Why Your Content is Your Currency in the Trust Economy

When most of us hear the word “currency” we naturally just think about money. After all, money makes the world go ‘round, right? Well, not necessarily. Don’t get me wrong, money is very important and necessary, but it’s not the only thing that defines success anymore. For humans and businesses alike, we are becoming less defined by money and status, and more by what unique qualities set us apart and provide the most value to those around us.

We’ve recently entered an era of what’s being called the “trust economy” (also known as the “shared economy”) where the sharing of knowledge and information can buy more trust and value than an actual financial transaction can. According to TechCrunch, “trust is quickly becoming the global — and most-valued — currency of modern time.” For businesses, this means that your currency must be more than just transactional, it has to be meaningful.

When thinking about marketing in this new economy, it’s becoming more and more clear that the most important currency for businesses right now is quality content. Thoughtful, intelligent, engaging, and interactive content is worth its weight in gold for your brand if executed well. This is especially true for enterprise content marketers, which we often work closely with on their content strategies. Enterprise content marketers have unique challenges, like scaling, integration, globalization, content governance, and communication across the organization. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 22% of enterprise marketers said their organizations are effective at content marketing last year, down from 28% the previous year. Great content must be a priority if your want your enterprise to succeed in the trust economy. Here are a few reasons why:

 It builds credibility.

Sharing content helps us connect with each other, which helps us to engage with each other. By engaging, we are building relationships, which in turn builds trust. If you’ve been paying attention to the shifts in buying habits lately, you know that trust = money in the bank because if people trust you, they will hold you to a higher standard and spread the word about your product or service to their network.

For example, say a company you follow posts about an issue or pain point you’ve been grappling with. Seeing that post demonstrates to you that they “get it”, and that in turn, they get YOU. Moving forward you’re far more likely to trust content from that organization, even if it’s unrelated to your personal experience. Understanding your audience on that deeper level positions you as an influencer in your market and more people are willing to try your product or service.

It shows that you care.

It takes a lot of time and effort to put together a thoughtful blog post, a creative video, an interactive quiz, or a robust case study. By taking the time to create these assets, it shows that you care about your audience and that you want to help add value to their lives. A great example of this was when tech enterprise giant SAP ran their “Future of Food” campaign, a content marketing effort launched last year. The goal was to create captivating stories about the future of the food industry and how technology will play a part in making us all healthier. It was complete with blogs, videos, and online forums to open up topic for conversation. That extra touch creates value for your audience that they’ll hopefully want to share with everyone they know.

On the flip side of this coin, if you put a piece of content out there that is sloppily pieced together or has no real value to your target audience, no one will take you seriously and you’ll end up losing them (check out these content fails that did just that).

It creates conversations.

Technology has allowed us to be able to question, criticize, agree with, and rally around topics and issues with more immediacy than ever before (just think about your Facebook feed during election season) and content creation can help foster those conversations. It opens a dialogue on a platform that your audience can easily access and share their feelings about. At our core, humans are social animals and we still need something to spark connections and let us feel like we have a voice.

It separates the real from the fake.

We are also living in the era of “Fake News,” aka the rush to be the first to put out information that isn’t totally factual just to beat out everyone else. Because of this, consumers of online content are savvier than ever about calling out BS. If your content is fact-based, well-curated, and well-written, you set yourself apart as a credible source, which further builds trust.

It humanizes your brand.

Everyone does their research about companies before deciding to buy from them or use their services, so it’s helpful to give them an inside look into the humans behind the business. Content that shows the faces and voices behind the company connects with people on a very human level. My favorite example of this personally is the Wendy’s Twitter account, which gained attention for its epically funny responses to their customers.

These are just a few of the reasons that content = currency for enterprise companies in this new economy. Using your expertise and that of your colleagues to create meaningful content will put you out on top. Trust is everything, and if you have it, you’re doing something right! I’d love to hear whether you agree or disagree. Let’s continue the conversation.

“Content is the currency of the social web and sharing that content is the catalyst to new relationships and business benefits.” – Mark Schaefer, author and content strategist

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