Whether you’re sharing company content with your co-workers, customers, or prospects, you want your audience to feel that they’re in good hands. Your company should be a source of consistent, trustworthy information— not an unreliable organization whose messages are treated with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Trust is top of mind for many business leaders. A 2017 PwC survey found that 58 percent of CEOs worry a lack of trust will hurt their business, up from just 37 percent in 2013. Content that proves unreliable can harm a business’s reputation and spread misinformation across internal teams.
As a content creator or reviewer for your business, you must make sure you recognize what causes your audience to lose trust. Identifying these potential issues will allow you to develop guidelines to help contributors produce trustworthy content and inform your strategy for updating older documents.
What Erodes Trust in Your Content?
Unfortunately, trust can be lost a lot more quickly than it’s gained. There are many different factors that can cause customers or co-workers to lose trust in the content you’re sharing. Some of the biggest red flags may include:
- Out-of-date information. A technology statistic that’s ten years old, an announcement for a live webinar that happened six months ago, a description of a product that’s no longer available— any information that’s showing signs of old age will cause readers to think you don’t care enough to regularly review and update your content.
- Content published by a former employee. This may not always be a dealbreaker, but leaving a lot of posts from former employees on your blog or in your knowledge sharing platform can be another sign that you’re not updating your content frequently enough.
- Inaccurate information. If you share content that hasn’t been fact checked or that references information from a biased source, your audience will have a hard time taking you seriously.
- Inconsistent messaging. Content that directly contradicts something you’ve previously published— or is simply inconsistent with your brand voice and values— can cause confusion and lead to distrust.
Strategies to Build a Library of Trustworthy Content
Did you notice a common theme in the trust erosion factors above? They’re all issues that can occur when you don’t spend enough time reviewing and maintaining your content library. While content maintenance may not be everyone’s idea of a fun activity, it’s an essential part of being an organization that others trust.
And fortunately, maintaining a library of trustworthy content may not be as challenging as you think. You can make the process as painless as possible by setting up a content publication and review system that keeps everyone at your organization on the same page.
Centralize Your Content
One of the first steps you should take is setting up a central hub for your organization’s content. Ideally, this hub should be mobile-friendly so that employees (and customers, if the hub is external-facing) can access it wherever they are. It should also have robust search functionality so that users don’t waste time looking for the information they need.
Storing everything in one easy-to-search place makes it simple to find and review content— and to make sure the messaging stays consistent. Having important content in one accessible platform also helps keep information from getting siloed in one department— and greater transparency means greater trust.
Create a Service-Level Agreement
If you work with multiple content contributors (either in-house, agency, or freelance), you should make sure you’re giving them the information they need so that they can succeed without a lot of oversight. You can do this by creating a service-level agreement (SLA) that outlines brand guidelines and the steps authors should take to fact check their contributions.
For those who regularly share customer-facing content, it’s important to make sure your SLA outlines how to properly cite sources. 46 percent of consumers say they lose trust in brands if they cite a fact or statistic that can’t be corroborated with a non-company source, so knowing when (and who) to credit is critical.
Trust Your Contributors
If your organization has one person who acts as the “gatekeeper” for publishing content, they’re almost guaranteed to experience a bottleneck in the content review process. And if your gatekeeper gets overwhelmed and takes too long to approve a contributor’s content, the contributor may not feel motivated to share their content again.
When it comes to customer-facing content, such as blog posts, you’ll likely still need some sort of review process to make sure the messaging is accurate and aligns with your brand. But if you create a service-level agreement with brand and writing guidelines, contributors will have the information they need to produce polished content, and your reviewers shouldn’t have to spend too much time on edits.
When it comes to internal content, such as process documents or customer win stories, consider letting contributors post without going through a review process. Limiting the restrictions on your authors will likely lead to better (and more frequent) contributions.
It might seem scary to allow authors to publish without going through an approval process, but one thing we’ve found at Bloomfire is that the many will typically correct the errors of the few. In other words, if there’s something inaccurate in a post, others will edit it or flag it for review so that the inaccuracy doesn’t stay up long.
Customize Your Content Verification System
Every organization that publishes content (internally or externally) should have a content maintenance system in place, but not every organization is going to have the same system. The system that works best for your company will depend on how frequently you publish, how fast things change in your industry, who your audience is, and a whole host of other factors.
For example, some companies may find that the best system for them is to assemble a team to review and update content in their knowledge sharing platform once a quarter. (In Bloomfire, you can sort content by date so that you can easily identify and address the oldest content first.)
Others may find that they’re better off creating a service-level agreement that asks contributors to review each other’s work and flag anything they believe needs to be reviewed so that content can be updated continually.
A lot of Bloomfire customers also choose to set review reminders so that they’ll receive notifications to review individual documents at a specified time. This can be useful for organizations who may have certain documents, such as an annual HR agreement, that need to be updated on a regular schedule.
When you first implement a knowledge sharing platform like Bloomfire, work with a team of stakeholders to develop a content review and verification plan that will keep your messaging consistent without causing one person to bear the burden of all maintenance tasks.
By establishing this plan and making sure all contributors understand the role they play in it, you’ll be able to stay on top of your company communication and ensure you’re sharing trustworthy content.