The content an organization publishes online is increasingly contributing to how customers regard that organization’s brand. 

When was the last time you ever met someone from Amazon? When was the last time you had a phone call with someone from Amazon? Probably never.

Yet in 2014 Amazon came first in a ranking of reputation in a poll of 14,000 US consumers by Harris Interactive. (Google was fourth.)

“Amazon is predominantly a virtual company where you don’t get to see the people. You don’t see brick and mortar,” states Robert Fronk, executive vice-president of reputation management at Harris. “For them to first of all have the highest reputation, but more importantly to be the company with far and away the highest emotional appeal, is amazing.” (According to Harris, emotional appeal is made up of a combination of trust, admiration and respect.)

We read Amazon. We read its content, we read the content of publishers and retailers who sell through it, we read the content of its customers in the form of product reviews.

But the Amazon content is nothing in and of itself. The review for the book, the description of the camera, the recommendation for the music, the delivery details -- these things are all promises. Content is a promise. You made a decision to buy or not to buy based on this promise. For millions of people, Amazon keeps its promises. You buy the right books, cameras, music. You get it delivered when you expect it.

We trust Amazon nearly 100 percent of the time. “More than 50 percent of respondents also recall discussing Amazon with friends and family in the past year, and nearly 100 percent of these conversations were positive,” Harris states.

So, content is a promise, and a promise given is only as good as a promise kept. But even still, it’s a big thing that online content is helping drive trust, helping make or break reputations.

Not many organizations have truly understood the importance of quality content. According to our own study of over 1,000 web professionals, there is a huge gap between senior management and the web team.

It might seem counterintuitive but I think the way we start changing how management thinks is by avoiding talking about content itself. Rather, we should focus our attention on the customer. We should continuously show that customer behavior is changing. That online is the place they are going to do their research and make their decisions.

Professionals by their very nature are much more excited when they talk about the things they do rather than the problems they solve. Content is not the conversation we need to have with senior management. We should go to senior management and make them promises.

We should promise to enhance the brand and reputation of the organization. We should talk about how we help increase customer trust. We should talk about how we help get new customers and keep current customers loyal and happy.

When was the last time Amazon said that it had better content than its competitors?