Trust is a big thing, isn't it? With the emergence of social media there is now almost an expected transparency between your brand and consumers. Everyone feels entitled to know everything about your brand, and they expect a quick, personalized response for customer service issues. While brands have always needed to build trust, with social media trust is even more under the microscope and can easily be broken with one ignored tweet or one out-of-place message. So how can brands navigate trust issues with their consumers and proactively build a trusting community? These five tips will give you a place to start: [bctt tweet="Trust is critical to retaining consumers and building a better brand."]
If consumers sense that you show up as the same person, same brand, everyday, then they will be more likely to believe that this is, indeed, who you are. Know your brand personality and do not deviate from it no matter how tempting it seems. Brands that choose to shy away from their personality when real-time opportunity strikes often suffer rather than gain from taking advantage of a situation. While jumping on trends is a great tactic, it's not a good look if you jump on a trend that has nothing to do with who you are as a brand. Stick to who you are, and consumers will not only begin to trust you, but also find familiarity and comfort from your online presence.
My absolute favorite example of brand honesty is from when DiGiorno's made a mistake by jumping on a hashtag about abuse a few years back. You can read the full story here --> How To Survive A Social Media Crisis. Instead of firing the person who did it and immediately making up excuses, as many brands do, DiGiorno completely owned the mistake and owned the fact that at the end of the day its humans that are running social media accounts that are very prone to human error. This was a total win for DiGiorno because it built trust by showing they are not 'hiding' anything from their consumers. Full transparency allows consumers to feel like they are apart of the brand and, more importantly, allows them to relate to the brand on a whole new level.
[bctt tweet="Empower your consumers to have open, honest conversations with your brand."]
Don't be a brand that just says they'll follow-up and then completely forget about the consumer that reached out to you. Always, always follow-through with what you promise others online, and they will trust you indefinitely. You can even take it to the next level and proactively reach out to consumers that you know engage with your brand. If they had a customer service issue that was resolved a few months ago, check back in with them and make sure that issue is still resolved. It's incredible to see what going the extra mile can do for relationships between consumers and brands.
Enable Two-Way Conversations
Don't control the conversation. As tempting as it is for marketers to control every piece of information that goes out there, let the consumer drive for a bit. By empowering your consumers to have open, honest conversations with your brand, you are showing you trust them, which in return builds their trust in your brand. Letting your consumers drive the conversation can often lead to new ideas for your brand to execute on such as product tweaks, customer service changes, etc.
Avoid Cookie-Cutter Messaging
One of my favorite places to grab soup on the way home from work has consistently under-performed in the last few months. I hit the end of my rope with this brand last week. After a hectic Monday, I quickly picked up my bread bowl and when I got home, there was no bread bowl and only a small cup of soup left for me. Later in the week, I was super sick and my boyfriend picked up a bread bowl from the same place as I thought it was the only thing I'd be able to eat. When he got to my house, there was the wrong kind of soup in my bag which I couldn't eat due to an allergy. These are just two examples of numerous things that have happened at this location. I immediately reached out to the brand on social media, and heard back the next day with the most cookie-cutter response. Not only did it sound cookie-cutter, but when I visited their Twitter page there were a thousand other responses to people like me that were hauntingly similar. COME ON. Every interaction from that was completely staged, and made me feel even more devalued as a customer. Even though they provided me with a gift card, it will be quite awhile before I go back because I don't 'trust' that they even let the team there know what was going on.
Take the time to craft unique responses. Obviously you should have brand guidelines that help start the conversation, but make sure you add your unique brand personality to those responses so your consumers don't feel like another number. Making consumers feel like just another number in your day is a very easy, quick way to lose trust.
Trust is critical to retaining consumers and building a better brand. At the end of the day, trust will most likely be broken at some point and all you can do is be honest and work to rebuild it. In the meantime, though, you can use these tips to start creating a trusting environment around your brand that might even turn into something that will defend itself if/when trust is broken.
-Marji J. Sherman