Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Credibility

PamMoore
Pam Moore Owner/Partner, Marketing Nutz, LLC

Posted on December 2nd 2011

Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Credibility

When building an online persona and brand usually we start with the most basic aspects including over arching brand, logo, colors, core messages etc.  All of these are foundational to success.  We develop our plan, develop our platform, create and launch our brand presence, integrate social with our business goals and start the social media engagement.  However, after a few months goes by we realize nobody is buying from us.  Nobody is opting in to our email lists. What has happened? Why don’t they want to further engage with our brand? Do they not trust us? Do they not think that we could bring them value?

Do you lack the trust factor?  

There could be many different reasons why your communities are reluctant to engage with you.  One of the most common reasons is that they don’t trust you. You have all the pretty colors, bells and whistles for your online presence but you lack credibility.  You lack the trust factor.

In real life and offline relationships, trust is built via word of mouth, client and partner referrals.  One person talks to another person who knows good and bad about you. You earn a reputation for being who you are and the quality and service you deliver.  You may have a solid reputation and trust factor offline but are finding it difficult to establish such online.

If this is the case for you, don’t you fret! This could be for many reasons. It could be you are practically starting over with online relationships. If most of your offline contacts, partners, colleagues and friends are not yet online, then yes you are starting over to some degree. However, you can also leverage your relationships offline to bring credibility online.

Building trust doesn’t happen overnight. However, there are some simple things you can do even if you are just starting out to increase credibility and the trust factor.

10 Tips to Zoom Your Social Trust Factor

1. Establish authority.
First and foremost you must establish authority. Your must know your stuff. Faking it online will not get you far. Social media is far different than handing someone a business card. In the social realm it’s easy to validate who you are, where you have worked, what references you have, who your clients are, who your contacts are within only a few clicks.  Your content on all social platforms must scream results. It must be obvious you know your stuff. We need more than one bullet and short paragraph that tells readers you are an expert at whatever it is you do. Give credit to your sources and never take other people’s work as your own. Back up your claims with social proof such as blog content, references, client testimonials, client logos, guest blog posts and more.

social proof2. Social proof.
Yes, even though you may have spent far too much money on that beautiful Twitter background, custom Facebook page and blogsite, you still need to prove to me who and what you are.  This isn’t as hard as what it sounds. Don’t ignore this step. Instead make this one of the first things you do when you hop online. Take time to update this content at least once a month.  Good examples of social proof include testimonials, customer references, partner references, kudos from other thought leaders, examples of work completed, links to work completed, guest blogs you have contributed to, links to blogs where you and your content has been cited, white papers, ebooks, and the list goes on. Social proof should be instantly available within one or less clicks on your site. I should not have to dig, double and triple click to find it. Make it pop out at me from the front page please!

3. Walk the walk.
Your website and all online personas must not only talk the talk but your actions must walk the walk of whatever you say you do. If you claim to be the best social media and advertising agency this side of Texas and know how to deliver results, then your own website and online persona should not look like a fifth grader developed it. Fix the fonts, fix the colors, fix the content.

Take the time to do what you say you are so good at doing!  It’s like a dietician that is 150 lbs overweight telling you that they don’t worry about being healthy themselves that they focus only on you. Any good agency, agent, salesrep, blogger, copywriter, consultant, business services provider should be doing themselves what they say they can do for you. “Eat your own dogfood” is what we use to say in the big iron corporate days of the dot bomb era in high tech.

Delete the jargon and talk in real words that establish you as a walking testimonial of what you can do for clients! If you don’t take time to fix your own identity, online persona, brand, website, content, sales processes, business process why should anyone else believe you can do it for them? You are your own best social proof and will be amazed at the number of clients you will get if you start doing this!

4. Be consistent in both life and business.
The days of separating online and offline personas are over and done. You can’t be one person offline and a better, different person online. You are one business, one team, social business trust factorone person regardless if you are online or offline.  If you are a one man or one woman business consultant this is even more important. Who you are on Friday night at the bar is the same person you are on Monday morning. Your offline behavior reflects your online success. Be who you are as you are only one person. However, my point is don’t fake it. There is only one you so be that person. Hopefully that person is honest, sincere, real, open, and communicates well with people both online and offline.

5. Hang with the right peeps.
If you hang out with 9 brokes, chances are you are going to be the 10th! Hang out with people you learn from, people who build you, empower you and make you a better person. Avoid the people who kick you down, criticize you and overall envy your success.  Be sure you hang with the people who are going places. Establish real relationships and work together. Take time to know and research the people you hang out with. Don’t just trust everyone on first tweet. Just as you need to establish trust with your community, expect the same of those you bring into your inner circle.

