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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: brand

Can half a second on your website determine the trust of your brand?

judge your website in 50 milliseconds

Image courtesy of stockmonkeys.com

Our guts are pretty good indicators of trust. In fact, humans are hardwired to read a situation and come up with an impression in just 50 milliseconds. We get this “fight or flight” ability from our ancestors.

While not everything is a death threat, we use this ability without much thought to it.

So let’s talk about this “fight or flight” in reference to the internet.

When we are looking for a specific answer to a question, most of us trust Google (about 65% of searches start there) to deliver a website that will have the answer.

We scan the results quickly and decide to click on usually the first couple of links essentially our first impression.

Everything on the page (design, user interface, then content) will determine whether we believe what they say is true or we’ll bounce back to the results and click another link.

How you can adjust your website and online image to maximize your potential trust with a user was a SXSW workshop by psychologist and technologist, Vanessa Van Edwards.

Her workshop was called “Digital Body Language” and here’s what the description was:

digital-body-language

By the end of this blog post, you’ll know why this image looks this way.

“You have 0.05 seconds to make a good first impression online. In those 50 milliseconds you have to hook someone and convey your brand messaging, encourage clicks and build trust. Most important, this happens before a user reads any of your content, headlines or descriptions. You have to capture their attention with your website’s nonverbal cues or your digital body language.

Whether you run a business, work for a corporate brand or just want to better understand online human psychology this workshop is for you.

As a human behavior hacker, I’m going to show participants how to use the latest groundbreaking research to optimize advertisements, websites, social media profiles, online videos, print materials and emails. We will cover a wide array of online human behavior science such as:

*Using eye patterns to know how a user consumes your content.
*Using images congruent with your branding.
*The science of color psychology on customers and readers, and applying it to your brand’s online presence. Simple changes to your website like colors, text on buttons, people images, etc… can have a dramatic impact on its ability to convert customers and leave the best impression – in only 50 milliseconds.”

Her goals for the workshop were pretty simple.

  1. Be aware of what’s influencing YOU
  2. Take control of your cues.
  3. Supercharge your non-verbal branding.

Here are my notes from the class.

Vanessa Van Edwards has based her career on science-based application of 2400+ human behavior studies.

When people first meet you, they are sizing you up with many determining factors much like they do online digital presence.

These non-verbal cues are 12-13 times more powerful than the accompanying content.

So in other words, if you have all these awesome accomplishments on your LinkedIn profile but you have a bad head shot – the head shot will be more effective at trashing your reputation. I’ll give you points from her class on how to improve your head shots down below.

You must make sure your first impression does everything to build your trust indicators, your personal brand values, your credibility and your memorability so people will feel confident in making a decision in selecting you and your company.

Now what makes up your digital impression?

First, you do a Google search.

When people type in your name, what comes up?

Remember to logout of Google or use a different computer than what you normally use because search engines hold on to results so the results will be based on your history not what’s currently available.

Now what pops up?

Your websites, your images, your videos, etc…

don-schindler-google-search

Search changes all the time.

All of these should leave a good impression of you – we’ll discuss more of how these images will look below.

Let’s dig into the links.

If your first link is your company website, there might be little you can do to control the environment that surrounds your head shot and biography.

But maybe you can. You can send this link to your website designer and they can make sure they have incorporated some of these tactics on your website.

When it comes to a digital presence of your company, the first impression is made by your website. On it, users will find your logo, the colors and fonts, photos and/or video, user interface like search box and navigation.

This is what users expect and if things are missing or in unusual places, this will question the credibility of your website – even before they read a bit of content.

So how do you know if your website is trusted?

There are several different ways to measure the effectiveness of your website and I recommend that you have goals set up in your Google Analytics to do this.

But if you don’t have them set up, you can go into your analytics and check out if users are clicking on the right links, if the Bounce Rate is too high (I like to stay lower than 50%) and Time on Page is to low (more than 2:30 minutes would be great).

Users should be clicking on your Call-to-Action – if you don’t have one then I honestly don’t know why you have a website. Most Call-To-Actions I set up are Buy Buttons or Sign-Up for Email buttons. Goals are based on the Thank You Purchase Page or the Thank You for Signing Up Page.

There are also some tools like trymyUI.com that can help you get feedback on what people think of your website.

