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How to Build Credibility

Posted By Darren Rowse 12th of July 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

How do you rate when it comes to credibility? But more importantly, how do you go about getting credibility if you don’t have any or not much of it? Important question for bloggers – Andrew Rondeau from We Build Your Blog shares some tips on building credibility as a blogger.

There are some interesting theories around this topic. One such exponent of a theory is Graham Jones who writes about the credibility pyramid.

pyramid.gif

This pyramid is made up of four key elements.

1. Knowledge (10%) – At the bottom of the pyramid is a band of knowledge. Although this only represents 10% of a credibility score, it is nevertheless the foundation. If you don’t know what you are talking about, you have no credibility no matter what else you might bring to the mix.

Focus (15%) – The next level up according to Mr Jones is focus which constitutes 15% of the total score. Focus describes the process wherein people do not deviate or go off at tangents. This is when we come across people who seem to be single minded in their opinions, approach and knowledge.

This does not mean that you need to bombard other people with huge amounts of details and information in order to be considered credible. It is more the clarity and enthusiasm as well as the consistency of the information that is being presented that allows people to assess the credibility factor.

In some instances it is even possible that providing far too much information can undermine the credibility score. Perhaps this is where the popularity of the ‘elevator speech’ comes into play. You have two minutes to present your information. You have to be focused and only provide the most important points.

3. Enthusiasm (25%) – The next component on this pyramid of credibility is enthusiasm. This has an allocation of 25% which is fairly high. We probably call this passion more often than not. We view enthusiastic people as being far more credible than those who are not.

Perhaps it is because we feel that if the person can’t be enthusiastic about their own topic then he can’t be believing in his own words. Of course this can be unfair. There are some people who are too shy to speak up never mind appear enthusiastic.

4. Care and Concern (50%) – Possibly the most surprising component of credibility is the top part of this pyramid. It shows that 50% of your credibility is associated with your care and concern. If you show that you care about your audience you will be able to gather up half of the score towards a strong credibility rating.

This means that when building up your online credibility you have to show a huge amount of caring and concern for the interests and well-being of your audience. No matter what you are trying to do online, whether build a blog, communicate with readers, sell a product or even just hold a conversation on a social media platform such as Twitter or Facebook, if you care for your audience you build credibility.

It seems that a small percentage of your credibility is knowledge, add to that focus and enthusiasm and you only have half of what makes up your credibility. The other half is all about caring and concern for the other person’s well-being.

That could almost sound right.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Andrew, interesting points from Graham Jones. I think that this credibility model is broken down to its simplest form and is something that comes naturally. You can’t fake knowledge, enthusiasm and care/concern.

  2. Although I do not disagree with the Care and Concern part, I think Knowledge will probably be more important than a mere 10% for knowledge-intensive topic. Problogger is credible because he knowledgeable about the latest technology related to blogging and social media.

    Another thing missing from this picture is Creativity. You could argue that it is lumped into Knowledge, but I think it should stand on its own. Creativity is important to get your message across in the right form, at the right time and to the right audience.

    I am afraid that this pyramid model gives a false impression to people that they can get away with little knowledge if they just project an image of “care and concern”.

  3. Building credibility can be difficult, however I propose that another huge factor in this process is the frequency of your posts. If you throw up a blog every single day, then you are increasing the probability of deviation from a particular topic (especially if your topic is unusually specific, which my blog tends to be).

  4. Excellent, cornerstone post Andrew. I like to see how the elements of credibility were quantified…

    I think that having concrete focus deserves more than 15%… establishing credibility requires to be extremely attentive to what you do and say. Branding is something hard, and long-term.

  5. Care and Concern, that’s absolutely right. I like this part the most.

  6. Thank you for the wonderful insight Andrew. What made this post even more interesting for me was after I re-looked at Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs (http://www.union.umd.edu/GH/basic_needs/index.html).

    Seeing the striking similarities between the top half of this pyramid and Maslow’s makes this post that much more credible (pardon the pun).

    Particularly, these basic human needs outlined in Maslow’s Heirachy:

    Esteem
    Needs
    Self-Esteem
    Recognition
    Status
    Social Needs
    Sense of Belonging
    Love

  7. Nice display. Focus, i.e. quality over quantity, is a must.

  8. Very well stated on 50%. Agree with you completely. Thanks for the post-sue

  9. Jai Maru says: 07/12/2009 at 1:38 am

    You have captured the very essence of building online credibility; Big message in simple terms. Great post!

  10. I have to agree with care and concern being up there as the most important aspect of building credibility. Every blogger that I trust and am loyal to cares about what I say on their blogs, they reply to my comments and emails and they are always happy to help with any problems.

    I also think being personal is an important factor, I need to feel like I know someone before I trust what they preach.

  11. I’m surprised care and concern are so important, but I’m glad it is. I always care about people too and readers started writing and asking me for advice or encouragement.

  12. Not sure what exactly compelled me to read this article, but I agree with it. I might add another element: consistency.

    It’s critical to fulfill promises you make and follow through, every single time. A parent who is inconsistent in teaching or being an example to a child will lose credibility and respect.

