What Makes a Source Credible and Trustworthy?

Last month, we wrote about the difficulties of marketing in a trustless environment—in a time when trust in traditional advertising is declining, how do marketers build trust and credibility? The obvious answer is through credible and trustworthy sources of information, but what makes a source credible and trustworthy?

We’ve found that there are three characteristics that make a source credible and trustworthy. First, they must be knowledgeable on diet and nutrition. Second, they should have interests that are aligned with the consumer—promoting a healthy lifestyle. Finally, this trusted and credible source must be able to provide relevant, actionable advice.

Knowledge and Expertise

Knowledge and expertise are arguably the two most important factors in determining the credibility of a source. Consumers are constantly looking for answers to complicated health & wellness questions—and often these answers vary depending on the person. A quick Google search seeking a solution to nutrition advice can yield “answers” from scores of so-called “experts.” But who are these people? Do they have a nutritional background? Do they know the consumer and their dietary needs? The internet is cluttered with so-called “experts,” making it extremely difficult to understand whose opinions matter, and what advice to act on.

With the media creating this clutter, where can consumers turn for dietary advice? Their hand-picked health professional. Why? This professional has gone through the extensive education required to obtain a degree and are counseling people everyday! The same cannot be said about the blogger or journalist, whose interests are not always in line with consumers’.

Interests That Align With the Consumer

The evolution of internet marketing has led to an enormous number of conflicting voices in the health & wellness conversation. For bloggers and journalists, it is in their interest to promote products or headlines that will attract attention, drive clicks, and increase advertising revenue. Based on their incentive to create traffic, their credibility should immediately be questioned. Are they truly interested in improving consumers’ health, or in gaining clicks?

The main objective of everyday health influencers is exceptionally clear: to help the people they counsel adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These professionals want to share information and findings that are relevant to the people they counsel. Further, and most importantly for marketers, they want to share relevant better-for-you products, because that can lead to change.

Context and Action

How valuable is health advice if it’s not applicable and actionable? Creating relevant and actionable advice is a huge hurdle for online sources. Often times, a problem is highlighted, an argument is made and supported, and the article ends. The reader is left with no actionable advice. Further, that health & wellness monologue might not even apply to them!

Personal healthcare professionals have an advantage that other sources don’t. They have the benefit of a two-way conversation. They can assess the dietary needs, restrictions, or preferences of their patient. These health professionals can then, in turn, make a personal and actionable recommendation.

For marketers of healthy brands, it’s not just about what you say. It’s about how you say it and who delivers that message. In part 3 of our Trust blog series, we’ll examine how to tap into the influence of these trusted sources—how to best leverage influencers to reach consumers in an impactful way.