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Trust Fractures: How to Avoid Accidentally Eroding Your Brand’s Credibility

Avoiding Unintended Brand Trust Fractures Recently, we’ve been running a series of posts here on the TopRank Marketing Blog called “Trust Factors,” where we explore techniques that modern brands can use to build trust and credibility with digital audiences. There are numerous examples of companies building trust with best-answer content and boosting credibility with influencer marketing for this purpose. Marketers are always seeking creative ways to forge genuine connections while standing out from the pack. New research from Edelman shows that consumers now have higher expectations than ever when it comes to brand responsibility. However, it’s worth pointing out that these efforts (even with the best of intentions) can backfire. When steps taken to strengthen trust instead have the opposite effect, we call these “Trust Fractures.” A recent example got me thinking about the subject, and why marketers everywhere should be cognizant of its lurking danger.

A (North) Face Plant on Wikipedia

Wikipedia. According to Moz, its domain authority is among the highest on the web. Search marketers are accustomed to competing with the community-driven online resource’s informational results atop SERPs of all kinds. Brands occasionally attempt to co-opt Wikipedia’s popularity and inherent trust factor in various ways. The North Face, an outdoor recreation product and clothing company, recently teamed up with agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made for a seemingly savvy initiative: taking high-quality photos of athletes in North Face gear at notable locations around the globe, then uploading them as featured pictures for the pages covering those landmarks on Wikipedia. The idea is pretty straightforward; when a user runs a Google search to learn about state parks and mountains and the like, they’ll click on the Wikipedia entry and find North Face products and logos within the imagery. In addition to the powerful authority for an image hosted on wikipedia.org helping these graphics rank very highly in image searches, there’s also the subconscious connection created in one’s mind when they see the North Face brand embedded in photos of these beautiful places. For a while, it seemed to be working, as explained by a recent writeup in AdAge. But when Wikipedia’s moderators became aware of the scheme, they were none too pleased. Unsurprisingly, this kind of activity goes against the non-profit website’s terms of service. “Adding content that is solely intended to promote a company or its products goes against the spirit, purpose and policies of Wikipedia to provide neutral, fact-based knowledge to the world. It exploits a free public learning platform for corporate gain,” said a representative from the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit that runs Wikipedia. (Source) “What The North Face and Leo Burnett did wasn’t clever or impressive—it was duplicitous, using Wikipedia’s openness against it, and in fact was directly contradictory to Wikipedia’s Terms of Use,” one of Wikipedia’s volunteer editors told AdAge. This particular editor, William Beutler, also happens to be the CEO of his own agency (Beutler Ink), making his sharp words toward Leo Burnett extra-spicy. Wikipedia’s editors removed the offending images. North Face issued an apology. Perhaps they still consider the entire endeavor worthwhile given all the attention it garnered. But in their effort to gain brand trust and recognition by earning high search placements and associating (indirectly) with the Wikipedia name, North Face and its agency come out looking at best aloof, and at worst “duplicitous.”

How to Steer Clear of Trust Fractures

Sometimes, Trust Fractures are the simple results of blatant missteps by a brand or its representatives. These are relatively easy to avoid (don’t do shady stuff!). Instances like the one above, where a trust-diminishing situation arises as an unforeseen consequence, are tougher to eradicate but can be reduced through deeper and more comprehensive planning. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your programs are strengthening trust rather than weakening it.

#1: Do Things for the Right Reasons

You can’t — for lack of a better term — “black-hat” your way into trust. There’s no gaming human emotions. If your brand’s actions aren’t genuine, people (and even search algorithms) will get wise, because both are growing a lot more adept. [bctt tweet=”There’s no gaming human emotions. If your brand’s actions aren’t genuine, people (and even search algorithms) will get wise, because both are growing a lot more adept. @NickNelsonMN #TrustInMarketing” username=”toprank”] If you create content solely for the purpose of ranking high on search, rather than fulfilling your audience’s questions and curiosities, then a best-answer approach isn’t going to deliver the results you desire. The former should arrive as a natural consequence of the latter. I’ve come across numerous keyword-stacked pages that bury you in lead-gen fields as soon as you arrive. Not only will users reject these kinds of tactics, but because of the correspondingly low time-on-page and high bounce rates, Google will too. The same goes for influencer marketing. When done right, as a mutually beneficial and fully engaged partnership, it’s a boon for credibility. But if you’re merely paying someone to associate your brand with them, it’s likely to be transparent to both their following and yours. We see this a lot in the B2C Instagram space, which (from my view) helps explain why millennials are reporting lower levels of influencer trust. So I repeat: do things for the right reasons. Was there a purpose in North Face’s Wikipedia-image play other than sneaking its brand name into objective informational content? Perhaps, but it doesn’t really come off looking that way.