6. You had me at first tweet.”
I hear this a lot from many businesses who eventually become our clients. What you tweet matters. Don’t be negative Nelly all day. Give your Twitter and Facebook readers good nuggets of information that help them, inspire them and enable them to get to know you better. We have numerous clients who we have met from one single tweet that inspired or educated them. Don’t minimize the power of inspiring people to engage with you and your brand and start the first stages of trusting you even in 140 character increments known as tweets!

7. Take time for relationships.
I see many businesses and consultants get too caught up in the science of social media that they forget the most important aspect, the art.  I am not talking about art as in brand and colors. Instead focus on the art as in relationships and conversation. The tools of social media can be learned by almost anybody. It’s the art of engagement that will differentiate you from the masses. If you are finding it hard to build real relationships online then chances are you are not taking the time to get to know someone. Take time to truly connect with others. Ask them questions. Comment on their blog posts. Reach out to folks you feel comfortable with and build a relationship.

There are new pockets of peeps, partners, crowd sourced blog communities and potential real life friends popping up every day. Get to know some of the folks in the communities. Start your own communities.

8. Build a platform that invites conversation.
If your platform reads like a billboard or corporate collateral from the 1980′s then chances are you are not going to inspire much conversation. Ensure that everything from your content to blog share buttons, commenting systems, opt-in forms, contact forms, colors, and lanugage are all inviting. If you are not getting the engagement you need, then ask a trusted 3rd party to do an assessment for you. Ask them specific questions about how your content makes them feel. Ask them where and how they would engage with you on our social platforms. Unless you invite folks to engage with you and your brand, chances are they won’t. There is definitely not a lack of other businesses successful at doing such that are going to steal their mindshare from you.

9. It’s not about you!
As much as you want to think that your Twitter profile, tweet stream, Facebook business page and blog are all about you, they aren’t. Yes, you can use these platforms to establish authority, build community and trust, it is not a walking billboard of YOU.  Your online personas should scream helpfulness, content that inspires, conversation that engages. Talk to your communities in voices they like to communicate, not in web speak.  Ask them what they want if you don’t know. Take time to know your audience, partners, clients and more. The better you understand your audiences, the better you will be able to help them. The more you help them, the more they will trust you via your actions.

10. Author content. 
Chances are you are in business because you know something. You hopefully know something that is going to help a business or individual otherwise you probably won’t be in business long.  Make certain you establish your own content. I am a big believer in sharing and curating awesome content I find across the web with my communities.  However, I am also a believer in creating my own content. It is through your own content that people get to know YOU! It’s where you can establish trust, thought leadership, expertise, relationships. Businesses and individuals that are not creating content are  missing out on incredible opportunities to connect with people in a way that brings them close to you and your brand.

11. Be honest. 
I added this one as a bonus mostly because it should be common sense.  If you have an issue with a product, service, software, network, Twitter feed, Facebook post, blog post or other just be honest and acknowledge the issue. Hiding from it is not going to do anything that will bring benefit to you or your business.  Don’t under estimate the power of your community and relationships. They are much more resilient when the relationship is built on trust and credibility.

Bottom line, if you lose my trust, you lose me.  

I could write a book on this topic and probably should. However, a blog post has to end somewhere. There is no price tag we can put on trust. It is simply invaluable. Take the time to not only be a person people want to trust but ensure your online persona helps you establish such.

Your Turn

Do you struggle with establishing trust in your markets or online? Did this article help you? Or are you a pro who has tips you can share with others? Let’s all help one another as feedback from others is a great way to learn on these types of topics.

 

PamMoore

Pam Moore

Owner/Partner, Marketing Nutz, LLC

Half marketing, half geek, social media addict, CEO & Founder of Marketing Nutz @MktgNutz, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, coach. Lover of strategy, ROI, Brand, God, Family, Friends, Beach & Life! 15+ years of experience helping small startups to Fortune 100 companies, budgets teeny tiny to big in both B2B and B2C markets build brand awareness, grow new markets, develop communities and master ROI across all mediums! Industries of expertise include high technology, non-profit & fundraising, green eco-friendly, enterprise data storage, professional services and storage management, real estate and home building, natural lighting, database analytics & modeling, online marketing, as well as web 2.0 ecommerce for online retailers. http://www.themarketingnutz.com

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Comments

Nanette Saucier
Posted on December 2nd 2011 at 12:58PM

Thanks for these tips on trust. I especially like your tip to live your home and business life the same. I'm a Weight Loss and Wellness Coach. I seem to have plenty of visitors to my website, but rarely have anyone leave comments on my blog posts except for other coaches from a LinkedIn group I belong to. How do I engage potential clients? Thanks!