And don’t get me wrong – text on the page is very, very important but it’s usually what people look at last after they quickly scanned the page for signs of trust like testimonials or third party logos.

Make sure the text you have is positive as this can lead to prime people to believe what they see on your page – negativity breeds mistrust of others but will affect your brand.

Now once they’ve decided to look over the page, what are some important elements that people will focus on?

People’s faces.

Yep, our brains are wired to look for the human face and then the patterns on the face (even when you physically can’t recall seeing the face you will have an impression about it).

Once we have recognized a face, we will quickly analyze their expression to see if they are friend or foe. And since we all study human faces all the time, we can easily pick out what they are feeling. In fact, there are a few expressions that are involuntary that we pick up right away and they can help or hurt your website’s credibility.

Vanessa went over three common expressions that influence trust and they are:

  • Contempt – a smirk or raised angle smile will cause mistrust.
  • Happiness – an honest smile will have crows feet in the eyes. Fake smiles don’t and can help just as much as contempt.
  • Fear – if the user sees the upper whites of eyes (even if the face is smiling, it will seemed forced).

contempt-twitter

Check out the pictures on your website of people. Get rid of the fake stock photos and put in some genuine happy faces.

Next is the gaze.

Vanessa wanted us to know that there are particular ways that people look at other people as well as looking at websites so there are multiple ways you need to take gaze into account.

First is how people look at your website.

They use an F-pattern as first discovered by Jakob Nielsen in 2006 and it still works today.

People scan the site, looking for normal patterns.

Logo, navigation, search box, social then down the page to images and content, then they quickly scroll down the page.

Your crucial information should be placed within this pattern to make sure it is found. Many times I see Call-To-Action buttons or boxes at the very bottom of the page or in an unusual spot. It’s ok to be unusual if you are going to draw attention to the button with color or an image.

But there’s another gaze that we pay attention to.

The gaze of the people on the website.

You can direct people to different places on the website by simply aiming the gaze of the person on the page. People will automatically look in the direction of the person on the page – make sure your call to action is in that gaze.

Another great way to make a good digital impression is to have video on the page or within your search results.

Video is powerful communication vehicle and people tend to watch videos more than anything else online (notice the growing popularity of Facebook videos and YouTube).

But to have a good video that can earn you trust, you must pay attention to the psychological best practices.

Van Edwards just released a great study on the best and worst TED talks. They analyzed over thousands of hours of TED talks to find out the commonalities of these speakers and have come up with some remarkable studies.

Going back to our gut reaction, we decide within the first seven seconds whether we trust the subject of the video. Seven seconds.

If you don’t get them to trust you in the first seven seconds, you won’t get them to trust you the entire talk.

So what are the best practices of the best TED talks?

  • Hands – the study found that the use of your hands in a presentation determined success and trust. 465 > 272 best to worst. If you talk with your hands in videos, then keep doing it. If you don’t, you need to start using them. Things to do with your hands are pointing out growth, counting numbers (1, 2, 3) and personal passion (touch your heart).
  • Vocal Variety – You have to change your tone. Let it flow with your emotion and definitely change your cadence to keep the audience engaged. They never know where you are going next.
  • Smile – Add jokes, tell stories you can smile at even if the topic is serious and use that smile. The best speakers smiled 36.25 sec vs. 9.15 sec of the worst ones.

From her blog post – you can also add Enthusiasm (people liked speakers even with the sound off – so gestures and constant movement), and not using scripts (makes people too stiff and like they don’t know what they are talking about – politicians should take note).

Next let’s talk color.

Now if you are like me, you might have picked the color of your logo or your website based on your favorite colors. But remember you are trying to make an impression on someone so colors and font choices mean a great deal to the user – not just what you like.

Research reveals people base between 62-90% of their assessment on color alone.

So what do certain colors mean to the user?

  • Blue – loyalty, stability, tranquil
  • Red – passion, aggression, sex, metabolism
  • yellow – happy, optimism, youth
  • green – healing, success, hope
  • Black – power, mystery, professional
  • Purple – royalty, spirit, luxury
  • Brown – stable, natural, reliability
  • Orange – energy, fun, warmth
  • White – purity, cleanliness, innocence
  • Gray – neutral, practical, quiet

twitter-color-wheel

What you need to do is limit or eliminate off brand colors, confusing color cues, or purposeless colors. Everything is intentional whether you mean to do it or not.

