Build Credibility through Honesty Online

Image courtesy of birgerking's photostream

Image courtesy of birgerking’s photostream

Have you heard the news? We’re supposed to get anywhere from ten to fifty times more snowfall this winter, and it’s supposed to start in late September/early October according to empirenews.net. This particular article has pervaded my Facebook wall for much of the past month and has had me packing for a trip to the equator ever since. In fact, a friend of mine has already begun stocking up on supplies in anticipation of this severe weather event.

If you’re sitting there reading this and saying to yourself: “This is unbelievable,” you’re right in thinking so. The article in question was actually written as a piece of satire on the 2014 Farmer’s Almanac prediction of frost in the final days of September. In fact, Empire News is actually a satire website disguised as a news authority, but you wouldn’t know that without scrolling ALL the way down to the bottom of their page and clicking on the tiny button that says “Disclaimer” and really, who takes the time to do that?

The moral of this brief precautionary tale is a simple one: the age of information has also brought about a world of misinformation. Satire articles like this pass for actual news to the unsuspecting passerby who catch the headline on their Facebook or Twitter feed, and it doesn’t stop there. Native Advertising has begun to take over the go-to choice for big name organizations to promote their products and services.

With the increasing ability and access for (literally) anyone to create a website, an online news article, or even a blog, it’s understandable that many are skeptical of the things that they read online. While many view this as a problem of the internet, I like to think of it as a huge advantage to you, my fellow marketers, and an opportunity to gain a large online following with one simple principle: Report the truth.

One of the most valuable commodities on the internet today is knowledge, and if your website, social media account, or blog allows users to access truthful, useful information, you will gain the trust of your users and will, in time, make you a go-to source in your field of choice. It doesn’t have to be time consuming either. Utilizing the “share” button is a great way to augment your online offerings if you don’t have original content to share. The key is to make sure what you’re sharing and discussing is factual, relatively current (or interesting if you’re depicting a trend), and relevant to your audience.

Of course, this is just one small component to building a successful online presence but it is a small, key concept that many companies overlook or ignore in lieu of “tricking” their target audience into clicking on their misleading link. Bucking the trend by posting the facts and being up front about what you’re sharing, you’ll put yourself into a good position to be a clear stand-out in an oversaturated arena.

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