A post-trust era

I recently read a blog from NPR entitled “A Finder’s Guide to Facts.” The piece discusses how to validate information in the so-called post-trust era of news reporting. Today the quest for accessing credible information has never been more challenging. A plethora of sources strafe us with content at a blinding pace.

As a result, we’re forced to ration our conscious thought as our brains siphon through this information in the most efficient way. We make snap-judgments about reading an article based upon a headline, we skim, and we make split-second decisions about whether spending time on a task is justified by the information we expect in return.

As marketers we operate in this post-trust era as well. A brand is about an organization’s relationship with its audience. The key, of course, to building a strong relationship and brand is trust. And that’s best accomplished by connecting in a sincere and authentic way.

Building trust through authenticity

Long before Twitter boasted 317 million users and the term Inbound became a buzzword, I founded a college basketball blog called College Chalktalk. We covered the Atlantic 10 Conference, but were looking to expand nationally. Our audience was comprised of hard-core fans and alums who knew their schools well and could sniff out a fraud. We weren’t going to guess at what made UCLA great. Accuracy meant everything to me as an editor—and to our followers.

Using coaching contacts throughout the Atlantic 10 we reached out to coaches nationwide. Folks at schools like UCLA, North Carolina, Florida, Louisville, Kansas bought in to the concept. The National Coaches’ Diary Series was born. Coaches around the nation providing fans a sincere, beyond closed-doors look at their programs. The series grew from 50 coaches in its first year to nearly 100 coaches writing monthly at its peak.

The inherent trustworthiness of the stories they told was beyond question. For several seasons – until the rise of Twitter provided them a lower-barrier platform to express their thoughts – the NCDS thrived, buoying the College Chalktalk brand, website, and credibility of “regular” bloggers who wrote with it.

Develop brand ambassadorship

So what does this teach us? As marketers it’s more important than ever to remain committed to the simple premise that made College Chalktalk so effective. Search for your ideal ambassadors – those who possess the subject matter knowledge and connect with your audience in a sincere way – to help you tell your story. It’s a fail-safe method to establish trust, build a community that engages with your brand on an emotional level, and help you achieve your business goals.