#2: Avoid the Fauxthenticity Pitfall

I wrote about this last year, and it goes hand-in-hand with the point above. Basically, when brands try too hard to convey authenticity in hopes of building trust with their audience, it can make them look even more out-of-touch. This is the core issue afflicting many pay-to-play influencer engagements with Instagram celebrities, including one particularly cringeworthy example I cited in the linked post. When I see someone with millions of followers write nice but seemingly scripted things about a product, followed by hashtags indicating it’s an #ad, I have a really hard time trusting the legitimacy of the endorsement. I know I’m not alone.

#3: Think Through Outcomes and Next-Steps

Thinking strategically is always vital as a marketer, especially in cases like these. That means looking at the big picture. What was the end-game with North Face’s image play? Did their agency foresee this possibility? They probably should have, since Wikipedia’s terms aren’t locked up in secret somewhere. With any trust-building initiative, it’s important to account for what comes next. Where might things go wrong? Are there angles we aren’t considering? How might a certain action be perceived differently than we’re intending? Without the benefit of experience and seasoned perspective, it can be difficult if not impossible to think through all the effects that might ripple outward from a program or campaign. In this regard, it’s extremely helpful to enlist an agency partner with a strong track record of astute judgment.

Keep Marketing Trust Intact

When looking at the present digital marketing landscape, I frequently think about the saying that trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets. It’s so true, and so germane to this particular discussion. We as brands work so hard to establish and sustain genuine trust with our customers, prospects, and audiences that preventable backslides can be a real gut-punch. [bctt tweet=”As the old adage goes: Trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets. #B2BMarketing #trust” username=”toprank”] Here at TopRank Marketing, we’ve written often (and will continue to write often) about Trust Factors that can solidify relationships between your company and the people it serves. But it is equally important to be aware of potential Trust Fracture risks. By maintaining genuine intentions, avoiding forced authenticity, and adhering to a holistic strategic vision, you’ll be on track to stay clear of face plants and fissures in the delicate balance of trust. Want to learn more about the state of marketing trust today, with plenty of data-driven insight? Check out Tip of the Iceberg: A Story of Trust in Marketing as Told by Statistics

The post Trust Fractures: How to Avoid Accidentally Eroding Your Brand’s Credibility appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild

Hey, friend, have you heard the good news about podcasts? 

Given the most recent stats, it’s highly likely you have. Over half of all Americans over 12 years of age have listened to at least one. Podcasts have well and truly hit the mainstream. In other words, the gold rush is on for brands looking to connect with a highly-engaged, long-attention-span audience.

However, getting a podcast up and running isn’t as simple as publishing a blog. We recently published an entire B2B podcasting webinar to walk you through the entire process, from conception to publication. This post will zero in on the choices you need to make and the steps you need to take to release your podcast into the wild.

B2B Podcasting Launch Checklist: 10 Steps

Sure, you could just upload your audio to your web server, add an RSS feed, and call it good. But if you want people to actually find and listen to your podcast, there are a few extra steps you should take. This checklist will help your podcast find an audience and start building a subscriber base.

via GIPHY

#1: Choose Your Hosting Platform

A podcast syndication platform makes it easy to publish your podcast and get listed in directories. Think of it like WordPress is for your blog — it hosts the files, makes them look pretty, and makes it so people can find them.

Most platforms will also give you embed codes for embedding episodes in blog posts or on a landing page. You’ll also get stats on how many people are downloading episodes, and on what program they’re listening.

We prefer Libsyn as our hosting platform. Podbean, buzzsprout, and Blubrry are also solid options. They all have a free tier of hosting, but you’ll want to pay a few bucks a month for bandwidth and analytics.

#2: Upload Your First Three Episodes

Podcasting is all about establishing a regular cadence (more on that later). But for launch, you’ll want to have at least three episodes ready to go. There are a few reasons for publishing multiple episodes for your debut:

  1. One episode may not be enough to convince people to subscribe. 
  2. Multiple episodes show you’re committed to keeping the content coming.
  3. Most importantly, Apple podcasts requires at least three episodes to qualify for their “New and Noteworthy” section. 