Wow, are we ever going to get to the content on the page. Yep, now we are.

When it comes to the content, people are going to be looking for authenticity cues. That you are who you say you are.

Now how do you do this?

Authenticity comes from personal stories embedded within your profession information. The “WHY” you do what you do is just as important as they stuff you do. It needs to match up.

But you need to make sure you are eliminating grammar errors (tough for me), spelling errors (even worse) and anything vague that could be a lie so be specific.

You can add social proof to build trust with testimonials, reviews and certifications as well as recognized logos.

Then she spoke about confidence cues.

She said that when we meet someone new we are always sizing them up.

It’s our Alpha thought – are they awesome or am I?

Power body language (body position) has a halo effect – use more space and you will effect more than just you.

If you want people to think you have more confidence then use your body language in ways that are expansive. You are staking claim over territory, keep your head high, arms wide, shoulders back, chest open. The more space you use, the higher people perceive your confidence.

People perceive low confidence as your body is contracted, less space, the more your head is down or bowed and shoulders rolled. Hey, do you know what we look like when we are looking at our phones. You got it – low confidence.

Again, how do we take this to your website and your online presence?

Let’s talk about your head shots – a good headshot according to Vanessa was one that is viewed from below, aim your torso and toes toward the person and eyes gazing at the camera – you will look more trustworthy, open-minded and sympathetic.

If you need to look helpless and get sympathy, be viewed from above and don’t meet the gaze of the camera.

She did a great job in explaining how cereal boxes do this to kids (and adults) with their branding and mascots.

twitter screen shot

Finally, Vanessa spoke about capturing attention.

She spoke about a spectrum of attraction that users are on when they visit your website or online presence.

When you have too much or too little, you can really hamper people from making decisions.

Sounds and animations (like gifs and auto start videos) can grab attention, but too much and they annoy or distract people from the surrounding content.

Too few or too many choices will also cause a user to pause when making a decision.

There’s always an issue with dropping too many links in an article. You have to find the right balance so you should always be testing.

They did find out what kind of things and buttons people like clicking on. Start Here, Entry Level Products, Freeiums, etc…

We started to run out of time toward the end but I’m telling you it was one of the better workshops I attended at SXSW and I was very impressed with amount of information.

How do you create and build a personal brand?

First, what is a personal brand?

Most people think of celebrities as the only people who have personal brands but the truth is that everyone has them.

It’s just that celebrities usually get paid a ton of money and have the access to endorsement platforms. We (the audience) can’t help but notice their personal brand because a company is advertising it to get their product more exposure.

But here I’m just talking about you and the personal/professional brand that you project to others. If you need a definition of personal brand, I really like this one.

A brand is a person’s perceptions of their experiences with you.

If people think you are a good listener and then you do what you say you are going to do for them, they will form a good opinion of your personal brand. If you do the opposite, then you know what happens.

I also love what Glenn Llopis says about branding in this article on Forbes, “Your personal brand should represent at the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.”

Consistently is the keyword there. Trust of your brand is built up over time but it can be destroyed pretty quickly if you veer off the consistent path of your brand perception.

In this day and age of hyper connectivity and massive information overload, your personal brand can help raise your profile and get people to notice who you are quickly.

if-I-had-nickel

This is how most people feel all the time.

 

In Harvey Coleman’s book, “Empowering Yourself, The Organizational Game Revealed” he talks about the PIE chart – Performance, Image and Exposure.

PIE-chart

How performance, image and exposure have changed from the past to now

Performance means your day-to-day work and results.

Image means what other people think of you and your work.

Exposure means who knows who you are and what you do.

Mr. Coleman maintains that what we are told is that our performance means everything to your career – if you do the work, keep your head down and just work a little on your image, you’ll be fine.

That may have worked in the theory but it’s not how it works now.

While your performance means the world to your brand, you have to put significant thought into your image and work on getting exposure. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

PERFORMANCE: Can you say that you know what you are doing and you can answer questions about it?

If you can’t answer this yourself, you really need to stop and question what it is that you do. This should not be confusing or vague to you because your entire brand will be built on this. It can change over time or position, but it is the essence of your brand.

