How To Get Inside Your Reader’s Circle of Trust

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Listen here Focker…This is the Circle of Trust. Right Now…you are OUTSIDE the Circle of Trust.

I can’t count how many times I have leveled this classic line From Meet the Parents at unsuspecting strangers, colleagues, and (potential) family members. It’s also amazing how The Circle of Trust brilliantly organizes the world into two camps; Them and Us.

The problem is that most bloggers don’t recognize that admission into their reader’s Circle of Trust isn’t automatic. Not by a long-shot.

The Sad Truth About Your Readers

They are in over their heads.

In fact, your readers are actively searching for a reason to ignore you. They don’t want another RSS feed to read. They don’t want another bookmark. They don’t need another excuse to waste their afternoon surfing your blog.

But they DO want someone they can trust. Thankfully for us, this need for authentic reliable relationships still brings readers to our doorstep. Gain this trust and you’ll be given the golden key that unlocks their attention and their wallet.

However, the normal playbook for gaining this trust isn’t what you may think.  The old stand-bys of flashy graphics, sophisticated copywriting, and cotton-candy emotional appeals don’t work like they used to.  Your reader’s Circle of Trust is made out of titanium guarded by a mean squad of Marines.  A frontal assault won’t work.

That’s why I’ve cooked up  7 unconventional techniques to get you invited, with open arms,  into your reader’s Circle:

#1. Admit Weakness

People hate perfection in others. It’s a weird quirk of human nature that keeps everyone on a level playing field. It’s the reason why people love to see celebrities and shiny brands trip on their face. On the other hand, vulnerability is the new black. If you mess up, admit it quick. You’ll show that you are human and worthy of trust.

#2. Be Transparent

I believe that transparency is one of the most valuable traits of a trustworthy brand. Transparency is about being clear about your motives. If you want to sell something – say so. If you are making an affiliate commission – just give your readers a heads up.  You’ll be surprised by how much your your reader’s value your openness.  This is the #1 reason why top online marketers aren’t worried by FTC testimonial regulations; simply, they’ve always be open with their readers – they never required a law.  Follow their lead.

#3. Be the Momma Bear

Protect your tribe. Let me put it another way – ALWAYS have your readers’ back. Make sure they get 100% accurate information. Insist that guest bloggers contribute their best work. Boot troublemakers quickly and without mercy.

Something magical happens when a person realizes that they can sleep easy knowing that you’re standing guard.

#4. Make Your a Content Win/Win

Strive to offer your best content in exchange for something. It can be an email address, a comment, or cold-hard cash. It’s up to you but always make it clear that you and the reader are involved in an exchange of value. Simply – you value something they have and you want to trade.

At a primal level this just feels right. We all hate to owe people, and we especially hate to owe someone when we feel like we’ll be manipulated later. Avoid this trust killer by being upfront and frank about what each of you stand to gain in the exchange.  By the way, if you give away something for free…make it truly free – without a “gotcha” later on.  This is a huge trust builder

#5. K.I.S.S.

Are you Keeping It Simple Stupid?

Jay Heinrichs in his awesome book “Thank You for Arguing” points out that although John Kerry clearly won the 2006 Presidential debates, he still wasn’t considered trustworthy. Think about it. Intelligence isn’t a prerequisite for trust– the simpler you are the more you trustworthy you become.

This is a tough lesson, but it doesn’t always pay to be the smartest cookie in the room. By the way,

#6. Always Inspire

Take a moment to read through your blog comment responses. Are you cheerleading for your readers? Are you encouraging them to push forward? Are you handling everyone as a person that gets your undivided attention?

When you shift your focus away from posts and back to people you naturally inspire them. When you do, you create trust.

#7. Just Ask

Yep, ask for your reader’s trust. Sounds so simple that it’s comical but many folks just assume that they are entitled to trust. You’re not. You ask for it by spending quality time with your About Me page, offering sincere advice, and always “showing up” for your fans.

Not only will these 7 tips earn you a seat in the Circle of Trust, they will also attract a growing following of engaged and passionate readers.

I’m curious, How are you earning trust with your readers? How are you being transparent and inspiring your tribe?

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

20 thoughts on “How To Get Inside Your Reader’s Circle of Trust

  1. tommyismyname

    This is great stuff Stanford!

    Thinking about it, it's very true that people don't want to read another blog. They don't want to get to know you, they don't want to spend more time filtering down more information.

    It's all about being useful, honest, and conversational. I firmly believe that anyone who is looking to profit off of the internet needs to spend a considerable amount of time first developing their voice and tone so they can easily build trust with their target market.

    Without trust, there is nothing.

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  3. Michael B Wilbraham

    This is the first time I’ve stopped by your blog Stanford, as a result it is also the first post of yours that I have read too. I am impressed with the quality & value. I am a realtively new blogger, almost 4 months now, & have just launched my second blog. What you have shared here is truly valuable to me as a blogger & I say thank you for sharing.

    Stay inspired, Michael

  4. Stacey Curnow

    So many great tips! Thanks, Stanford!

    I need to work on #7. Most of my readers are busy mamas and I don't want to put one more thing on their long to-do lists. But if I ask for simple, direct action ("please pass this email along"), I get a wonderful response. This post is just the encouragement to I need to do more of it!

    Thanks again for a great post! Take wonderful care, Stacey

  5. Jay Heinrichs

    Love this entry, but then I’m biased. (Thanks for the “awesome” plug on my book!)

    Brand managers should know that the ancient Greeks invented branding a few thousand years ago. They called it Ethos.

  6. pushingsocial Post author

    Thanks Jay, it was an awesome read. Brian over at @copyblogger clued me in! Didn't know about the Brand = Ethos Greek connection. Makes sense

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  8. aesira

    Coming from an editorial background, blogging has been a completely new experience in tone for me. I believe it's a necessary challenge though to speak from my own perspective and admit my mistakes in order for others to save some time and effort avoiding them. I often have to rewrite things a few times to give it that "me" tone, instead of the "from the expert" view I'm so comfortable with. :) I really like tip #3 as well. You need to establish early what you want your readers to do so they are ready and comfortable with it.
    My recent post How To Determine Whether Your Idea Is Good

  9. Michelle Buettner

    This is really fantastic. #3 really hit home with me after having some conversations with fellow bloggers about guest posts recently.

    Thanks for such a great, useful list!

  10. pushingsocial Post author

    I know what you mean about #5. Working in the ad business for 10 years turned me into a buzz word crippled snob. It took a few years to just talk like a human being again! (By the way – My mom loves your blog – kinda weird for me to know – but true)

  11. patrickreyes

    Great post Stanford. This is a fantastic gut check for everyone that writes a blog. I'm of the opinion of putting others before yourself, encouraging others and providing information that helps people grow. If that is one of your core beliefs, then membership into the circle of trust is granted.

  12. Treacle

    1 and #5 really hit home for me. When I first started blogging, I wanted to sound like an authority and an expert and like I knew sooo much about my topic. I wrote like a professor giving a lecture, and no one wants to be lectured at.

    That’s still a tone I struggle with hit (blame it on too many years of school), but I’m consciously tryingi to talk to my readers the same way I talk to my friends…like we’re just chilling, having a conversation, about a topic we both love.
    My recent post First Class Curves- How to Create a Feminine Shape

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  14. Through a New Lens

    You see, it's posts like this that make me enjoy reading your material. We think very much alike and I couldn't agree more with what you have said. I'm not here to say you've left anything out, just that I appreciate what you do when you do it and look forward to reading more.

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