Avoid These 4 Things When Building Brand Credibility Online

There is no doubt that we live in a world where instant gratification is a constant demand. Those of us with something to sell are faced with the challenge of being the shiniest object in a universe of shiny objects. Brands want to get noticed quickly.

In ever-increasing competition for customers, it can be tempting to just put on a show. However, it takes time and dedication to build your business’ online credibility. You’ll regret taking shortcuts when someone sees what’s really behind the curtain and lets everyone know.

Instead, create and stick to an honest strategy to build your credibility online. Here are four things you should avoid doing along the way.

1. Varnished Truths

If you’re exaggerating, misleading, or outright lying about your business to make it look amazing, you’ve missed the point of credibility. Honest and consistent communication is essential to credibility, as well as delivering what you promise to your customers.

Don’t try to circumvent the truth by using fancy or vague language. If you respond to potential objections to content on your website by saying “technically” it’s not dishonest, don’t use that content. Lying by omission does not build credibility.

Irrelevant content is dishonest in its own way, so don’t create that either. Readers hate clicking on a link that interests them only to find something unrelated and unimportant. In fact, they’re increasingly savvy about filtering out irrelevant content, and they hate the brands that put it out there.

You also won’t fool anyone by only posting positive reviews on your website and social media. Someone will voice issues with your product or customer experience. Post the bad review with your response and your brand will be credible.

Consumers are increasingly skeptical and knowledgeable. They have a multitude of brands to choose from when making a buying decision, and they do their research to find the best fit. A little polish is fine, but aim to give them the unvarnished truth.

2. Anything nauseous

Avoid being overly promotional in your online marketing efforts. Demagogy can attract attention, but not in the right way. No one likes a showoff, including consumers, competitors, and search engines.

Spammy online marketing practices are not only extremely annoying. They can destroy trust in your brand and send prospects and customers looking for cover. How to avoid these tactics?

Make sure your website design is clean, informative, and easy to navigate on a variety of devices. Beware of the overuse of pop-ups, slide-ins, and video clips that launch without the user’s request or, worse, without them even knowing they’re there.

Not that you should give up on these tactics altogether. A well-placed exit intent popup can be all it takes to convert a prospect. What you should avoid, however, is overbidding. It’s okay to let consumers know what’s great about your product without claiming to be infinitely superior to a crowded group of competitors. Instead, use your competitors’ strengths to advance the industry, honestly compare your products, and demonstrate your industry know-how.

Consumers are generally wary, knowing that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And nothing will irritate search engines faster than overtly promotional content. There are plenty of spammy ways to promote your brand to the point of nausea. Resist them or risk losing your credibility forever.

3. Bad Context

Your brand will be judged by the company you keep, so be careful about the relationships you build. Of course, you want to see your brand name mentioned and your content printed in prominent publications. You want to find your products ranked high in top listings on reputable sites. You want respected media to interview you for stories.

Dozens of other brands also achieve these goals, so you’ll need to be patient and strategic. Avoid the temptation to tie your brand in any way to sketchy posts because you think that’s better than nothing at all.

You may choose to hire an agency to help you develop placement strategies and content. There are almost as many agencies as there are online publications, and not all of them are reputable. Avoid keyword stuffers and spam commenters. The publications and blogs you want to appear in know who these bad actors are.

Review your agencies by checking references and reviews. It will be worth paying one more than another if the more expensive agency demonstrates a commitment to business ethics and a track record of results.

Bad press, or press in bad publications, is really no better than no press at all. So be selective about the context in which you place your brand. Keeping good company can make you the company consumers keep.

4. Trending Topics

Trends are the shining objects of the day. Too many brands, hoping to capitalize on this, leave their carefully crafted and executed marketing strategies in the gutter to keep up with the latest fads.

There’s nothing wrong with using a trend in a smart way as long as it’s relevant to the brand and your audience. But avoid switching from one flash in the pan to another as a regular practice. By their very nature, trends are fleeting.

If you want your brand credibility to remain long-term, stick to what works in your marketing strategy. Of course, social media makes it easier to cling to fashions. Content catering to the latest internet meme or celebrity trend can be created and released to the world in minutes, often at the expense of credibility.

In fact, trends can cause irreparable damage if left untargeted. Do you really understand the nuances of today’s trending hashtag? Once you put it in there, it’s too late to take it out, so beware.

Clever use of a trending topic here and there is okay and can actually attract new audience members. But in the end, it’s the ongoing content of your brand that will cultivate trust in your business. Use anything else with extreme caution.

Online credibility is built over time, so avoid looking for quick fixes, no matter how enticing. Instead of grabbing the shiny new tactic, apply a little spit and polish to the ones you’re already using. You will give readers, customers, search engines and competitors something to believe in.