IMAGE: Do you feel like others trust you with what you say you do? People have very acute sense of BS detectors when you talk about what you do.

You should have an acute sense of how they are reacting to you when you talk about what you do.

EXPOSURE: Do others come to you instinctively when they need something related to your field?

This should not be defined by your title. And don’t blame others if they aren’t coming to you, it’s your fault if they don’t know what you do. I hear that quite a bit that people should know – no, they shouldn’t just know – they should be exposed to what you do.

More importantly, do you feel that management knows what you do, is excited about what you do and would come to you if they needed help?

This can make or break your brand. If your boss and your boss’s boss don’t come to you, there’s a serious issue there.

When it comes to budget cuts, you’ll have a lot more issues defending your budget if they don’t easily understand what you do. This is branding.

 

How to build a brand

1. You need to define who you are professionally.

Every brand is a story. What’s your story? Here’s how you create your story.

What are you known for? What do you want people to think when they think of you?

Write a brand statement for yourself. Here’s a template I use.

To (target audience), (your name) is the (blank) provider/service of (blank) delivered through (blank).

Here’s mine…

To the dairy industry, Don Schindler is a thought leader for creative integrated marketing and communications solutions delivered by digital communications and educational training.

Here it is reduced to 140 characters: @donschindler is a creative marketing professional who teaches you how to use social media and digital communication tools.

2. You need to create your elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is how you would describe what you do to someone who has an issue that you can solve. You can provide them with a solution – you should always approach knowing you have a solution to their problem.

For me, my idea clients are people who are struggling with their communications especially digital communications.

Here’s my pitch.

I can give your staff the communication skills to tell a story to your audience that will get them to act the way you want. Even if you think all your staff knows how to do is send out a press release.

Guarantee to work. If not, you’ll get your money back.

The guarantee is to form the basis of trust. I know what I’m doing and I trust it to work if you follow my steps and are willing to do the work.

Because with every interaction (whether a question or conversation), I promise to give you the best possible return for your time taken with me. And you can trust me to be honest, to have your best interest in mind, to give you a reason, to focus on you and what you are trying to accomplish, etc… Just remember that trust is very fragile.

If you go off brand or don’t deliver, it will be broken and it’s very, very hard to earn back.

3. You need to craft your stories.

Trust me, you are a storyteller.

Now that you have your elevator pitch and the image definition of yourself, you should start crafting your stories that promote your image.

How do you craft your stories that match your brand image?

  1. Be You – authentic, natural you. This is where trust is the highest.
  2. Talk to people like friends – when you are talking with friends, do you worry about the story you are telling or do you just tell it? Most people have no problems telling stories when the pressure is off – you are relating what has happened that your friends would find funny or interesting. By “being you”, you relate authentic stories – this is what captivates an audience.
  3. Use your experiences – very few storytellers can use another’s story and pass it along as their own. Again, people have a high BS meter. You have experiences that should relate to what your audience wants to know. You might have to sit down and write them down – that’s ok – but don’t be inauthentic. It will burn you in the end.
  4. Practice – use your brand stories and watch out people react. Did they laugh, did they cry, were they indifferent? Over time, you’ll know which stories to use. Remember audiences want to react – they may not trust you in the beginning – but they want you to entertain them on both an individual level and in a group setting. With practice, you’ll get better and understand when to pause and when to speed up the story.

4. Getting exposure to your personal brand

Exposure = sharing.

I’m a big proponent of sharing and I wrote an entire post on it. It’s the secret to personal branding.

I view all social media as a chance to share and get exposure.

I do not view it as a “private” me area. If you want a private me area, then I suggest using other platforms beyond social media.

Now I know I’m the digital guy but I believe in the traditional tools of the trade for personal branding. You need this foundation set before moving on to anything shiny and new like social media.

You will need these things for personal branding:

  • Business Cards – still the industry standard
  • Attending Events – going to events and meeting people face-to-face will help you the most in establishing trust
  • Join Peer Groups – masterminds, business networking, sports, etc… all can help your personal brand
  • Email Signature – you need to make sure people know who you are when you reach out or you get passed along on an email thread
  • Corporate Blog – getting on your company’s blog can give you a ton of exposure to your industry
  • Social Media Websites – passing along relevant information attached to your brand can give you exposure to people you would have never met physically

Whether you gather contacts from an event or online connection, all of them need to be housed in a central location.  This can be your company’s CRM (customer relationship management) tool or if you want to just use LinkedIn or a simple spread sheet in Google Docs (keep in the cloud so you don’t lose it if your computer dies).

