4 Steps to Building a Credible Online Brand
You're a brand. You're online. If you want to beat your competitors, you'll have to establish trust among your customers which is of course easier said than done. It takes time and patience to build credibility online but these four tips should get you started:
1 - Think Like a Woman:
Research from the Harvard Business School has shown that people want leaders who are less assertive (read: masculine). This is also true for brand leaders. Customers love brands that are expressive, loyal, flexible, patient, collaborative and reasonable. Empathy and vulnerability are no longer looked down upon but are seen as signs of humanness from a brand.
If you analyse each of these six traits, you'll be able to concoct a fair marketing voice that will help you connect with your customers.
2 - Encourage Frankness and Caring:
When talking as your brand online, it goes without saying that you shouldn't use any vulgar or abusive language. But where most brands miss out on is handling all kinds of feedback with respect. This includes positive as well as negative comments. Observe customers who are not satisfied with your services and help them out. Reach out to them and ask them for feedback. Most of the times, customers are just waiting to be contacted. By showing concern, you would already lessen their negative thinking about your brand. Next, do what you can for them. If you can't, don't be afraid to apologise. Always thank them for their time.
Have a comments section on your blog, encourage voting on your social posts and provide customer support through Twitter and Facebook pages. Make sure you open channels that you can monitor otherwise you'll have a lot of frustrated customers who never get a response from you.
3 - Share Relevant Information:
On its official website, the Coca Cola company has answered an FAQ: Is Coca Cola bad for teeth? Is this hurting their brand? Quite the contrary. There's no arguing that Coca Cola is a huge brand with thousands of loyal customers. Their Facebook page alone engages 71 million fans. Their honesty in sharing information is a plus for them.
Customers want candid conversations with brands and you can't establish trust without being honest about your business. Another example is the way companies promote their in-house environments by sharing photos of their employees at work. These may look like trivial details but they all help your customer visualise the personality behind your brand.
4 - Grow Your Network:
To become a leader in your field, you need to be the number one person people go to for professional advice. They may not be coming to your offices or having lengthy meetings with you, but through social media your customers can know a lot about your brand. Social media is about sharing. Share your knowledge as much as you can without losing advantage over your competitors.
Arm yourself with tips, how-to guides and e-books so your customers can know they can rely on you. Build trust among your customers by showing your competence, wisdom and influence. Also, create a community of your fans so that they can connect with each other through you. The more people you engage, the more thankful loyals you'll get around the world.
Online marketing opens up a lot of opportunities for marketing. But remember, as Erica exclaims in the movie "The Social Network", the web is written in ink, not pencil. Mistakes are seldom forgotten. So hire a cool-headed person as your social media manager who doesn't fire up at the first sign of trouble. Empathise with your customers and collaborate with them instead of imposing your thoughts. With social media, it is easier than ever to get feedback, respond quickly and open channels of communication. Lastly, grow your network with the right people so you can establish authenticity online.