You can’t deny that the modern-day consumer holds more power and control today than ever before. With countless channels to choose from for content consumption, consumers no longer need to suffer through endless ads hawking products they care very little about.
Instead, consumers are well aware that brands need to woo them – and win their trust – if a conversion is ever going to take place.
Brand trust is the key element in creating deeper relationships – the types of relationships that encourage those coveted repeat customers and referrals.
Fortunately for the modern-day brand, social media is the perfect medium from which trust can be built.
Step one: Understanding the social media trust formula
BuzzSumo Director Steve Rayson describes the social media trust formula as:
Breaking down authority
At the start of it all is authority. Think of it – you trust your parents as a child because of their authority. The same (generally speaking) can be said of teachers and police officers. We’re taught to understand their authority, so in turn we learn to trust them.
Socially speaking, this means delivering the type of content that your audiences are in search of and deem as something of value.
Simply speaking, that could mean something as simple as establishing a content-curation calendar, where you monitor and share high-quality posts from your influencers’ circle.
Take a look at a tweet we did here at Envision:
It’s fairly easy to pronounce Entrepreneur as an influencer in the world of business. Thus, we have added them to our list of influencers to keep tabs on. For the most part, we trust what they share on their social circles, and every now and again we’ll share their content with our audiences.
We recommend that you build a stable of at least 15 key influencers in your field to follow on social media.
But here’s a key to remember: don’t just share everything your influencers post. Firstly, you want to actually read through the content you intend to share, to ensure that it’s actually at the level of quality your audience deserves.
But secondly, you want to make sure you retain a consistent voice across social media. If your brand isn’t edgy, but a post on Fast Company is, it’s probably not in your best interest to share that post with your readers.
Beyond following your core influencers, you can also find high-quality content by:
- Accessing RSS blog feeds (like Feedly)
- Using hashtags and keywords
- Turning to a social media tool like Hootsuite or Buzzsumo
But in order to be an authority, you can’t just be a mouthpiece for others. Make sure that you also contribute to the conversation as well by producing your own high-quality content. Don’t just repurpose existing posts; offer your own unique perspective on a topic.
Offering up a bit of helpfulness
Here’s the thing about social media – it’s very social. We find way too many brands out there conducting a one-way conversation, and then throwing their arms up in despair when they don’t see the returns on their social investment.
If you want to build trust with your audiences, you have to respond to every single brand mention across every network. That, of course, requires you to closely monitor your social media accounts for mentions.
But keep this in mind: More than 30% of tweets don’t include a Twitter handle when mentioning a company.
This means that you may not ever get notified of a brand mention through the native Twitter or Facebook apps. That’s why it’s key to use tools like Sprout Social or Hootsuite to monitor all references of your brand name.
Here’s the key to remember about being helpful on social media: you don’t have to solve your user’s problem; you just have to acknowledge their complaint and direct them to the right channels.
Take this wonderful example from Litmus:
Building intimacy: Show the human side of your brand
Consumers aren’t idiots. They know that behind every big brand on social media is a team of social managers. Still, they prefer to deal with individuals, and not, necessarily, a faceless brand. FedEx does this wonderfully, as does social tool Buffer. Their support staff identify themselves within each tweet:
This not only helps humanize your brand, but it also makes it easy to hold your team accountable for customer complaints. In fact, social tools like Hootsuite allow you to assign certain tweets to your team, by name. That way (taking the above as an example) you know that Chalisse is responsible for Lyric’s complaint.
But adding to the intimacy is the ability to hone up to one’s mistake. This is a take on transparency, which modern consumers are wildly attracted to.
Take, for example, the following exchange:
Not only did Litmus take the lighthearted approach to this tweet, but it was signed by LS (that’s how Litmus personalizes their social shares – using the initials of each of their team members).
You also want to make sure your brand personality shines through with every comment/tweet you make. If you’re young, hip, and fun, make sure that shows through on social media. Using emoji’s and slang are effective ways of making that happen.
Lastly, there’s self-promotion
Self-promotion isn’t a part of the trust formula – it’s a byproduct of it. Building your trust score should be the primary purpose for using social media. Self-promotion should come sparingly.
When it is time to self-promotion, make sure you do it the right way. In other words, don’t oversell. Don’t be pushy. Show your personality and speak to your audiences like the human beings they are. Check out Wistia’s take on self-promotion:
Sure, they’re promoting their own content, but they do so with a hint of fun and personality.
What it all comes down to is humanizing your brand, and remembering that your audiences are human too. Engage in conversations, offer unique perspectives, and be relatable. All of this will help you build your brand trust and make it far more likely that your readers will gobble up all the content you share, including you self-promoting posts.