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45 Ways to Build Trust in Your Brand Using Social Media

In the new economy there is one major truth that stands above the rest. Trust equals revenue. It doesn't matter the size of your business. It is the strength you build between employees and customers that creates a strong and viable brand. The very definition of marketing should be about building truth that filters into an integrated marketing system using both digital and traditional channels. Only then can we realize the true success to any marketing campaign.

The trust brings happy customers and fulfilled employees. Trust is a fundamental building block of any brand. Marketing strategy should be built under the assumption that stories create an emotional bond between a customer and a brand, a client and a service. Do you tell a story that builds trust between your advocates? Social media helps build that trust. 

1. Content is the number one way to build trust in any market. By creating meaningful and thought provoking content you are building a bridge to later sell that person on your services.

2. Telling A Story: The stories surrounding your brand is your competitive advantage. It is extremely important that you allow for your consumers to tell the story for you. The people who love what you do... and the people you serve... are the best to tell the story of your company. Forget about mission statement and vision statements... ASK your consumers.

3. Building Influencers: Jeff Bullas said it best during an interview with Salesforce.com - "There has to be a fair exchange of value and brands need to ensure they don't take Influencers for granted based on old paradigms."  Influencers are extremely important to building trust in social media. Like any sponsorship of an athlete, the brand is building trust by sponsoring leaders in a specific community. 

4. Transparency: This can also pertain to content or the use of a social network. Transparency is the act of being human as a brand. Be human. Use employees and customers to share and tell your story as a brand. Only then can you be truly transparent. If you make a mistake, live up to that mistake. 

5. Saying Thank You: If somebody helps you share information or decides to retweet a post be sure to thank that person. They are helping you spread the word... they are your online evangelists.. If you miss a thank you.. don't let it kill you.. but try to make the most of the people that help you out.

6. Communicating Thought Leadership: One way for a brand to lose credibility with a social audience is to simply spam them with “opportunities” to purchase a product or service without providing any value. This value can come in many forms, but should be designed to teach, entertain, ignite discussions, and gain honest feedback. Social media is the perfect platform for a brand to communicate their expertise in a given industry, and do so by providing great content that people will share with others. This is how companies can become thought leaders in their space. (Forbes)

7. Do Not Auto-DM on Twitter: Do I really need to say more?

8. No Hard Selling... Ever: I don't care about your e-newsletter, the new lotion you are selling, or year-end campaign. Also, just because I reply to a tweet or a message does not mean you can message me back and sell your wares. Social media is a long sell process. You are developing content in order to gain an order of trust with people in your area of influence. We are now experiencing a relationship driven economy... get on the train.

9. Size Doesn't Matter (Sometimes): Remember that you are building relationships.. do not trust the people that tell you to add 1023920 friends and make $10,000 a month. It is a load of crap. Build your following slowly... create relationships in an online environment that can be transferred offline. And remember to integrate as much as possible. Try to pull your Twitter and Facebook followers to your email newsletter or direct mail campaign.

10. Criticism is Important:You will be criticized. It is the truth of open communication. Take it with stride and respond. If you are debated... make sure you respond. Stand up for what you believe and you will gain trust with the people who are listening and watching.

11. Consider the Design of your Website and Social Media Pages: How many times have you visited a poorly built website and decided that it was not worth your time to attempt to look any further into the company? Or, just as bad, noticed that a company did not have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, or other popular social networking sites? By not making your website and social media pages user-friendly and properly maintaining them, you can instantly lose credibility with your online visitors. (DigitalSherpa)

12. Have Fun: Good Lord... is it that hard? You have the ability to connect with thousands upon thousands of people from every nationality and life experience. Just imagine your ability to expand your knowledge base and learn?!  If you are not enjoying and having fun with what you do... quit... go find something else.

13. Send a Handwritten Note: People are thanked on a daily basis through social media. If I need someone to thank... I usually send them a message or an email. It is very rare that I will get a thank you card in the mail from someone on social media. Talk about building trust and setting yourself apart!

14. Deliver Quality: By sharing your best content, people will begin to start understanding your company better, and looking towards you for information. At this point, you’ve already created great content that is worthy of sharing with people, so it has been fact checked, and revised. Trustable information looks professional, contains great information, and has no errors. By sharing the content you have spent the most time on with followers on social media, you’ll increase their trust. (Impact)

15. Send Out Random Surveys to Your Clients and Readers: There are plenty of sites that have services for survey design and distribution. It is important that you ask your readers and clients to contribute to the business planning process through social media. It is important that you know what they are thinking... you also want them to understand you care.

