Blogging is an economy whose currency is trust.
In fact, what makes some blogs successful and other blogs fail often boils down to trust and relevancy. If a blog is not relevant to the reader, they won’t read it. If the reader doesn’t trust the blog, it doesn’t matter whether they read it or not.
Yet, here is the good news: readers want to trust blogs. They do. According to research done in 2013, consumers are more likely to trust a blog than they are to trust those they listen to on social media. That’s huge.
So how can you, as a blogger, work to cultivate that trust with your visitors?
Here are some scientifically-proven principles to win trust and cultivate credibility.
1. Invest Yourself In Others
When you take time to thoughtfully invest yourself in others, you build relationship capital. You not only earn trust with those you have attentively aided, but you also build trust with those who have witnessed it. Often, investing yourself in others results in people who are eager to share with others your expertise and willingness to connect.
By way of example, consider a recent article published on Inc. In it, Jeff Haden tells of a chance encounter in New York with Hugh Jackman, the famous Wolverine actor. As Haden tells it, he was en route to a meeting and got turned around in a New York City park, when Hugh Jackman passed him by. Noticing that Haden appeared a bit disoriented, Jackman paused to help him get his bearings… even going so far as to hail him a cab.
It was brief, but it was impactful. It prompted Jeff Haden to write an article about it a major business magazine, which has since been reprinted in numerous locations across the web. Haden became an evangelist of Hugh Jackman, all because he took the time to help an apparently lost visitor to the big city.
If you invest yourself in others, your investment will pay huge dividends in trust.
2. Borrow Credibility
In 2010, Psychological Science published a study that looked at cynicism and our willingness to trust others. The study found that informing one participant about another participant’s trustworthiness prompted a 21% increase in their willingness to trust that person.
It makes sense, too. If your best friend recommends someone to you, you are far more willing to extend trust to that person. In essence, that person has borrowed the credibility of your friend.
In blogging, this plays out in two ways: social proof and relationships with influencers. When our site displays social proof — through reviews, endorsements, or shares — it helps visitors to know that others find our content valuable. When trusted influencers share our content, it tells others that we know what we are doing.
3. Make A Good First Impression
Professionalism and social etiquette go a long way. If a person enjoys being around you, they are more likely to trust you sooner. Thus, making a good first impression is incredibly important.
It goes deeper, however. While a good first impression paves the way to developing trust, a bad first impression is nearly impossible to recover from.
In February, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology released a series of studies that all reached the same conclusion: we judge a book by its cover. As they began to dig deeper, they discovered that this initial impression — which is almost entirely visual — is highly resistant to change, even when provided with contrary information.
In blogging, this means that we need to put the time in to make sure that our site and our content looks professional. This means that we need to make use of incredible photos, scannable copy, and a pleasing design.
Make sure your visitor loves being on your site from the moment they land on it.
4. Allow Vulnerability
If you are willing to be transparent, open, and honest with others, they are more likely to respond with transparency themselves. Vulnerability builds trust.
This stems from a psychological principle in relationship building known as self-disclosure and reciprocity.
According to sociologist Beverly Fehr, this is how trust develops. As she puts it, “In the early stages of friendship, [trust] tends to be a gradual, reciprocal process. One person takes the risk of disclosing personal information and then ‘tests’ whether the other reciprocates.”
As bloggers, it is easy to remain aloof. Yet, trust requires transparency. Being open about what we have learned from our failures as well as our successes helps build a lasting sense of community.
Because ultimately, that’s what blogging is. It is the development of an engaged community, not simply the cultivation of readers. It is village, a city, a nation.
And its currency is trust.
How do you cultivate trust? Tell us in the comments. Like this article? Share it via the buttons below!