Strategic Communication  

How to Increase Customer Trust Through Your Blog


To increase customer trust of your brand, use the right tone and language in your company blog posts.

Corporate blog content that includes emotional words and a positive tone raises the trustworthiness and authenticity of a brand, according to new research out of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Communications. The findings were published in the November 2015 issue of the journal Public Relations Review.

In the study, Ji Young Kim, assistant professor (Ph.D. University of Florida, 2012), Spiro Kiousis, executive dean of the College of Journalism and Communications and public relations professor, and Juan-Carlos Molleda, then professor and chair of the Department of Public Relations and now dean of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications, conducted a series of experiments with 242 Participants. First, participants were asked to read one of several versions of a blog post by a fake sportswear company. The posts varied in both their tone and emotional language. For instance, some posts had a positive tone which discussed the brand’s “prestigious national customer service award” and their “innovative product design.” Other posts contained more neutral language or negative language describing the company.  

The emotional language employed by the posts also varied. Some posts used highly emotional language (“prestigious” and “exceptional” for positive posts; “awful” and “horrible” for negative ones). Others avoided these terms altogether.  

After reading the post, participants were asked to rate how much they trusted the company posting the blog, responding to statements such as, “I believe that this organization would act in my best interest.” They also assessed the company’s credibility, as well as its authenticity by reacting to statements like, “generally speaking, the image or claims of the organization evoke pleasure and fun,” and “I feel the organization’s offering accurately represents an original idea and design.”

The researchers found that tone, but not emotional language, had an impact on the perceived credibility of the organization. However, both tone and emotional language influenced perceived trust and authenticity.  

“Organizations communicate with their key publics through a wide variety of communication channels, including blogs, websites, or social media websites, and their online communication strategies are one of the critical predictors of successful relationships between organizations and publics,” the researchers explain.

To build credibility, trust and authenticity, practitioners should consider the tone and the emotional language use when developing written content online.


Posted: August 17, 2016