16. Understand the Importance of a Social Presence in your Industry: Leverage social media monitoring, customer surveys and industry research to get a broad view of what role social media plays in the brand and prospect relationship. Talk to social savvy sales people to get their first hand perspectives and  identify what’s working. (TopRank)

17. Get Involved in Your Community and Share on Social: Community development and participation is key when building a business. It is the community whether online or offline that drives business for every small business owner. Get involved in your community and share your involvement on social media. This could mean that you share a picture of attending a fundraising event on Twitter or Facebook. 

18. Be Responsive in Your Social Media Use: Olson finds that when only text is available, participants judge trustworthiness based on how quickly others respond. So, for instance, it is better to respond to a long Facebook message “acknowledging” that you received the message, rather than to wait until there’s time to send a more thorough first message. Wait too long and you are likely to be labeled “unhelpful,” along with a host of other expletive-filled attributions the mind will happily construct. (Science of Building Trust in Social Media post from Mashable)

It is important to remember that being responsive is huge. When a problem is happening on social media... it is happening.. NOW. There is still a debate on whether social media content changes a perception of a brand to the consuming public. Whether or not sales dip or changes it is still important to build out a customer service model for your company or organization's social media consumption.

19. Social Responsibility: A great way to build trust with your customers is to let them know that you care about others more than just yourself. The same goes for building brand equity. Socially responsible brands often gain more momentum because their customers know they aren’t just about profits, but also giving back to their communities or the world around them. Social media channels are the perfect platform to communicate this message and let it spread organically.  For example, Marriott is running a check-in campaign that encourages guests to check-in, and the hotel will donate $2 to charity.  This promotion is intended to leverage a typical social interaction for the greater good. (Forbes

20. B2B Interaction: Don’t just use social media for connecting with your clients, use it to connect with other law firms, companies, and organizations, too. Interacting with the charities your firm supports, striking up conversations with industry leaders, and partnering up with other law firms for networking event or fundraisers will show the public that you’re interested in more than their business. People trust brands that enact social change and take responsibility for their actions. You can use social media to show just how involved your company is. (Interpromot)

 

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21. Use that 80-20 Rule: 80% of your posts should be what your audience wants to learn, to enjoy, to absorb, something to make their day better. 20% should be about what you do, how your business can help them, how you can solve problems they may have and educate them. Most businesses are doing it the reverse way with 80% about them and 20% about other things. (FB Smarty)

 

22. Develop a Clear Message for the Digital World: According to Edelman's Trust Barometer Survey for 2011, brands and companies need to develop a clear message and then get internal and external "experts" to convey those positive messages. These experts need to be popular enough that their posts will be discoverable by consumers doing brand/product/giving searches. Thus, building relationships with influencers has become even more important for brands/companies/organizations.

23. Start Thinking about PlayList Marketing: We now function in The Playlist Era where people choose only what they want most and not “shop.” Instead, they choose from personalized options presented based upon a relationship that has been created, valued and reinforced. Accordingly, we have all learned to associate those options (products and services) with a brand. Psychologists call this activity “framing” and the brain doesn’t let go of this brand-object and -service association; once framed, we believe it has no substitute.

24. Understand Who, Not How Many: The world is full of informational clutter: incoming messages, choices, features, needs and media. And with this wealth of information comes a poverty of attention. While we can’t change this environment, we can adapt. To do so, we ask “who and why?” instead of “how many and when?” People aren’t just households in a segment, but are individuals with unique needs, motivations, interests and passions. They only become committed, loyal advocates and a part of what you do when they see your organization’s mission as necessary.

26. Share Your Plans with the World: Rohit Bhargava says it best on his post, "Building Trust: 6 Ways to Get People to Believe You Online," when he says:

If you think about your relationships in real life, when people share more about what they are thinking and planning to do, you feel more involved with them. Giving the inside story is a great way to build trust.

27. Focus on the Community of Content Instead of the Technology: It is important to focus on the people who can create the content for you in order to further your message in the online space. Having a good foundation of content and people are key to your social media and digital marketing success. Your community of content is where you focus on the story instead of the technology.

28. Use Passive and Active Communication: There are two types of communication models that can be used in the social media space: passive and active content. Be sure to build out content that have to do with both types of communication.

The greatest strength of social media in terms of building long-lasting trust is that the two way communication can be passive as well as active, and between any two individuals sitting at the opposite corners of the world. The key is, people should listen, assimilate, and then respond accordingly.

29. Advise the Customer: Previously, we talked about hard selling being a no-no and I wanted to tack on one more juicy bit of information for you. Instead of selling wares... become an advisor to the masses that are interacting with you and your content. Advise on the right way to do things and teach people instead of... sell people.

