40 Ways to Build Trust in Your Brand on Social Media

Posted By on Feb 9, 2011 | 12 comments


In the new economy there is one major truth that stands above the rest. Trust equals revenue. If you are a small to mid-sized business or organization it is the amount of trust you can build between people that strengthens your brand. Whether we are talking about donors or customers,  it is about building trust that filters into an integrated marketing system with digital and traditional tools. THAT is where the true success is found within the marketing world.

With trust comes happy people and with happy people come referrals or what we call advocacy at MindFrame. Trust is a fundamental block of building your brand. Marketing is built under the assumption that stories can create an emotional bond between a consumer and a brand… a client and a service. Can you tell a story… create a service and/or an experience that builds trust?

Digital marketing can help you build that trust.

1. Content

Content is the number one way you can build trust with potential clients. By creating meaningful and thought provoking content you are building a bridge to later sell that person on your services.

2. Tell A Story

The stories surrounding your company or organization are the only thing that creates differences between the competition. It is extremely important that you allow for your consumers to tell the story for you. The people who love what you do… and the people you serve… are the best to tell the story of your company. Forget about mission statement and vision statements… ASK your consumers.

The nonprofit industry should be the best at telling their story… they live it on a daily basis! Tell the story. Feed the aspirational ideals of the people involved in your brand… then you will see results.

3. Transparency

This can also pertain to content or how you use a specific social network. Be human. The people who are interested in your thoughts and suggestions want to know about you as a person. They could care less about a sale you are having or the amount of money you can cut off their bottom line…. to an extent. They want to know how you helped LARRY the plumber or Susan the account.

They want to know how you changed the lives of an individual just like them. Again, tell the story.

4. Picture of Your Day

When you are using social networks make sure you put up pictures of your daily life. If you have a cell phone with a camera takes some pictures of your daily routine and share them with your connections. Just don’t over do it. We can only look at so many professional business or glamor shots in a day.

This also feeds into the aspirational aspect of the nonprofit industry.

5. Picture of You

Use your real picture. I don’t know how many times I have said this. Don’t use your logo. There is only one exception to this rule. If you are usingTwitter for your business and personal (see my company MindFrame for an example). Also, do not use a glamor shot from the 1908s. We ALL know you are lying… the only person you are trying to fool… is yourself.

6. Saying Thank You

If somebody helps you share information or decideds to retweet a post.. make sure you thank that person. They are helping you spread the word… they are your online evangelists.. If you miss a thank you.. don’t let it kill you.. but try to make the most of the people that help you out.

This is (of course) possible for a small organization. However, for the larger organizations… make sure you thank the people who are truly involved in the process.

7. Do Not Auto-DM on Twitter

See my post… I hate Twitter Auto-DM

8. No Hard Selling… Ever

I don’t care about your e-newsletter, the new lotion you are selling, or year-end campaign. Also, just because I reply to a tweet or a message does not mean you can message me back and sell your wares. Social media is a long sell process. You are developing content in order to gain an order of trust with people in your area of influence. We are now experiencing a relationship driven economy… get on the train.

9. Time is Important

Remember that you are building relationships.. do not trust the people that tell you to add 1023920 friends and make $10,000 a month. It is a load of crap. Build your following slowly… create relationships in an online environment that can be transferred offline.

And remember to integrate as much as possible. Try to pull your Twitter and Facebook followers to your email newsletter or direct mail campaign.

10. Criticism is Important

You will be criticized. It is the truth of open communication. Take it with stride and respond. If you are debated… make sure you respond. Stand up for what you believe and you will gain trust with the people who are listening…. and watching.

11. Have fun

Good Lord… is it that hard? You have the ability to connect with thousands… and thousands… and thousands of people from every nationality… and life experience. Just imagine your ability to expand your knowledge base and learn?!

One thought: If you are not enjoying and having fun with what you do… quit… go find something else.