    An adult who is inconsistent in delivering what he or she says will lose credibility and appear like a hypocrite.

    Businesses that don’t deliver the same level of quality and experience to the customer consistently lose credibility as well, and customers.

  13. While I agree that care and concern are important, I have to disagree that they make up 50 percent of what makes you credible. I mean is 50 percent of the reason bloggers in the top 100 blogs credible because they show a lot of care and concern?

    I think I would bump up knowledge and focus each 10 percent and bump care and concern down 10 percent. I realize you were trying to make a point that bloggers need to show care and concern about their audience, but I think it was a bit overstated. Enjoyed the post though. Thanks!

  14. Excellent post very helpful points. We are starting a horror blog/magazine and found this very useful :)

  15. I think that in any thing you do (especially in business), you will need credibility. It is because people are risking to do business with you.

    Do all means to build your credibility, so that your path to success will be coming to light, as credibility is the foundation of your character.

  16. Thanks for showing us this Darren. It’s good to be reminded of all the core attributes required to remain credible in our life, work and online choices.

  17. It indeed sounds very good to me. i think the last point ‘cares and concern’ for audience is very important. and it can be shown through down-to-earth articles, which are based on experience.

  18. Salman says: 07/12/2009 at 2:14 am

    I like the enthusiasm topic and I am focused on it.

    Regards
    Salman
    http://www.tips4blogging.co.cc

  19. I would say that the care and concern is important. But you will not get it unless you have got the other 3 in place

  20. Huh interesting, personally I disagree somewhat with how much of your credibility stems from knowledge, but I really like where care and concern for your users sit. Anyway excellent post.

  21. It’s really surprising that only 10 percent of the credibility score is for knowledge.

    I’ve been writing about consumer issues since 1977 and have had training in consumer economics. It helps me sort through the vast amounts of materials to pick out items to help consumers.

    I also have a degree and experience as a journalist, which is extremely helpful in writing a blog.

    My blog is The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com.

    Rita

  22. I think you have it right but I think you could add being consistant because that is also very important.

    Thanks for the post.

  23. This is a nice article. Undoubtedly care and concern is & will always remain at the top be it any profession.

  24. @Philip. I think you can fake knowledge, enthusiasm and care/concern but only in the short-term. If you are a ‘faker’ you WILL be found out because you won’t be able to keep up the pretence.

    @Anthony. I think you could be right as long as your focus is on the care and concern

    @Issac. And I think care and concern is the easiest to do but so many of us get it wrong!

    @Ben. Isn’t it a shame so many think ‘quantity over quality’?

    @Lee. Love your point “also think being personal is an important factor, I need to feel like I know someone before I trust what they preach.” Perhaps that should come under care/concern?

    @Joshua. And being a blogger there is nowhere to hide, so you are right everything we do can be seen by others. But I do think different types of credibility attract some people. Some people will respond to the ‘in your face’ type others…a more laid back type. Any preferences?

    @Harris. Totally agree. Too many theory type articles (guilty myself of that one!).

    Andrew

  25. Very interesting and I’ve never really seen it put that way. I think that perhaps this may be almost 100% correct 100% of the time… of course there will always be exceptions. Always are but from a practical stand point this makes a lot of sense to me
    tracy

  26. As an aside the what I just wrote – I have wondered if popular blogs that used to comment and interact can or will lose some of their popularity IF they stop most or all of the interaction.. This kind of implies, yes.

  27. I liked the way you broke it down in percentages. Very inspiring post.

  28. That’s a great way to look at the credibility pyramid. I’m constantly thinking about ways to increase my credibility at my site and your article here makes it very clear what I need to be focusing on in order to accomplish that.

  29. Interesting post. I always knew caring about your audience was important, but I think to give it 50% might be too much. Perhaps the best point about this model is showing the priorities of bloggers, first being knowledge, then focus, then enthusiasm, then care and concern.

  30. This pyramid looks about right. The care and concern one has for both the topic and the people they look to help drives everything else. The most credible person isn’t necessarily the most knowledgeable, the most focused or the most enthusiastic. The person who cares the most is going to make sure you get helped *even if it’s not by them*.

    So if we’re talking about being CREDIBLE, not the smartest, not the nichiest, and not the most gung-ho, that pyramid is spot on.

  31. Very interesting, If i was asked this question I will answer by
    50% knowledge and 50% honesty and that shows you how wrong any one can be

  32. That’s a great post I must say. Once your blog has some recognition in the blogosphere, credibility is what separates you from the rest and gives your blog that push to go to the next level.

  33. I’ve enjoyed this article and find it very useful.

  34. Perfect distribution
    i think i lack 4th point
    i dont care properly about my blog, so it reflects with low hit counts daily
    thanks

  35. what a cool article, thanks to Darren, its really solve my problem
    Blogging, SEO and Money Making Tips by http://teratips.com

  36. Darren:

    There is an old maxim, “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” I think that pretty well sums up the fact that 50% of this pyramid is about care and concern. I would add that personal experience is outrageously important in terms of credibility. May be that is just a subset of knowledge, but I think worth noting. I find there is a radical and recognizable difference between people who are spouting second hand knowledge and folks speaking from their own personal experience.

