by Tom Vanlerberghe
Social media have made it quite easy for companies to reach out to their customers, but with it, it released a whirlwind of social media-spam. In blog comments, Twitter follows and DM's, Facebook messages,... If I got a dollar for every 'Nigerian money scam', 'get a free laptop' or 'earn $10,000 a week', I could probably retire.
Social media enables you to build a relationship, one that's more profound than a consumer giving money in return for an item and the company saying thank you. And like in any relationship, building 'trust' is essential. Look at how the Belkin review scam turned out, or how the responses of the Ryanair employees where perceived. It takes a lot of time to earn trust, but you can lose it in a split second.
Why is trust so important? Because you're not only convincing your customer, but also all of his friends and their friends. With social media, there's a huge ripple effect that a lot of companies ignore instead of trying to benefit from. Customers have a voice and because the tools are so easy to use, that voice has gone global.
Seems weird that in a world where companies can reach out more easily than ever before, a lot of them still struggle to find a good way to use them. Most of them think they communicate on a many-to-many level but do it in a one-to-many way. Meaning they force 'trust' upon their customers instead of building a trustworthy relationship with them, talk with them, interact, create proper channels that work for your company where they can be heard.
Using social media and building trust:
Take your time. Don't rush into the social media trend too fast. Learn how to use every tool, what are the pro's, what are the cons? You'll find out that you don't have to use every tool there is.
Focus. Though the tools are easy to use, building a relationship takes time. So instead of trying to use a zillion tools, focus on just a few. You might not get the quantity you like, but you'll definitely get the quality and guess what's more important when you try to gain trust?
SWOT before you act. If you're really convinced you found the right tools, analyze them and pay a lot of attention to 'threats'. Try to find out everything negative than can happen when you use this tool. If you're prepared with enough 'when-shit-happens'-solutions, you won't stress when the time comes and you have to counter them.
Talk. Interact, listen, talk,... People love conversations, why do you think social media became so popular in the first place? Listen, learn, respond, the trust building trinity.
How do you think companies can help building trust? Or how they can regain trust? There's no masterplan, but we can all learn from others' experiences or examples.
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