12. Send a Handwritten Note

People are thanked on a daily basis through social media. If I need someone to thank… I usually send them a message or an email. It is very rare that I will get a thank you card in the mail from someone on social media. Talk about building trust and setting yourself apart!

13. Guest Post on Another Blog

There are times when you can write different posts for other blogs in order to reach a new audience.  It will help you build trust and brand awareness if your content is shared on other sites other than your own blog. This shows other people believe in your content.

Also, you have the ability to connect with another group of people… that is power.

14. Send Out Random Surveys to Your Clients and Readers

There are plenty of sites that have services for survey design and distribution. It is important that you ask your readers and clients to contribute to the business planning process through social media. It is important that you know what they are thinking… you also want them to understand you care.

15. Be Aware of Your Search Engine Rankings

If a client or potential client is researching social media and your name is ranked for the search terms… you are building trust. Check out Slingshot SEO if you are wanting some help in the world of search engine marketing.

16. Comment on Other Blogs

Comments on blogs and websites allow for your name and ideas to be spread at a faster pace. This is old news in terms of marketing on the Internet… it is known around the world that if you post comments… you will receive more traffic. Post 1-2 a week on your favorite blog.

17. Get Involved in Your Community and Share on Social

Community development and participation is key when building a business. It is the community whether online or offline that drives business for every small business owner. Get involved in your community and share your involvement on social media. This could mean that you share a picture of attending a fundraising event on Twitter or Facebook. You can also get involved with Causes via Facebook.

18. Be Responsive in Your Social Media Use

From the Science of Building Trust in Social Media post from Mashable:

Olson finds that when only text is available, participants judge trustworthiness based on how quickly others respond. So, for instance, it is better to respond to a long Facebook message “acknowledging” that you received the message, rather than to wait until there’s time to send a more thorough first message. Wait too long and you are likely to be labeled “unhelpful,” along with a host of other expletive-filled attributions the mind will happily construct.

It is important to remember that being responsive is huge. When a problem is happening on social media… it is happening.. NOW.

There is still a debate on whether social media content changes a perception of a brand to the consuming public. Whether or not the sales data changes it is still important to build out a costumer service model for your company or organization’s social media consumption.

19. Do Not Over-share Your Content

We want to know what you are doing but we REALLY don’t what to know what you are doing…. does that make sense? There is only so much content you can share on a daily basis. Unfortunately there are no true laws (or rules) that apply to each social networking site. In my book Twitter Marketing for Dummies, I write about the 4-1-1 rule… for every six pieces of content you share (4 should be from other people, 1 should be your content, 1 should be content from your industry).

20. Be Findable

It is important that your social profiles are findable when an individual is searching for you whether through Twitter or Google. Check out this presentation by Erin Caldwell about being findable online.

21. Create a Facebook Group for Your Circle of Trust

We all have a circle of people that we trust to network and drive leads to our business. I have a set group of 10-15 people that I ask constantly for leads and I help them bridge connection for sales and business development. Create a Facebook Group to help drive 24/7 conversation between the group. It is important to create deeper and meaningful relationships with your core supporters.

You must first understand the new functionality of Facebook Groups. David Armano has a great post on the Harvard Business Review describing the new Facebook Groups.

22. Develop a Clear Message for the Digital World

According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer Survey for 2011, brands and companies need to develop a clear message and then get internal and external “experts” to convey those positive messages. These experts need to be popular enough that their posts will be discoverable by consumers doing brand/product/giving searches. Thus, building relationships with influencers has become even more important for brands/companies/organizations.

23. Start Thinking about PlayList Marketing

We now function in The Playlist Era where people choose only what they want most and not “shop.” Instead, they choose from personalized options presented based upon a relationship that has been created, valued and reinforced.

Accordingly, we have all learned to associate those options (products and services) with a brand. Psychologists call this activity “framing” and the brain doesn’t let go of this brand-object and -service association; once framed, we believe it has no substitute.

