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Everything on the Internet is accurate. No doubt: Accurate stories all around.
As brands (people, organizations, businesses, etc.) are trying to connect online by sharing accurate stories, inaccuracies won’t help. They’ll hurt. And while content moves quickly today and people might forget one inaccurate statement, it’s usually harder and takes longer to (re)build credibility once that has happened.
Accurate stories: How do we know?
How do you know what’s accurate and make sure you are sharing accurate stories? There are several ways.
You conducted the research through credible sources and didn’t fidget with the facts. You are reporting what you found through research. How do you know the sources are credible? Same concept. They’ve built up credibility over time. Think of libraries, for example.
It’s your first-person experience (and, again, you are sharing it honestly). Think of parent bloggers and others who are sharing their personal stories online. They are often believable.
Straight-up opinion. You see something that relates to your blogging or content niche and offer an opinion. For example, I was traveling to the New Media Expo in Las Vegas in early 2014. My flight into Chicago O’Hare International Airport arrived at Gate C27. My outbound flight to Las Vegas left from C29. That’s worth sharing right there but doesn’t have anything to do with authentic storytelling, though could fit on a traveler blog perhaps. At the Vegas gate the agent came on the intercom and said: “It’s now 7:16 and we will start boarding at 7:29.” I could offer as an opinion on this being an example of how sharing relevant information in a timely manner is helpful, appreciated and builds connections. I thought this was very helpful to know what to expect and more importantly – when. She could have just stood there and let us know when it’s time to board at that time.
Your opinion based on research
Some opinions can’t really be formed and are not accurate stories without research. You may not need to call a focus group but some topics are really hard to comment on without that additional research. For example, let’s say you think a particular intersection is particularly dangerous. Thinking, in this type of case, doesn’t constitute knowing. Your opinion that an intersection is dangerous might go better into the first person content strategy category: Share a story of how exactly was dangerous for you. An opinion piece could still be published after some research has been done on which intersections in the area are dangerous. This information is most likely available through a public records request.
Sharing accurate stories: Words matter
Writing in your unique voice can help you differentiate yourself. Sharing authentic stories that don’t constantly sell is another. A third includes the words we choose. Some things to consider:
Questions can cause audience members to tune out. Let’s say you ask: “Have you had issues with intersection ABC?” If the answer is no, the post’s relevancy can go way down for that reader. Use words that show and don’t tell. For example: “This product was able to not break under the weight of five men – 1,100 pounds. There are no worries that it’ll break if your baby sits on it.” over “This is the most durable and best product for babies.”
Don’t guess. If you don’t know for sure, don’t guess.
Sharing accurate stories
Building a credible multi-channel content strategy that shares accurate stories all the time across different channels can take time. But once it’s established it can be beneficial for content producers as well as readers. We can all learn, grow and connect together through the sharing of accurate stories.
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