How does social media affect trust and your brand?

By Contributing {grow} Columnist “Social Steve” Goldner

You want successful social media marketing for your company or brand?  Think “Trust Marketing.”  You can say you heard it here on the {grow} blog first.

In 2009, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith released their book Trust Agents.  This book focused on trust as it relates to influence.  In other words, brands need to identify the people that they want on their side.  This is extremely important and digital influence and outreach is a key service that I provide in the social media practice I head up at MediaWhiz.

But I am talking about something different here.  Brands need to work on building their own customer trust as well.  When you look up the meaning of trust you’ll see it is defined as “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.”

Stop and think of your brand’s position.  What do the people inside your company say … and what is the actual perception outside of the company?  Trust Marketing is about delivering “integrity, ability, and surety” on your brand position.  Trust Marketing is also about enhancing the customer experience such that your customers have “confidence” in your brand.

So how does social play into the scheme of Trust Marketing?  Social media presents the opportunity for a brand to reinforce what they are about.  Take your brand position.  (I hope you and everyone at your company know specifically what it is.)  Is that position reality or just some well crafted advertising slogan?  In today’s digitally social world, everyone knows the difference between the two and many talk.  Does the social voice and what people say in the digital world support your position as defined by your company or negate it?

I’ve mentioned the following a number of times on my SocialSteve Blog … I once had a boss that said to me, “Steve, you’ll be no good in marketing.  You are too honest.”  That always motivated me to work with the product team to deliver the best damn product our target segment could get.  To deliver meaningful and differentiated value and benefit.  Then, market and promote the brand and the value the brand delivers to its customers.   This is the essence of a solid marketing foundation.

As a marketing executive facing a world of massive digital participation, I see greater opportunity for marketing to be an important aspect of changing customer behavior to drive transactions.  Social media provides strong channels to continuously communicate the important attributes associated with your offering and quietly align your brand with those factors important to your audience.  This is the distinction between advertising marketing and trust marketing.

I always think back to a marketing effort that is often used in B2B — the production of a “white paper.”  A white paper is an informative two- or three-pager that states a problem and then a solution for a problem.  The problem it addresses is typically one that is often experienced by the brand’s target audience.  After the solution is stated, the communication softly states “if you are experiencing a similar challenge, talk to one of the representatives regarding how we can help,” or something similar in nature.

I suggest the same guidance for Trust Marketing.  Use your social media channels to consistently deliver value to your audience.  Address issues that are prevalent to your audience.  Do not use your social media channels to sell, but continue to associate your brand with the advice and information you provide.  The mere relationship between the content you provide and the identity of your blog, social network, community, Twitter, etc. is the opportunity to reinforce what your brand stands for.  It is a long term effort.  You need to emphasize knowledge of issues and prove you can provide benefits and solutions.  This creates a trust between brand and customers.

If you want to produce a strong brand-customer bond, one that goes well beyond a single purchase transaction, start to think about the activities to engage in building a strong trust.  Think Trust Marketing.

Steve Goldner is the Senior Director at MediaWhiz where he leads the social media practice. Steve has been a marketing executive for the past 20+ years and engaged in social media for the last four. You can follow him on Twitter @SocialSteve and visit his blog at http://socialsteve.wordpress.com

 

Illustration: “Trust Me” a very cool art installation by Steve Lambert

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  • Nice Steve!  I love your analogy to the “White Paper”.  Isn’t it amazing that some things never change.  I find it humourous  that everything we talk about relative to influence, trust, approach etc. has always been the norm (or at least the suggested norm), the only difference being the delivery vehicle. 

  •  Steve spot on … it comes down to the fact the way people deal with people has not changed in hundreds (maybe thousands) of year.  Often, when new technology (delivery vehicle) emerges, we forget that.

  • This is an excellent thought, ”
    quietly align your brand with those factors important to your audience.”  I’m going to think on this a little more.  Important to you audience is the key!

    Thanks Social Steve!

    Ryan H.

  •  Thanks Ryan – much appreciated.

  • Steve, thank you for sharing your sheer genius. It is true that Social Media is the name of Trust, Conversation and Engage your target audience. I’m a Social Media Marketer but 98% invitation I revived having focus only at numbers not at the conversation. Shared across my social networks so maximum people can take benefit.

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  • For me, this says it all: “Do not use your social media channels to sell, but continue to associate your brand with the advice and information you provide.  The mere relationship between the content you provide and the identity of your blog, social network, community, Twitter, etc. is the opportunity to reinforce what your brand stands for.  It is a long term effort.”

    It is critical that we focus on providing quality, actionable content and advice to our clients and followers. It IS a long term effort — and those that rush in, and do nothing but push and sell will burn out quickly. If you look at each post, article, tweet or pin as a way to provide value to your audience, you are building a foundation that will remain intact years to come.

    That doesn’t mean everything has to be all serious though! Building a foundation is about building relationships more than anything. A big part of that is allowing your personality to shine through — let your audience see your human side! 🙂

  •  Tara – totally agree!  Thanks and best, Steve

  •  I always say, “build relationships and measure.”  You can measure relationships by looking at awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy … an article for another time … maybe my next guest post here.

  • Jonathan Patrick

    Trust is the determine factor. A friend taught me that “trust takes the longest to build, but can be the quickest to lose”.

  •  Heard that quote before.  Absolutely!

  • I am totally stealing “surety”. You really have to look at your product and can you honestly say it’s exactly what your marketing says it is. If you don’t have faith and confidence in your brand, neither will a consumer.

  •  Yes – thanks CSE.

  • Great stuff! But aren’t we still “selling”  even if we wrap it all up in “advice and information” ?  

  •  Hi Jon – thanks.  No – if advice and information are about a specific category, not product, it is not selling.  Best, Steve

  • If you’re really serious about your long term business result then you must focus on Trust Marketing, It does take time but results are long lasting and build your reputation among your competitors. 

  • True.

  • Laura Bristow

    Hi Steve,  Thanks for this post. There are a couple of things that stood out to me, namely:
    “Use your social media channels to consistently deliver value to your audience.” and “quietly align your brand with those factors important to your audience.” I think you have really identified the best ways to use social media to PR’s benefit. It is not enough to just push out packaged brand messaging via Twitter or Facebook  etc , there needs to be acknowledgement of the audience’s values and interests. In that sense, more time spent on finding out ‘who’ your audience is will always be worthwhile. Social media should not be just a dumping ground for tidbits and ads, there needs to be a dialogue between organizations and their publics.

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