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On November 10, 2014, I was the guest on #socialchat on Twitter and we discussed how to know if content is credible online and how to be seen as credible. Here are some of the questions that we discussed:
How do we know content shared is credible?
Credibility is established over time. Often traditional media outlets are seen as credible and that’s usually the case because they have established that credibility and trust over time. On the flip side, not everyone would say certain outlets are credible.
Credibility is established over time by continuously sharing content that is credible and also is perceived as credible.
I like to mention NFL reporter Adam Schefter, who breaks many stories. In my mind, he’s totally credible, even in some cases when others dispute his information.
Sometimes, people new to one’s network are credible from the start with their information. That can be the case when they share personal stories, soundbites or information that appears to be correct and credible.
How to decide what credible content to share?
I share content by others when I think it’s relevant to people following me and when it appears to likely be credible and correct. For example, if I’ve seen something on TV already and now somebody is voicing their personal experience with something related to this topic, it’s probably OK to share. As long as it’s relevant to your audience.
How to build credibility online?
Decide what topics you are going to talk about. Pick your passions and areas of expertise. We can’t all be experts at every single topic. Talk about your areas. Blog once a week. Participate on Twitter, in Twitter chats, connect with others who care about the same topic. Some people talk about influencer marketing but I believe that just about everyone is an influencer to somebody else – even when we can’t measure that influence on social media.
What if you publish something that wasn’t correct?
Fess up and fix it. Explain what happened. When in doubt, don’t share other people’s content.
If it’s libelous, delete it, but still explain publicly what happened. Quickly.
But not everything that wasn’t perfect needs to be deleted. For example, when the Dallas Cowboys flew to London in 2014 for a game they picked the hashtag #CowsboysUK for Cowboys United Kingdom. People on Twitter quickly read it as #CowboySUK. One Eagles fan Tweeted: “As an Eagles fan I couldn’t agree more.” Other similar Tweets folllowed.
Needless to say the Cowboys could have picked a better hashtag and immediately stopped using it. They didn’t delete the Tweets that had already been sent. There was no need to. People had already seen them and were already talking about them.
Sharing other people’s content is a great way to spread messages and stories. I only do it if I reasonably expect the information to be accurate. I also prefer to share content that is interesting, maybe entertaining and unique.
In addition, we can spend a lifetime building up our credibility and lose it in one moment of spreading incorrect information.
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