24. Understand Who, Not How Many

The world is full of informational clutter: incoming messages, choices, features, needs and media. And with this wealth of information comes a poverty of attention. While we can’t change this environment, we can adapt. To do so, we ask “who and why?” instead of “how many and when?”

People aren’t just households in a segment, but are individuals with unique needs, motivations, interests and passions. They only become committed, loyal advocates and a part of what you do when they see your organization’s mission as necessary.

25. Invest in Your Website

Your website/blog is the (or should be) the central point of all of your communication. You want your website to be the focal point for your lead generation or donor generation needs. Do you have a content management system that works for your company? Do you have necessary lead capture tools to filter the visits to your site? If you answers no to both of those questions… do two things… find a new web design company and invest some money in your online brick and mortar!

26. Share Your Plans with the World

Rohit Bhargava says it best on his post, “Building Trust: 6 Ways to Get People to Believe You Online,” when he says:

If you think about your relationships in real life, when people share more about what they are thinking and planning to do, you feel more involved with them. Giving the inside story is a great way to build trust.

27. Focus on the Community of Content Instead of the Technology

We have talked about content being king in the world of the Internet. It is important to focus on the people who can create the content for you in order to further your message in the online space. Having a good foundation of content and people are key to your social media and digital marketing success. Your community of content is where you focus on the story instead of the technology.

28. Use Passive and Active Communication

There are two types of communication models that can be used in the social media space; passive and active content. Be sure to build out content that have to do with both types of communication.

The greatest strength of social media in terms of building long-lasting trust is that the two way communication can be passive as well as active, and between any two individuals sitting at the opposite corners of the world. The key is, people should listen, assimilate, and then respond accordingly.

29. Advise. You Probably Should Sell.

Previously, we talked about hard selling being a no-no and I wanted to tack on one more juicy bit of information for you. Instead of selling wares… become an advisor to the masses that are interacting with you and your content. Advise on the right way to do things and teach people instead of… sell people.

30. Use Rewards to Engage Customers

It is possible to use, track, and execute on exclusive coupons for consumers of retail and service businesses. This is for the consumer who has taken the time to interact with your brand on social media. Give people a reason to keep interacting (on top of content).

31. Respond Magnanimously to Negative Comments

Women Grow Business said it best in their post about building trust:

Remaining silent or appearing defensive does more harm than good. Respond graciously, see if there is something you can do to fix the problem. Many times there is a solution and your complainer will appreciate a listening ear and an understanding heart.

32. Be Stupid

The world of social media is changing so rapidly that it is going (and is) hard for all of us to keep up! It is okay to be stupid and take chances! If you do not know if an idea or a piece of content is going to relevant to your followers… share it anyway. You may be presently surprised.

33. Promote Partners with Your Content

Starbucks taught us all that sharing other types of content on your network is the key to brand development. Their Starbucks Digital Network has been a breeding ground for music, documentaries, educational material, and their in-store product education. Howard Schultz said this about the Starbucks revolution:

“If you give a customer an understanding of what your values are, and they share those values, and they believe it, they will pay a premium.”

34. Use Tactical Transparency

From Fast Company:

Tactical transparency means the use of social media tools to let brands talk authentically about their products and services to their community. It’s a behavior as well as a philosophy. You do not have to have full disclosure around your brand or organization to have authenticity or breed trust, but you do have to show your audience that you are listening and that you are in the places online, at Facebook, MySpace, et cetera, where they already spend their time.

35. Use Articles instead of Ads

Ads (whether banner ads or newspaper ads) have led to distrust in the consuming public. Write articles and reviews for publishers. We are talking about your expertise and some promotion on networked blogs, magazines, and newspapers.

36. Use LinkedIn Recommendations

Recommendations are a form of currency in the world of LinkedIn. The same concept applies to connections you add to your resume to build legitimacy to what you are claiming.

37. Always Keep Your Promises

Remember that there are two typs of promises you make as a business owner or business professional. You have the promise of your brand and the reputation your brand has in the marketplace. You must display the two promises in the content that you are sharing. If you are professional brand with esteem and hundreds of years behind your belt… create content that reflects that promise and reputation.

