The other day, I was chatting with a friend about some of the most important parts of gaining a loyal following. Trust creates loyalty between you and your audience. Some people think there is a technique or piece of content that will make followers trust their brand. Trust happens over an extended period, and it can't be forced. There is a big difference between having someones' attention vs. having their trust. Attention is fleeting, but trust is a long-term investment in a person or brand.
"...with pop-culture, there's always the new-new popping up every day, some people are culture vulture and shape their content to follow the hype. Those people burn bright but don’t burn long."
-Gusto NYC, Creative, Maker, Futurist, Influencer (Click Here to follow him on Instagram 📷)
Here are three types of trust that you need to develop to build and maintain a loyal following:
People need to trust that your brand voice will be consistent.
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to brands is inconsistencies in brand voice. For example, pretend I'm running a hip hop gossip blog whose readers are teenagers ages 15-19. If I know that my target demographic is teens, then I am going to tailor my headlines and vocabulary to that group. I can't one day start writing blogs using SAT prep words because that isn't how my readers speak. On top of that, it will confuse my subscribers because it isn't congruent with everything else on my site. That inconsistency could cause people to unsubscribe from my blog. There is a link between familiarity and trust. If you want to maintain the confidence of your audience, keep your voice consistent.
People need to trust that you will not abuse your direct connection with them.
Don't spam people's inboxes. I have a person who keeps re-adding me to their mailing list after I've unsubscribed many times! This guy sends at least 5-6 pointless emails per day. When you market like this, you turn into the sleazy, pushy salesman who no one wants to be around. I can't trust that you will respect my inbox. As a result, I will block you and tell all my friends to avoid you like the plague. Co-founder of Digg, Kevin Rose has an excellent monthly newsletter Called, "The Journal." I look forward to Kevin's correspondence because he respects my inbox! Moreover, he always provides valuable content that I can use. And he only sends it once a month! Every newsletter is purposeful.
I trust Kevin Rose.
People need to trust that you are credible.
In a world of ever-present fake news, you need to be credible. An example of this was when ABC News fired Chief Investigative Correspondent, Brian Ross for reporting misinformation about former national security advisor, Michael Flynn.
"During a live "special report" Friday morning, Ross reported that Flynn would testify that Donald Trump had ordered him to make contact with Russians about foreign policy while he was still a candidate. The report raised the specter of Trump's impeachment and sent the stock market plummeting."
-ABC News suspends Brian Ross over 'serious error' in Trump-Flynn report,Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News
Two parties got screwed here. First, Brian Ross destroyed years of credibility by throwing out a false story. It does not matter if the public has followed a pundit for years if he or she reports misinformation, Trust dies. Secondly, ABC's credibility comes into question as well by association. No one wins here. Always have credible sources to back your claims.