    Perhaps, part of that difference is that there is something more powerful and persuasive about a story rather than just facts, figures, theories and principles. A person’s personal experience is much easy to relate to and connect with than a principle or idea. Credibility at some level comes down to connection.

    Along those lines I find the posts that seem to get the most response from people and that build the most trust are those posts where I share myself somehow within the post. If I can tell a story of something that I have struggled with and made progress on, people are moved to trust me.

    Lastly, one piece of this pyramid that seems lacking is credibility that is literally given to us. Word of mouth has classically been the best form of advertising. Frequently, our initial credibility is granted to us by the recommendations of others. We then either live up to that credibility or fail to meet it.

    Thanks for this post. It has given me pause to think about my own credibility. The bottom line we bloggers might ought to take from this is, “Do I care as much about my readers, as I do my blog?”

  37. There is an old maxim, “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” I think that pretty well sums up the fact that 50% of this pyramid is about care and concern. I would add that personal experience is outrageously important in terms of credibility. May be that is just a subset of knowledge, but I think worth noting. I find there is a radical and recognizable difference between people who are spouting second hand knowledge and folks speaking from their own personal experience.

    Perhaps, part of that difference is that there is something more powerful and persuasive about a story rather than just facts, figures, theories and principles. A person’s personal experience is much easy to relate to and connect with than a principle or idea. Credibility at some level comes down to connection.

    Along those lines I find the posts that seem to get the most response from people and that build the most trust are those posts where I share myself somehow within the post. If I can tell a story of something that I have struggled with and made progress on, people are moved to trust me.

    Lastly, one piece of this pyramid that seems lacking is credibility that is literally given to us. Word of mouth has classically been the best form of advertising. Frequently, our initial credibility is granted to us by the recommendations of others. We then either live up to that credibility or fail to meet it.

    Thanks for this post. It has given me pause to think about my own credibility. The bottom line we bloggers might ought to take from this is, “Do I care as much about my readers, as I do my blog?”

  38. Oops! sorry somehow I double posted.

  39. @Joseff ,To be frank I would have thought the same , but it is funny that in this post knowledge is given only 5 % and Concern is 50% which I think is must necessary .
    Do you email your old comment writer some times .. do it , that would show your concern too.

  40. Focus is trying to make an impact with as little information as possible. It’s like concentrating the power of your message and delivering it in bite-sized form.

  41. I like the 50/50 split, I love the technical side of blogging and continue to clarify the focus of my blogging existence. I am blogging to share my thoughts and experiences with others, hopefully helping them with the same issues I’ve been through already. And I think that’s the essence of blogging, helping others and being enthusiastic and passionate about it

  42. For me enthusiasm helps me relate to the blogger but isn’t relevant to authority.

  43. Thanks Darren for the article containing valuable tips.

    Knowledge is indeed the core of website content that attracts the attention of a visitor.

    By focusing on what you are talking about, you would specify the mentioned topic more and avoid diversification.

    People would get more interested in your knowledge specially if you show them your passion and view them enthusiasm.

    Finally, you need to communicate with your readership and show them you care about them. Get involved in the conversation, reply to the comments, answer their questions. These are only a few examples of caring and showing concern specially if you own a blog.

    But, like you said, this pyramid of credibility can be defined in any field of online business. Whether you sell your own products or other people’s, you need to gain people trust.

    High credit gives more trust, the only factor that turns a prospect into a customer. So, considering these points are really crucial for business owners in order to succeed online.

    Once again, thank you for providing such a wonderful post.

    All the Best!

    Hooshmand Moslemi

  44. Excellent points. You need every aspect of this pyramid in order to build credibility but it is also true that the fact that care should be emphasized the most since showing you care is the first step in getting people to care about the knowledge you are trying to share.

    Keep up the great work.

    -Nathaniel

  45. Excellent and relevant points.

    I am agree with you that you need every aspect of this pyramid in order to build credibility.

    However, I feel that how we present the knowledge and its application is equally important so as the readers may grasp it with full attention. This effectiveness of the content is highly relevant to credibility as far as I am concern.

    I do hope to hear other visitors’ point of views.

    Keep up with your great work.

  46. I have to stay conscious of information overload. I tend to dig deep sometimes when the audience doesn’t need or want the depth. I try to realize where my stopping point needs to be before the eyes glaze over.

  47. I have 1 more point to add, that is “Showing Results”.

  48. its kinda hard to focus when we have free internet access in our laptop …

  49. I’ve also found that showing statistics and results help a lot; people like to see what you’ve done with your talent in the past which reflects what you can do for them in the future. They also like to know what you’re capable of before they join your bandwagon!

    Thanks for sharing!

  50. I don’t know, I would say that your knowledge creates a lot of credibility. Care and concern is totally important, but knowledge is more important than anything. Like it’s said, it IS the foundation.

    I don’t care if a person cares about me or not..if he knows his stuff and I need to learn it, I will consider him an expert regardless of his personality.

    Focus is probably important as well.

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