So before you publish, have at least three episodes completed, and be ready to follow up with more at your promised publishing cadence.

#3:  Register with Podcast Directories

Podcasts are peculiar in terms of content delivery. Your hosting platform makes the files available, but most people will listen to your podcast on their chosen podcast app. Each app maintains its own directory — think of it as a search engine for podcasts. 

Your podcast needs to be listed in their directory, or people won’t be able to find you. I recommend registering with at least these six:

  1. Apple Podcasts
  2. Google Podcasts
  3. Stitcher
  4. Podbean
  5. Spotify
  6. TuneIn

Each of these sites will ask for the RSS feed of your podcast, which your hosting platform will generate for you.

I created a podcast tracker to keep track of all these directories — sign up for the webinar and you can download it for free.

B2B Podcast Tracker

#4: Promote Internally

Gaining visibility on a podcast directory is tricky business. Apple and Google are where the majority of your listeners will be, and each employs an algorithm to promote podcasts in search results and feature pages.

How do you get an algorithm’s attention? Engagement! Start by promoting your podcast to all of your employees. Encourage them to subscribe on Apple or Google, give a rating, and write a brief (and honest) review. What’s more, draft some social messages and encourage everyone to promote the podcast to their networks, too.

That base level of initial engagement will help your podcast start finding its audience.

#5: Activate Your Influencers

Most podcasts are Q&A-style interviews with influential guests. If your podcast includes influencers in your industry, make sure they know as soon as their episode goes live. Give them the tools to promote the podcast easily:

  • Sample social messages
  • Social media images in the correct sizes
  • Embed codes

If your podcast doesn’t feature influencers, it’s worth re-evaluating your strategy for your next season. Influencer content not only is more valuable to your audience, it’s an indispensable channel for promotion.

#6: Publish Blog Posts

The one downside of audio content: It’s not super crawlable for SEO purposes. Granted, Google has started to auto-transcribe episodes and add them to search results, but the technology is still in the early stages.

To truly get some SEO juice from your podcast, we recommend embedding each podcast in a blog post. This example from the Tech Unknown Podcast by SAP* shows how simple it can be. All you need is an introduction, a few pull quotes, some key takeaways, and a transcript.

#7: Add Paid Promotion

As with any content, you want to use every tactic available to make sure it gets seen by your target audience. That’s especially true with podcasts, since podcast search engines are incredibly competitive.

Targeted, paid social promotion can help establish your subscriber base and get your new podcast some much-needed visibility.

It’s also worth considering cross-promotion on other podcasts. Consider both paid advertising and trading guest spots with a podcast that shares your target audience. 

#8: Solicit Listener Feedback

Ratings and reviews are essential to your podcast’s success. They’ll help provide social proof for new listeners and boost your search visibility in podcast directories. 

The best way to get ratings and reviews? Ask for them. Make it part of each episode’s sign-off. You can even encourage thoughtful reviews by reading the best ones on future episodes. You will engage your listeners and solicit more reviews at the same time.

#9: Keep Up Your Cadence

As with blog content, there’s no single “right” frequency to publish a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts publish weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. The best cadence for your podcast is “However frequently you can reliably, regularly publish quality content.”

Choose your cadence with an eye to long-term sustainability, and tell your listeners explicitly how frequently you’ll publish. Whether it’s “See you next week,” or “PodcastTitle is a monthly podcast that…” listeners will find it easier to make your podcast a habit if you stick to a schedule.

#10: Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

In my last post on the content marketing benefits of B2B podcasting, I mentioned that podcasts are a content machine, and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to finish an episode, publish it, then forget it and move on to the next thing. But don’t do that! 

Pull snippets of audio content for social media. Turn them into short videos, too: Add a still image or a simple looping GIF for visual interest.

Use your transcriptions as fodder for future blog posts, quotes for influencer marketing, or even a stand-alone asset. 

Any way you can reuse that content can help bring more listeners to your podcast. What’s more, putting the content in a different medium can reach an audience who might not be into podcasts (yet). 

Check, Check, One Two

Launching a podcast is a little trickier than launching a new blog, especially if you’re new to the format. But if you follow this checklist, you can make sure your podcast is available on all the right channels and is ready to start attracting an audience.

Need more podcasting help? Check out our B2B Podcasting Webinar. In addition to learning the Four P’s of podcasting success, you’ll see me make this face:

B2B Podcasting Face

*Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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