Trust and credibility are two of the most essential components of any successful relationship. Without trust, relationships never grow beyond a certain level and fail to achieve their full potential.
The same stands true for business relationships as well. Without credibility, organizations can never develop a community around their brands. They would also find it hard to convert visitors into customers and customers into loyal ones.
Fortunately, with social media websites, brands can get much closer to their customers and build direct relationships with them. However, this personal touch is equally risky and can completely expose a brand if it doesn't handle this exposure appropriately.
Having recently explored a small business B2B portal, Quality Trade, as a part of my research study on how brands build trust online, I came across certain patterns that were common among the most successful businesses that also had a vibrant social media presence. Surprisingly, the majority of the those businesses belonged to indutries that we don't commonly associate with social media. Still, they were not only able to build an engaged audience on their social profiles, but also converted many of their followers into paid cusotmers.
Based on that study, here are a few tips that should help you build trust with your current and potential customers on social netoworks.
1. Choose Only The Relevant Social Networks
Just because social networks help you get in touch with customers doesn't mean you need to be active on all of them. You need to identify the right social media platforms where the majority of your customer base is present. Getting active on too many social networks would not only stretch you for resources, but also make it difficult for you to create a sense of community around your profiles.
The best way is to start with 1 or 2 more active and popular platforms. For some business these could be Facebook, Twitter and Google+, while for others Pinterest might be a better option. You can run a quick survey to get more details on the preferred social networks of your target audience.
Similarly, you can study your competitors to see how they're using social networks and which ones are bringing the most engagement for them. Remember, a dead social media profile is much worse than having no profile at all. So make sure you're highly engaged and active on any networks you choose.
2. Share High Value Content
There's no substitute for high quality content, even on social media. There are millions of social media profiles and accounts bombarding the users with content every second. In order to stand out and get noticed, you need to provide consistent quality.
Identify the problems, issues and needs of your target audience, and address them through your social media posts. Create content that genuinely helps people. Provide solutions, share knowledge and demonstrate industry expertise - there's no better way of establishing trust than this.
3. Ensure Transparency
Social media websites expose you directly in front of your target audience. By nature, these platforms encourage informal and transparent engagement. You need to come out of your corporate mood in order to truly benefit from these platforms.
People will talk about the strengths and weaknesses of your brand openly on social media. You can't stop them from doing that. Instead, you need to take this positively and approach them with transparency. Understand what they're saying and be ready to accept your shortcomings.
Brands that engage with their clients transparently are much more likely to win their trust and future business.
4. Create a Memorable Service Experience
Social networks are inherently great for providing fast and timely customer service. Take advantage of this fact and consider these platforms as direct customer touch points. Create memorable experiences by responding to customer queries quickly and comprehensively.
Your social media pages and profiles are publicly visible. So many potential customers are keenly watching how you treat your clients. It's an opportunity for you to win new business and expand your customer base. Similarly, competitors are also keeping a close eye on your pages, and they won't wait for a minute to latch on to any weaknesses in your services.
In short, you can either win hearts by creating great customer experiences or lose potential customers through bad service.
5. Have a Personality
In today's interactive and highly personal world, brands and organizations need to have a public face. Someone people can relate with and someone who they can approach when they need help. Your brand needs to have a personality, a voice, a face.
This is what brand ambassadors are all about.
With social media websites, you need to maintain a consistent voice and personality. Be human, because you're dealing with humans. Have emotions, empathy and understanding of real life issues. It's a great way of getting closer to your customers and becoming a part of their daily lives.
6. Engage in a Fun Way
Content is king. But to be more precise, relevant, targeted and engaging content is king. Social media is informal by nature. You can't keep publishing boring and serious content all the time. Use interactive forms of content like videos, inforgraphics, memes, images, sounds, viral clips and other fun content.
Give people a reason to visit your page apart from your own services.
Share their joy, enjoy their events and create content that suits their mood. Even when you're posting purely knowledge based content, you can present it in a fun way using the different content forms I just mentioned. The possibilities are just endless.
7. Ensure Accountability
As a brand, when you're dealing directly with your target market, you need to hold yourself accountable all the time for providing top notch services and products. You're constantly in the public eye and cannot afford to let your standards go down.
If you take this positively and keep raising the standards of your services, then social media can easily become your most important source of motivation and product innovation.
Moreover, brands that hold themselves accountable, on social media, also win customer trust much more easily since they become consistent with their offerings and can be depended upon for providing relevant solutions.
Social media websites offer brands a great opportunity to get closer to their customer and build trust with them. With honest, transparent and carefully planned social media content, that not only shares valuable industry insights but also addresses the key consumer needs, brands can take their customer relationship management to a whole new level.