Social media and digital technology in general have made it possible to spread information around more efficiently. In the past, people waited for the newspaper to be delivered to their doorstep to find out what’s happening all over the world. They wait for the evening news. And if anything is urgent enough, there are a few emergency news breaks mid-day.
Today, however, there’s no room for waiting. You get the news flash the moment it happens. No need to run to the door to get the morning paper. No need to turn the TV on. All you need to do is pull out your smartphone, and voila! You have every single thing that’s happening all around the globe, from the unrest brewing in a distant country, to what Prince Harry had for breakfast.
But this also poses such a huge risk. Knowing that it’s so easy for people to put content out there also means that news are not being controlled as much as needed. And this has resulted into fake news being easily spread around.
Since your content strategy probably involves curating content that’s already online, how do you make sure you choose nothing less than authentic news? How do you maintain content integrity and credibility?
The Accuracy Checklist
Content Marketing Institute released an “accuracy checklist” that helps any content marketer maintain credibility. Every single piece of statistic you publish, every quote you use, every piece of news you mention will affect the way people look at you. And no matter how small a part this false piece of information may be, it can easily shatter your audiences’ trust.
Here’s what your accuracy checklist should look like:
Names and Titles
Are the names spelled right? Did you get the name of the institution right? Did you get the job titles right?
Dates and Times
Are your time, dates and days correct? Did you double check the calendar to see if those days really match the days you mentioned?
Are the cities, states, countries, and other places mentioned spelled correctly? Did you correctly match capital with the right countries, and cities with the right regions?
Emails and Phone Numbers
Are the email addresses spelled correctly? Is the right domain extension being used? Are phone numbers accurate? Did you send a test email to confirm that nothing bounces back? Did you try calling the phone number to see if it’s working?
Statistics and Other Sources
Are your numbers accurate? Are these numbers backed by solid research and data? Does the math match? Are your sources credible?
When you say “the best” or “top”, is this backed by solid proof?
Are all quotes in their proper context? Is the person you’re talking to the primary source of the information or quote, or were they quoting someone else?
Definitions of Terms
Are all words appropriately used? Did you double check the meanings of industry-specific jargon?
Positions and Statements
Are you generalizing? Are you stating personal opinion, and are you clearly stating this fact? Do you have any biases? Did you provide evidence of any position you are pushing for?
With an accuracy checklist like this, you can make sure you keep your credibility intact in the midst of all the unreliable sources floating around.
Keeping Your Credibility Intact
So we’ve established that you need to live by an accuracy checklist to keep everything trustworthy. Aside from that, these other tips can help you keep your credibility intact:
Use a straightforward, accurate headline.
Now, as a marketer, you probably know how important titles and headlines are. The success of your content may well be relying on this single thing. The sad thing about it though, is that people have begun using their headlines simply as click baits, sometimes sacrificing the integrity of the actual content. Ever fell victim into clicking a title that’s amazingly interesting, only to find out that the content does not even remotely deliver what was promised?
Don’t be the jerk who does this. Make sure your headlines are straightforward and interesting, but are also accurate and show what your content really is about.
Give clear attribution.
You wrote your content, and that’s brilliant. But for sure, some of the things you mentioned did not come from your brain alone. And when this happens, you need to give clear attribution.
Tell people what you think, but tell them when your insights come from somebody else, too. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make you any less authoritative. Even the most brilliant people in the world were inspired by someone else. Give proper attribute and you will be seen as a great influencer with great respect for other people’s work and ideas. Fail to do so, and you’re nothing but a know-it-all who doesn’t know how to give the right people due credit.
Be comfortable in your own voice.
Guess what. No matter how hard you try to pretend to be someone else or imitate someone else, your own voice and your genuine tone will slip out somehow. And to tell you the truth, nothing makes you more credible than embracing who you really are and being comfortable with it.
Just because you see a trendsetter or an influencer doesn’t mean you’ll try to be like them. Their style works because it’s theirs.
Every marketer and content creator should know that once you’re labelled as someone who is not credible, it’s impossible to erase that reputation. So in the middle of all the fake news, be that hero who’ll still choose the absolute truth, no matter how overrated other people may think it to be.