration by Jesse Wells