Social Media requires business thinkers and leaders to start acting like small-town shop owners. They need to build trust with their customers because social networks have brought old-fashioned word-of-mouth recommendations back into fashion.
Trust is a key component when it comes to deciding whether or not to recommend a product, person, or business service. We still carry around images of pushy salespeople more interested in selling their brand rather than converting us into loyal customers. This is at the core of building trust with others-converting them so they want to share their experience.
Learn To Care About Others
Gary Vaynerchuk takes it a step further in his book, The Thank You Economy. He writes that social media demands the same ethics used by our great-grandparent's generation to build their own businesses. For many, this means unlearning much of how business has been done over the past few decades-less emphasis on sales quotas and more importance placed on treating each customer with care.
I learned a lot about building trust as an FBI counterintelligence agent. My job was to recruit foreign spies to work for the U.S. government. Spies are trained to believe that FBI agents are manipulative and can't be trusted. To crack this stereotype, I needed to convert the spy into looking at the FBI in a new way. And you know what? If my words and actions weren't genuine, it didn't work.
This meant building relationships by talking to people one-on-one and learning about their hopes, fears, and cares. It takes times to build trust because it's not all about getting something that only benefits us. Instead, it means that the other person must benefit as well. This is how word-of-mouth recommendations get started.
How Social Media Can Build Trust
Social networks allow us show our personality in a timely manner which can be a tremendous tool when building a business. There are several reasons why social networks are excellent ways to build trust if we take advantage of them. Here are a few to think about:
Remove barriers. Social networks make it easier for people from different backgrounds to interact with each other. Stereotypes are much more difficult to sustain on-line because you don't enter into a conversation with preconceived ideas about someone based on how they look, dress, or speak. You are solely responsible for your content. Thus, you are also responsible for your own reputation.
Encourage interaction. One-on-one conversations can happen on-line much easier and more frequently than meeting face-to-face. The more your audience gets to know you, the more trust that is built. As an example, I found that the targets of my investigations were cautious in their dealings with FBI agents. This is not surprising, but since my goal was to recruit and not to arrest them, I needed to find ways to engage them so they would come to better understand both my objectives and myself. Getting to know people is critical in building trust because this is how we discover each other's needs and cares. In the past this was time-consuming and more difficult-even awkward at times. Social media makes this type of interaction a snap.
Build relationships. We no longer need to search long and hard to find communities in which we can share our interests and cares. We can share news about ourselves and become friends. When prices are already at rock bottom, the only competitive advantage you may have is how well your customers like-and trust-you. Relationships are key to building trust. How is this done? By talking, listening, sharing concerns, and exchanging ideas.
Isn't that how a small-town shop owner would do it?