Every day on social media you see people talking about the importance of brands learning how to engage with their consumers, be more “human” and above all, be honest and transparent. Think about your life – how long would you stay friends with someone you didn’t trust? Would you continue to keep working on building that relationship? The same goes for brands. In order to grow their consumer base, they must build relationships. And those relationships must be based on trust.
Social media has leveled the playing field, opening up the opportunity for small brands to have the same chance of reaching as wide an audience as larger, more established brands. Trust goes a long way in cutting through some of the “noise” on social media, helping even start-ups gain attention and interest of existing and potential consumers.
Here are 7 ways brands can begin to build trust with their consumers using social media:
1. Quick and Responsive Communication: If I am happy with a company or a meal or customer service I’ve received, I am more likely to go straight to Twitter with my comment. I am less likely to fill out a comment card. I have my phone with me at all times, so it’s much more convenience to simply pull it out and type out a quick message to the company. Studies show that if someone has a bad experience, they will take to social media first to communicate their complaint. If brands receive a complaint via one of their social media channels, that is a great opportunity to quickly address the consumer, take ownership of the complaint and see what they can do to remedy the situation. I believe that most issues can be resolved and less consumers will be lost if brands do this in less than 5 hours from the time they received the message. This also shows on a larger scale to more people that the brand is listening and concerned with what people are saying. If handled correctly, a well handled complaint can often turn into a great testimonial for the brand.
2. People Buy From People: People often talk about being the same online as they are offline. In my opinion, that’s the only way to be. You are only one person, and if you are the face behind a brand, you are trusted to be for a reason. There is nothing I can think of that would make a good case for making a different persona online. If you want people to trust your brand as they would a friend, you have to speak with them as if they were your friend. Being yourself on social media also helps in keeping a consistent voice. If you are friendly and engaging one day and the next day you are simply selling your product with every message, people are going to be confused by your messaging and confusion leads to mistrust.
3. Create More Often Than You Curate: People who are looked at to be thought leaders have many people that trust them. While sharing posts on social media that you have not written is very common, if that is all you are doing, you are essentially showing that your brand has no original ideas of its own. You become more of an echo than someone to be looked to for answers your consumers are seeking. If you aim to truly gain respect and trust, you will need to show you can post timely original content that is relevant to your audience.
4. Be Transparent: This does not mean you should reveal company secrets, but the more you show you have nothing to hide, the easier it will be for people to trust your brand. A good example would be, if someone posts a complaint on your brand’s Facebook wall, do not simply delete it. Address it, and leave it up on the timeline to show that you have nothing to hide and no matter what, you will listen to what people are saying and will address it.
5. Be Accountable: We all make mistakes. You may have forgotten to send something out on a certain date, making a shipment arrive late, or you may have tweeted something that perhaps offended people. Don’t ignore or make excuses for these occurrences. Acknowledge that you understand what you have done wrong, and do what you are able to, to right the wrong as quickly as possible.
6. Be Helpful: Remember, this is not about YOU. This is all about your consumer. By being a member of the community, and using social listening, you will find out what your consumers are seeking to find out, or what questions they may have. This is what should drive your content. Being someone’
7. Do Not Auto-DM on Twitter: Just don’t do it. No. Matter. What.
These are just a few of many ways brands can build trust on social media. Remember that without your consumers, you don’t have a brand! Focusing on gaining the trust of your community as well as expressing gratitude for that trust will help you develop and deepen relationships, ensuring your business continues to grow.