Trust can be described by the Trust Equation, where T stands for trustworthiness-how much the buyer/client trusts the seller.
C stands for credibility--speaks to words and credentials. R is for reliability-how others perceive the consistency of our actions. I is intimacy-how secure or safe the client feels sharing with us.
The lone term in the denominator-and therefore the most powerful factor in the equation--is Self-Orientation. Partly it's about selfishness. Are we client-centric for the sake of the client? Or client-centric like a vulture?
But mainly the S-factor is about whom you're paying attention to: yourself, or the customer? If you're self-conscious, self-critical, self-absorbed, self-focused, and self-congratulatory-then you're simply not there for the customer. And the customer equates that with not caring. Nothing is a stronger determinant of trust, because this is how we sense if the seller actually cares about us-or about themselves.
For someone using social media to sell, this creates some problems, and some opportunities.
Problem one-it's hard to fake it. If your self-orientation really is high, then you're going to have a hard time pretending it isn't. "Hi, wanna network?" is not that far off from "Hi, wanna have sex?" Both are just a little too blunt given the social norms that govern most human interaction. Brevity is a virtue online-but not at the expense of civility.
The best way to be guaranteed that you're perceived as trustworthy is to actually be trustworthy. That means caring about the customer, rather than the sale.
Which leads to problem two. Online media are closely allied to a larger business movement toward business processes-break things up into pieces, quantify them, code them modularly, set up incentives and data collection routines and then outsource them.
Trouble is, such an approach to business inevitably leads to some reductive, final-principle goal-basically return on investment. So we get pay-for-leads, quantitative measures of sales efficiency, rushes to qualify leads and screen out low-probability prospects, and tweaking targeting hit rates.
It's awfully hard to make a customer feel like you care about them when everything you do seems to be geared toward digitizing and quantifying their share of wallet to fit your process.