38. Set High Permission Standards on Your Email Marketing

Ana Lucia Novak says it best:

Never try to trick people into opting in for certain things. You need to get clear permission to send out everything you want to through your email marketing campaign….Lastly, require all new subscribers to confirm their decision to opt in through a second action. This could be done by instructing them to click on a confirmation link located in your first email.

39. Remember Transactional Assurance

The AimClear Blog says it best about cart abandonment and building instant trust and credibility:

Did you know 70% of people abandon shopping carts online, mostly because of lack of trust?

“Trust symbols are powerful. They work.” If you have trust badges, display them prominently on your site (not just your checkout page) above the fold, where people can see them and feel reassured. Also, make your payment methods visible everywhere on your site.

40. Remember the Definition of Trust

Trust can be defined as a firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing. Also, remember that trust is the condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed in something.

Trust can be a powerful thing if built the right way in the world of interactive, digital, and social media marketing and development. It is the true source of a happy customer, donor, and constituent.

  • Barry Deutsch

    Kyle, outstanding article with so many great ideas, I'm overwhelmed. You nailed the issue when you talk about trust being the core issue. In our e-commerce business, we've discovered that buyers first want to spend time getting to know you well, such as attending your free webinars, downloading your free content, listening to your podcasts, commenting on your blog – long before they'll ever buy. You're right that hard sells turn off future buyers in the social media space. The key is striking the balance between trust/engagement and guiding people to make an informed buying decision. At some point you've got to have a call to order.

    Good example – is having a pop-up on your site for first time visitors to buy your Twitter book an element of first building trust or hard selling? Just a thought?

    Barry Deutsch
    IMPACT Hiring Solutions http://www.impacthiringsolutions.com/blog

  • joelwolfgang

    This is absolutely fantastic! Kyle great post. I'm a tad overwhelmed by the amount of content.

  • jbledsoejr

    Awesome list Kyle! Point #21 (Create a Facebook Group for Your Circle of Trust) is a new concept to me. I believe in "Mastermind Groups" and have utilized some offline, but never even considered using Social to create a similar type of group online. The 24/7 conversation takes it to another level. Thanks for sharing!

  • Erin Kinzel

    Lots of good stuff here. It's too much for me to digest at this moment, but I was once given great advice about attending conferences that I'll apply here. A mentor told me to find one or two great ideas that I can implement right now – latch on to those, implement them, and then go back to your notes to see what else there is. I will definitely return to this in the future and will use it as a resource to share with others. Thanks!

  • http://www.want2growmktg.com Jennifer Gerlock

    Fantastic article! I especially love this one: Picture of Your Day "When you are using social networks make sure you put up pictures of your daily life." Never thought of that one. Really happy to have discovered your blog. I'm an instant fan and subscriber…

  • Connie Clark

    Lots of great ideas here and very appreciated. As one who has been working on Marketing non-stop this past month (with still much to do), these are some great takeaways! Thanks for posting!

  • markharai

    These are all great tips Kyle… The one that stuck out in my mind tonight: #24. Understand Who, Not How Many

    People and/or brands getting started in social media really miss the quality over quantity value proposition… A tremendous amount of time is wasted not knowing and understanding this.

    Cheers to you for this post : )

  • http://JumpScan.com Phil Davis

    Wow… you certainly practice what you preach! This is like reading Cliff notes on social media best practices. Thanks for the invaluable gift of your time and expertise.

  • dasmtm

    Brilliant. As a #twitterlearner I read your blog with interest and will adopt your principles. Thank you.

  • http://www.event-ideen-schenken.de mitch

    Nice tips here :)

  • Pingback: Telling Your Story – Part 1: Does Your Audience Trust You? « B R A N D T A L K

  • http://www.google.com/ Valjean

    THX that’s a great asnwer!

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