Your email tool, like Outlook, is not a CRM and is difficult to transfer data back and forth between other tools.

With digital communications tools you can shape your professional brand to make it look the way you want it to. Here I’m talking about the different social media tools.

BLOG POWER
My home on the web
Can be done for free
Search engines love blogs
Easy to do and gives you personality
Comments/Feedback
Inbound links
No one can change the rules on your death star
Here’s my how to get started using a blog.

LINKEDIN POWER
It’s the easiest to maintain
More connections gives you a bigger network
Your online resume and portfolio
Public recommendations
Groups to help networking
Connected to Twitter and Facebook with a third party application
Here’s how to get started using LinkedIn.

LINKEDIN TIPS
Connections are everything – connect with everyone you meet in business.
Correct people’s profiles and summaries for advanced search.
Groups can be strong but difficult to maintain.
Tag others in updates to get their attention.
Understand there is more reading/stalking then interaction.
Use LinkedIn Pulse and share relevant content to your networks.

FACEBOOK POWER
Large network – 1.25 billion people
Professional and personal life blend the most
Share, Comment, Like, Friend
Positive messages are shared more
The use of lists is a must to control the algorithm
Your digital diary
Here’s how to get started using Facebook.

FACEBOOK TIPS
Try and use graphics or videos with links to drive back to website.
Funny stuff drives a lot of engagement along with questions.
Worry more about engagement and not numbers (straight from Facebook).
Pay for play on Facebook.
Use employee advocates to engage in company posts. (Make sure you have social media compliance)

TWITTER POWER
Fastest way to meet people you don’t know
News and rumors travel fast
Lots of noise and marketing garbage
Use lists to control\
Follow advocates and monitor detractors
Able to track conversations and trends
Here’s how to get started using Twitter.

TWITTER TIPS
Use common hashtags (creating your own is hard)
Use tools like ManageFlitter, Tweepi, or TweetAdder to add people
Use favorites to get people to follow
Do NOT auto-reply
Tweets with links in the middle
Use third party apps to control like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Tweetcaster.
Use search to answer questions

PINTEREST TIPS
Visual search (much better than traditional)
Recipes, clothes, decorations, crafts, infographics, and more…
Heavy use by women
70 million users and growing
Can drive extreme traffic to websites
Still a new network
Here’s how to get started using Pinterest.

Other Networks
Instagram – Here’s how to get started using Instagram
YouTube – Here’s how to get started using YouTube

Don’t have How To’s on these networks yet but I recommend checking them out.
Snapchat
Yelp
Flickr
Vine
Jelly

Secrets of Personal Branding Success Online

  1. Help others first. Highlight them, encourage them and in return they will be there for you.
  2. Don’t rant or be a Debbie Downer. Negative posts garner initial attention but it fades quickly.
  3. Don’t try and do all networks at once. Pick one and dig deeper.
  4. Schedule some time for it. 20 minutes a day if you can.

5. Monitor and Measure Your Brand

 

There are a couple of free tools that can help you monitor your brand.

Talkwalker Alerts – This will monitor you on the web.
Mention.com – This will monitor you via social media.

To measure your brand simply ask people who they think you are and what you do.  If they don’t know or get it wrong, then you need to adjust your message or possibly your exposure.

Make sure you are googling yourself – what does it say you are?

Make sure you sign out if you are logged into Google and delete your history so it doesn’t effect your search. It’s even better to check from an outside source or computer.

So a long blog post but I think it’s got some really good stuff in there. What would you add?

How do you write a brand statement?

We were working on doing a brand statement for a company when a colleague Scott passed along some good information he received from an expert in the field.

Start with:

To (target audience), (your company) is the (blank) provider/service of (blank) delivered through (blank).

This helped us a ton to put together several brand statements.

How do you write a brand statement?

We were working on doing a brand statement for a company when a colleague Scott passed along some good information he received from an expert in the field.

Start with:

To (target audience), (your company) is the (blank) provider/service of (blank) delivered through (blank).

This helped us a ton to put together several brand statements.

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