Discover how to Build Trust with an Online Audience

A four-year study presented at SXSW uncovers tips for developing credibility online

In the Mequoda Daily yesterday, we discussed Twitter tips for engaging your audience.

To continue this conversation, I recently came across some additional insight on how to properly interact with an online audience to build trust with them.

Doreen Marchionni is an editor at The Seattle Times and she teaches at Pacific Lutheran University. She has spent the last four years studying how journalists can build trust and credibility with an online audience for her Ph.D.

She shared findings from her doctoral dissertation yesterday at SXSW, the annual music, film and interactive conference in Austin, TX. Below are her findings, which every journalist, editor and blogger should take the time to read.

-Use the tools of the Internet to commit journalism

-Provide online bio pages with photos

-Produce reporter-focused short videos

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-Look to columnists and the Sports Department for cues

-Bring audiences into the process

-Don’t forget to close the loop

-Balance formal and informal tones carefully

The massive acceptance of social media plays a part in some of these findings. For instance, social media can be used for crowdsourcing and encouraging feedback. It is also a great way to get ideas on what to write back. This way you can determine what your audience wants to hear about more often.

Another point the article brought up was closing the loop on reader engagement. If you end up crowdsourcing or inviting audience to participate in the process, you need to be transparent about it. Not only will the audience appreciate the openness behind your actions, they will be more apt to participate in the future.

Regardless of how conversational you become as a writer, it’s still important to stay professional. Connect with your audience as a human, but communicate your content to them with fairness, balance and honesty.

This article from Poynter. contains additional information on the seven steps that Marchionni discussed at SXSW.


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