Brand trust — in everything from e-commerce brands to brick and mortar stores to editorial brands — is gone. Consumers — that is people who buy, click, visit, read and share — are more skeptical than ever. This is a problem ALL brands, businesses and individuals who share content on the many digital platforms face — and yet, it seems like we’re doing nothing to combat it. There are many, many things that can be done but the most important thing YOU can do? Be transparent with your audience every step of the way.

Editorial brands like The New York Times have spent decades refining their reputation. Television news brands, like CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. have done the same. And now? Now we have a generation of consumers — in all age groups and all phases of life — who are skeptical of everything they see, read, share and hear.

Where does that leave us?

These digital tools — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more — are platforms meant to bring communities together. Like the meeting houses, bonfires and great halls, these platforms have become a place to buy, trade, sell and share.

And as trust in the information presented decreases?

Well, it stands that trust in brands trying to sell in the same arena would also decrease.

And you don’t have to take my word for it — Buzz Sumo recently analyzed over 880 million (yes, with an m) Facebook posts from brands and publishers and engagement is down by 20% — regardless of spending which, for many of these individual entities, increased dramatically over the same period.

As an individual, you may have noticed a downward trend too — and that makes sense because as the algorithm struggles to learn new ways of verifying real vs fake content, individuals and business pages, it puts a clamp on all information.

Organic reach still exists — if you have the right content strategy in place, you should be able to see an increase in reach with a few well-placed tweaks — but it is not the same as it was.

So what are online entrepreneurs to do?

Transparency is your friend

Sharing your success stories, case studies and launch stories is bread and butter of digital brand marketing when it comes to online personalities. The true key here? Is to break it down! Tell your audience how much you spent on Facebook ads, how much you spent with affiliates, where you placed your content and how much time you spent training your audience to be primed for purchase. Share your missteps (because nothing is truly a failure) as lessons learned to move forward.

Be the expert, own your space

Experts are a dime a dozen — but YOU have a unique spin for YOUR zones of genius and excellence. YOU get to decide what content you share and how your audience consumes it. And you get to shine in the darkness of unreliable content (otherwise known as fake news) by providing statistics, data and verified sources. You are a content creator 5% (or less) of the time and a content curator 95% of the time — curate wisely.

Own your missteps — see them as an opportunity

The New York Times prints corrections… every, single news organization in the world prints corrections. Humans are not infallible — we are HUMANS. It’s called Human Error for a reason and the best way to combat the problem of unreliable content on today’s oversaturated content platforms? Think like an editorial team — decide how, when and where you’ll acknowledge your corrections and make it public. Make sure that you’re owning these answers consistently in your messaging. Using a response grid (like the one I offer for free, here) is a great way to stay on top of this day-to-day and across a distributed team.

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