Any successful brand marketing portfolio now includes social media. Although it has been a growing trend for years, many brands are still trying to get their hands around how to best impact their bottom lines via the social sphere. As brands try to navigate this space that is still new and ever growing, many are overlooking one very important element – the concept of trust.
Basic human nature prevents our relationships from ever going past a certain level if there is no trust. It’s a protective mechanism that is housed and deeply rooted in all of us. The same goes for brands seeking to build relationships with consumers online: without trust, the relationship will only get so far.
In order to develop trust online, brands must first build a social media dialogue that will grow and evolve into a trusting, fruitful relationship. Unlike traditional marketing, social media gives brands a chance to interact directly and immediately with consumers. This direct access is a powerful tool and one that must be monitored in order to ensure it is always being used in a manner that builds on trust and moves your relationship with consumers forward.
As social media audiences have grown substantially over recent years and demographic reach continues to expand, brands can no longer ignore the opportunity for communicating their brand value and building brand trust by engaging with customers online. But how can brands take advantage of social media without compromising the relationship and trust they have developed with their consumers?
Here are five ways brands can build trust with current and future customers online through social media:
- Transparency: In today’s world, transparency is an inherent reality. Consumers will be talking about your brand online, so you need to embrace this and get involved in guiding the conversation instead of just letting it happen without you. Mistakes happen, so own up to them online. Consumers will respond much more positively to a brand that takes ownership publicly and explains the situation. The same goes for growth and new products. Let your customers know what’s coming and thank them for their input in guiding your decision. Being truly transparent creates a natural sense of trust.
- Always Be Available: Consumers need to know you’re online and that they can always reach you. The ability to connect anytime is a great catalyst toward building trust. This online channel is also a great opportunity to provide additional service in front of a larger audience. But what if the customer voices a complaint? Have no fear! These opportunities can often turn into great testimonials when customers are handled with care and honesty, and quite often these customers will become some of your strongest brand advocates.
- Project Accountability: Brands who openly engage in social media and encourage their customers to interact with them project a certain level of accountability. In using social media aggressively, brands can essentially hold themselves accountable to their consumer base by providing better products, services and customer appreciation. And what’s even better is that it will all be done on a global stage, providing additional marketing leverage.
- Engage With Enthusiasm: An easy way to gain trust and strengthen your relationship with your customers is to simply entertain them. Don’t always focus your online message on your company – show a lighter side and talk about what’s going on around you, introduce your staff or share thoughts on a hot topic. Provide value to your customers in a fun and creative way through daily content, videos, contests and infographics. This is an excellent way to keep your customers engaged, and typically, if they find it entertaining, they will also share it with others, increasing your overall marketing reach.
- Always Practice Social Responsibility: Letting your customers know that you care about others more than yourself or your bottom line is an exceptional way to foster trust. Socially responsible brands traditionally gain more momentum and support because their customers know they aren’t just about profits but also are interested in giving back to the community. Social media is the perfect platform upon which to promote your brand’s social involvement.
When marketing your brand online, remember to embrace the customer, stay true to who you are and engage openly. These basic rules will provide the foundation upon which to build a long-lasting relationship of trust with your customers.