30. Use Rewards to Engage Customers: It is possible to use, track, and execute on exclusive coupons for consumers of retail and service businesses. This is for the consumer who has taken the time to interact with your brand on social media. Give people a reason to keep interacting (on top of content).

31. Respond Magnanimously to Negative Comments: Women Grow Business said it best in their post about building trustRemaining silent or appearing defensive does more harm than good. Respond graciously, see if there is something you can do to fix the problem. Many times there is a solution and your complainer will appreciate a listening ear and an understanding heart.

32. Be Stupid: The world of social media is changing so rapidly that it is going (and is) hard for all of us to keep up! It is okay to be stupid and take chances! If you do not know if an idea or a piece of content is going to be relevant to your followers... share it anyway. You may be pleasantly surprised.

33. Promote Partners with Your Content: Starbucks taught us all that sharing other types of content on your network is the key to brand development. Their Starbucks Digital Network has been a breeding ground for music, documentaries, educational material, and their in-store product education. Howard Schultz said this about the Starbucks revolution:

“If you give a customer an understanding of what your values are, and they share those values, and they believe it, they will pay a premium."

34. Use Tactical Transparency: Tactical transparency means the use of social media tools to let brands talk authentically about their products and services to their community. It's a behavior as well as a philosophy. You do not have to have full disclosure around your brand or organization to have authenticity or breed trust, but you do have to show your audience that you are listening and that you are in the places online, at Facebook, MySpace, et cetera, where they already spend their time. (Fast Company)

35. Youtility is Marketing Upside Down: Instead of marketing that's needed by organizations, Youtility is marketing that's wanted by consumers. It's massively useful FREE information, that creates long term trust and kinship between a company and its customer. (Jay Baer from Youtility)

36.  Quick & Responsive Customer Communication: If consumers know they can reach out to your company via social media and are encouraged to do so, this is a good opportunity to provide great service in front of a large audience. Don’t be afraid of customer complaints. Address them head on. These opportunities can often turn into great testimonials when customers are handled with care. (Forbes)

37. Always Keep Your Promises: Remember that there are two types of promises you make as a business owner or business professional. You have the promise of your brand and the reputation your brand has in the marketplace. You must display the two promises in the content that you are sharing. If you are professional brand with esteem and hundreds of years behind your belt... create content that reflects that promise and reputation.

38. Set High Permission Standards on Your Email Marketing: Never try to trick people into opting in for certain things. You need to get clear permission to send out everything you want to through your email marketing campaign....Lastly, require all new subscribers to confirm their decision to opt in through a second action. This could be done by instructing them to click on a confirmation link located in your first email (Ana Lucia Novak)

39. Small Highly Engaged Communities: The savviest brands will being to build small highly engaged communities where they can learn more about what their audiences want, need and desire. (WeAreSocial)

40. Remember the Definition of Trust: Trust can be defined as a firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing. Also, remember that trust is the condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed in something.Trust can be a powerful thing if built the right way in the world of interactive, digital, and social media marketing and development. It is the true source of a happy customer.

41. You Are Competing with Mom and Dad: For the first time, organizations and companies have to compete on the very same turf as our family and friends, using the very same tools, technologies, media and messaging as consumers. They are invading the spaces we are using to connect personally (Jay Baer from Youtility). You have to create content that not only educates but engages consumers in social media. It isn't enough to buy a promoted post. 

42. Ask Questions to Stay Relevant: If you're not asking questions about what's different today, you're on a path to complacency. It's not necessarily overnight shifts they're ongoing and perpetual - but they are going to change everything. If you're not competing for the future, you're by definition competing for irrelevance. (Brian Solis) You must stay relevant in any channel to build long-term trust with consumers of your product or service. 

43. Data Beats Opinions: Data should always be used to explain the success or failure of a channel NOT subjective perspectives and opinions. Social media is a slippery slope and the only way to truly use it effectively is to back your opinions up with data. 

44. Helping and Selling: The difference between helping and selling is just two letters. But those two letters are critically important to the success of business today. Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it. It's a new marketing model for the age of information overload. (Jay Baer)

45.  Enhance Satisfaction when Customers Complain: Empower and inform – Eighty percent of all issues are basically no brainer where the solution is fairly obvious. Excellence lies in the other twenty percent of issues that are more complex. Employees must feel fully capable of handling these issues. Provide empowerment issue by issue through flexible solution spaces (FSS). In other words, for each issue, there are a series of criteria that must be considered. Provide guidelines for decision-making which give relatively great flexibility to your customer care professionals. Within those guidelines they have free rein. Be sure your customer care reps have thorough, up-to-date information supporting your empowerment procedures. (Salesforce.com)

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