Digital Relationships


Road-trip This week Dana VanDen Heuvel, Bill Flitter and I will be on the road to Seattle for the last stop of our mini road trip for the American Marketing Association Hot Topic Workshop -  Digital-Centered Marketing.

It seems like kismet to me, for you see, it was almost 4-years to the day that Dana, Bill and I we were in Seattle for the very first national program on how marketers could use blogs - which was also sponsored by AMA. At that session we were joined by Robert Scoble, Ben McConnell and Dave Williams. Almost all of the speakers had met through some aspect of social media/blogs and most had never met in-person. It was a program build on digital relationships about digital relationships.

We learned a lot from those early days when social media, Facebook, Twitter and social networks were not even part of the vernacular. We were taught our first lessons in blogger relations by TDavid. What begin as a rather sticky situation ended up in a better program and a new friend. I'm thrilled that TDavid will be joining us on Friday. Lessons Learned from TDavid

One blogger can be the snowflake that can start an avalanche. There is risk and reward in a blogged economy. - TDavid

>Bloggers are people who want to connect. They want to know that they are being heard. Bloggers care.

>With the easy use of blogs, micro blogs, podcasts, vlogs and other social media tools marketers can not control how customers will reposition a carefully crafted message.

>You can not control customers’ conversations. The secret is you never could. However, you can manage those conversations by listening, participating, and caring.

Blogger social Collage_MARCH_5_Low 

Which has me thinking more about the challenges of building trusted digital     relationships using social media. It seems there are two aspects: the digital/web-based and the personal.

Although developed for traditional websites Stanford's Guidelines for Web Credibility provides some guidance on the first.

1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.

You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don't follow these links, you've shown confidence in your material.

2. Show that there's a real organization behind your site.

Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site's credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your offices or listing a membership with the chamber of commerce.

3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.

Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Conversely, don't link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.

4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.

The first part of this guideline is to show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. For example, some sites post employee bios that tell about family or hobbies.

5. Make it easy to contact you.

A simple way to boost your site's credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address.

6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).

We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like The visual design should match the site's purpose.

7. Make your site easy to use -- and useful.

We're squeezing two guidelines into one here. Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company's ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.

8. Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).

People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.

9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).

If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don't mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.

10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.

Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site's credibility more than most people imagine. It's also important to keep your site up and running.

. - Need your help .. let's build this one together. Please share your One Secret on how you build trusted digital relationships using social media. I've set a brief survey in Survey Monkey to collect responses. I'll let it run for about a week .. analyze the responses and post to Diva Marketing. Click Here to take survey


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Great post here, Toby. To this list I would add: "Be a champion of your industry." It's a phrase I first heard from Mitch Joel, president of the Montreal-based digital marketing agency Twist Image.

So whether you're in the business of digital marketing or digital education, make sure your enthusiasm for that industry shines through in your blog posts. That can also mean writing about and linking to the work of the competition, especially if what they're doing is newsworthy. Don't be shy about linking out often! In the end, readers will be thankful that your posts serve as an informative and helpful resources, and they'll reward you by returning to your blog again and again.

Bryan Person | @BryanPerson

Posted by: Bryan Person on Dec 1, 2008 8:11:56 AM

I would have to say "Beware of the tone of your site" I have noticed that now business are trying to reach a new demographic through social media and new sites with imagery and themes that do not match the parent site. Consistency = Credibility.

I love this post, this is exactly why your blog is a teaching blog!

Posted by: Mei-Li on Dec 1, 2008 2:46:53 PM

I agree with Mei-Li Toby!

Your blog is great & a fabulous teaching tool!

Secondly, brand integrity & consistency is HUGE.

Look & feel/tone & texture of a site can make or break its credibility.

It's all in the details!:-)


Posted by: Luckie Daniels on Dec 2, 2008 12:41:05 PM

@Luckie - great point. online all we have to go by are the details!
@Mei-Li - funny how, especially with blogs, consistent branding from especially the look and feel from the 'parent' site are often neglected.
@Bryon - never thought of it in terms of being a champion of your/for your industry. makes a lot of sense to me.

Posted by: Toby on Dec 2, 2008 5:32:08 PM

Thanks for the mention, Toby. I look forward to seeing what you folks have cooking for tomorrow's event :)

Posted by: TDavid on Dec 4, 2008 5:17:50 PM

Great list. And if you have an element of SEM in your site then regular update (point 8) also helps in search results (search engines like sites that are updated regularly).

Posted by: Eamon on Dec 8, 2008 12:18:02 PM

This is a terrific site. Full of useful ideas and tips. Keep it up!

Posted by: Doel on Mar 22, 2009 6:34:53 PM

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