By Maralee Sautter, IDL SIG Manager
Margot Bloomstein was the opening keynote speaker at the 2022 Summit. She is a respected content strategist and author who has worked with many large companies to improve their marketing strategies. She is the author of Trustworthy: How the Smartest Brands Beat Cynicism and Bridge the Trust Gap and Content Strategy at Work: Real-World Stories to Strengthen Every Interactive Project and is the principal of Appropriate, Inc., a brand and content strategy consultancy based in Boston.
Her engaging presentation was How to Foster Trust in a Brand Through Better Content. She contends that in today’s economy, organizations need a new strategy to earn trust and help consumers and citizens make confident decisions. Audiences have become more cynical and mistrusting of large companies and authorities because the information delivered is no longer trustworthy.
In a world where trust is broken, organizations can empower audience confidence by delivering trustworthy information through voice, volume, and vulnerability:
- Voice: Consistency in voice and plain language are key factors in delivering trustworthy content. Ms. Bloomstein used a Mailchimp blog to show how the company manager informed customers about changes coming to an e-commerce product; the message was written to display empathy and concern about changes and explained concern about possible missteps that could happen. The message was simple, vulnerable, and honest.
- Volume: Ms. Bloomstein used America’s Test Kitchen as an example of volume. On the website, people can access detailed history and chemistry, for a deeper read, or just focus on getting the recipe for dinner tonight. While all the information is available, the user is the one who decides what information is needed. If the information results in a successful experience, then confidence and trust are built in the product and self.
- Vulnerability: Sharing openly and admitting to mistakes. Volkswagen uses a tool that compares options with other car companies. If the customer needs something other than what Volkswagen has, then the tool sends the user to another company’s website. By providing unbiased information, Volkswagen is building confidence in the audience so they can make informed decisions.
Ms. Bloomstein wrapped up her presentation by acknowledging that smart organizations teach their audiences to evaluate product options, engage in continuous self-education, and make more informed choices. By creating a confident user, companies can build bridges between cynicism and hope, which in turn leads to consumer trust.
The Internet and social media have changed the way organizations have tried to control the information that we receive. There are algorithms, databases, and social platforms collecting data on us every day. It unnerves me when I see my browsing experiences displayed on my Comcast/Xfinity landing page. These are companies that I consider untrustworthy.
In politics, social networks can create misinformation through diffusion and subterfuge. We already have many decisions to make in our daily lives, and trying to figure out the facts is overwhelming. As Ms. Bloomstein alludes, we cannot rely on a fair authority like Walter Cronkite to deliver unbiased news anymore. So, many of us just disconnect. I do it by ignoring Facebook feeds from companies I don’t know or by turning off the news.
I would like to see organizations become more transparent and allow consumers to decide what information is needed to make good decisions, instead of organizations filtering information to control the user. Unfortunately, the cynic in me says there aren’t enough of the good guys left out there to do the right thing. But at least, I can hope, along with Margot Bloomstein, that there are a few who will change the paradigm.