PamMoore
Posted on December 3rd 2011 at 9:45AM

Thanks Nanette. Yes, I think far too many people think they can split their business and personal life. I always tell client that "there is only one you, if you live 2 lives eventually one is going to cross the other."  Facebook isnt' the problem. The problem is the two different lives! 

 

I'd have to see your blog, social platforms, know more about your audience and objectives and then could provide advice. The key is to know who your audience is, what they want and how you can help them. Then build your social platforms around goals that will help you achieve such. 

Thanks for taking the time to comment. 

Nate.Luck
Posted on December 2nd 2011 at 2:31PM

Good thoughts. Trust is a difficult thing to obtain, and even more difficult to regain once its lost. I particularly liked #9 - It's not about you. Inquiring about how your audience feels gives a more personal touch. Along with that is listening when they do respond. Nobody wants to leave a comment only to have it go into limbo and never receive any feedback. Its very discouraging. These things are all too applicable outside of social media as well. "Quick to listen."

PamMoore
Posted on December 3rd 2011 at 9:46AM

Nate - you hit the nail on the head. I think it's easy to talk but shows respect to listen. Far too many businesses and business leaders don't take time to listen. The more we listen the more we learn. 

lucaleonardini
Posted on December 2nd 2011 at 4:53PM

Hi Pam, when you'll decide to publish your book I'll be the first to buy it and I'll ask you to sign it for me! ;-)

Thanks for the invaluable inspiration.

PamMoore
Posted on December 3rd 2011 at 9:47AM

You are quite welcome. Appreciate the kind words. I am working on a couple books to launch within the next year or two.  

lori_graham
Posted on December 2nd 2011 at 5:11PM

Hi Pam - how to build the trust factor is always one of those questions that comes up with clients and in workshops. Once again, you've provided some great, easy to follow tips. I believe #7 is one of the most important tips to zoom your social factor. It's definitely one that times time and patience but leads to great relationships.

PamMoore
Posted on December 3rd 2011 at 9:48AM

I agree Lori. Relationships are key. Taking time to truly engage with those who want to engage with you makes all the difference on obtaining a return in both personal and professional ways of time spent on any activity. 

CaroleB
Posted on December 2nd 2011 at 5:56PM

Great advice! Having just started my social media management business, these are all things that need to be given attention. I'm in the midst of re-branding (yes, already) because I feel like my logo, website, etc leave much to be desired...and how can I solicit clients if I haven't done it correctly for myself? Answer: I can't! As someone who hasn't secured a client yet, would you suggest offering services for free to one or two clients in order to gain recommendations?

PamMoore
Posted on December 3rd 2011 at 9:52AM

Hi Carole. Yes, if I were you I would work with a local non-profit or Chamber of Commerce. Maybe consider offering a free workshop or two. Connect with the leadership in different associations so you can get the word out about your services. Consult with a few businesses at no or little cost. Limit the time doing this, but pick a few good companies who either you have a heart to help (non-profit), or can help connect you with other leads (Chamber). 

We started out giving free workshops and are now paid by the same organizations for workshops that we once offered free. Just as with anything, if you focus on giving with no expectation in return, you'll get back so much more and not always in a monetary. 

Best of luck to you. Let me know if I can help. We will be kicking off a new round of training starting in January via my agency ZoomFactor http://www.zoomfactoronline.com  We'd love to have you in the class. 

CaroleB
Posted on December 4th 2011 at 3:00AM

Thanks so much for the advice, Pam! I'll definitely reach out to Chambers & non-profits & put together a presentation for a workshop. I'd love to participate in your training - went to your site, but didn't see anything about it, but I follow you and now follow ZoomFactor on fb and Twitter, so I'm sure I'll hear about it! Thanks!

LauraMcClain
Posted on December 11th 2011 at 4:13PM

This is a great list of reminders! I especially needed 9 and 10, but the entire list says to me "focus". Focus your energy in a positive, meaningful and inviting way. I think I just created a New Year's resolution. Thanks for your help, Pam!