Influence: The Importance of Consistency

Consistency: a Motivational Poster
Image by jot777stan

It’s funny how much we talk about content frequency, retweet ratios, comments, etc. as key determinants of influence. What really matters in interactions with people, particularly as a content creator, is consistency.

Not that content, retweets and interactions aren’t important. They are (depending on your goals).

They’re just public and measurable, making them easily quantified. Go Klout.

From a psychological perspective, when trying to develop influence and loyalty we need consistency in those acts. We trust people that deliver reliable consistent acts, and are even lulled into trusting them without thinking about it (groupthink).

One of the most important and still prescient works on the topic, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion goes in depth into the importance of commitment and consistency as core trust factors to get people to do things.

“Someone without [consistency] could be judged as fickle, uncertain, pliant, scatterbrained or unstable; how someone with it is viewed as rational, assured, trustworthy, and sound,” says Author Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D.

I know this to be true from my sales experience. A core aspect of sales training is building trust through consistency.

This is particularly true of business to business consulting. When you tell a prospect you are going to do something for them (commitment), you must do it, and on time.

This builds trust. The customer believes that you will deliver your promise if they give you a contract.

How This Impacts Blogging

Applied to social media and blogging in particular, I think frequency is important, but what’s more important is not just the amount of posts, but the consistent delivery of that content.

Using this blog as an example, it’s had its ups and downs. Recently it started to have an uptick in subscribers, the first time in a long time, actually.

There’s been more content, true. Frequency is up. But after a period of experimentation and based off of what worked for readers both for clicks and comments, I made a commitment to do the following:

Deliver four blog posts a week:

  • Three posts will be delivered on M-W at 11 a.m. exactly.
  • Those three posts will be on these topics; influence (ta da), marketing or integration, and strategy.
  • The fourth post will be delivered on Friday at 7 a.m., and it will shed more light on the way I think personally or in business, as well as hobbies like photography, etc.; generally lighter fare for the weekend.
  • The only alternate topic is social media, but for my own purposes, I would prefer to focus on the four prior topic areas; the first three for business, the fourth to allow people inside and get to know me (good and bad). If I go social, it’s important to tie it back to one of those.

By staying on topic with this editorial mission (a recommendation from both Now Is Gone and Welcome to the Fifth Estate), and delivering regularly and consistently people come to trust me the information resource more.

Because I write everyday I now have a jreservoir of posts that is a month deep.

If something happens that requires me to disappear, I can simply let the scheduled posts do the work. And if something in the now deserves blog attention, I can simply unschedule the existing post and replace with the timely news.

I believe this specific and consistent editorial content will create growth. We shall see.

One thing I know it will do is improve my relationship with you, my dear community members. You are coming to know who I am, and what you are going to get from me every week. I hope you agree.

What do you think about commitment and consistency as they relate to trust?