|Top 10 Things You Must Do to Earn Your Audience’s Trust|
|Tuesday, 23 March 2010 22:56|
Below is a list of ten things you must do to earn the trust of your online audience. The list is written from a crowdfunding perspective, but this advice really applies to anyone working in social media and seeking the trust of their users.
Earning the Public Trust
1. Tell us who you are. Do you have a website with your name as the domain? If not, get a social networking profile, fill it out completely, and use the domain to point to your profile.
2. Choose your best picture. Common sense, right? But you also want to avoid staged photos that look like you’re selling real estate. Look for a photo that tells your story and use it consistently across all your profiles.
3. Don’t setup a profile on every network. Find your tent poles (Twitter (), Facebook ()), then use one or two smaller networks, like FourSquare () and Streamy (), and maintain a healthy presence on them. This way, you are where the crowd currently is, and positioned for where they will be.
4. Own your subject. You don’t need to be an expert at first. You should work hard to become one, but when you’re starting out, you should find the book other books and websites in your area reference. Read that book. As time goes on, pick up the books that book referenced. Most non-fiction books tend to regurgitate what’s already out (ditto for websites), but by going to the core book and then going from there you will be ahead of the game.
5. Don’t be fake. A problem many people face online is that we’re sensitive to what everyone wants, so we try to fake it. Nobody wants to give money to a phony. Take the material you’ve learned and put your own spin on it. It won’t be for everyone, but everyone won’t give you money, anyway. People who like and trust you, however, will. Find your voice and the people it appeals to.
6. Be Available. Can I call you? Can I send snail mail? If you want money from your audience and press attention, you need to provide a way to quickly and easily contact you.
7. Be Transparent. Matthew Zachary of the I’m Too Young For This Foundation once said to me that his organization was “Obama-like” in terms of transparency. For any project using your audience’s money, you too have to be “Obama-like” in your transparency. Public budgets, public documents, public receipts, even your emails should be public. Not everything has to be released in the early stages — many crowdfunders fear the loss of their idea to a competitor — but when the project is in motion, open your vaults.
8. Write for the web. People won’t trust what they won’t read. Keep your material short, simple, and useful. Use sub-headings, have a great first sentence (your lead), and keep the article short.
9. Document everything. How are you keeping us posted? Use video more than tweets and blog posts, and update your audience (at least) once a week. Video () is the most personal method of online communication.
10. Answer every message. Tweets, video comments, emails. Answer everything. Even if it takes you forever, reply to everyone. If you are building an audience, you have a responsibility (and note, I’m saying you, not your assistant) to reply to your audience until the project has finished.
Earning the public trust takes time. But by following these ten steps consistently, you will be able to help your project succeed.
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