Modern consumers are cynical, so developing trust with customers can be a challenge for businesses. Trust is the sum of repeated and positive interactions. Fortunately, social media makes it easy to engage your audience in meaningful ways at scale.
According to research by Edelman, 39 percent of people are unlikely to build an emotional relationship with a brand if they’re not engaged with it on social media.
Further, according to Visual Objects, 21 percent of people prefer to contact businesses on social media, second only to email. But they need to trust your company in order to contact it on social in the first place.
Certain types of content work best for building familiarity and trust with your social following, such as user-generated content and storytelling.
Here, we’ll highlight four ways to build trust with your customers on social media.
Leverage user-generated content (UGC)
Consumers trust other consumers more than they do brands by a wide margin. User-generated content (UGC) is any content originally posted by a follower that a brand then repurposes. UGC establishes social proof through leveraging the voice of your audience to endorse your products or services. UGC also allows your business to authentically demonstrate your product’s benefits, real-life applications, and showcase the lifestyle of your target audience.
When a customer champions your brand, audiences can imagine themselves achieving the same results. Because these posts aren’t branded, you generate trust while also encouraging purchasing in a way that branded posts cannot.
To acquire UGC, you can collaborate with users in advance or contact followers on a per-case basis.
Tell your story
Storytelling helps grow and secure your audience’s trust.
The more followers know about your company, the more reasons they have to be loyal. How did you start your company? What are your goals? What were some of your initial challenges, and how did you overcome them?
Develop a story arc, then strategically release tidbits on social media to attract followers and spark conversation around your brand. People connect emotionally with stories, so integrating narrative into your company’s story helps you build emotional connections with your audience. It’s critical to be authentic when doing so, as modern consumers are savvy to PR and phony messaging. Adopt a genuine tone and relate your narrative in a way that resonates with your audience.
Any misleading or spammy messaging can undermine your followers’ trust as well as your startup’s online reputation. For the best results, communicate your brand narrative visually in a way that hooks and retains your audience’s attention.
Transparency on social media develops your company’s reputation for trustworthiness. For example, when people share negative commentary or feedback about your company on social media, make sure to address it. While there are certainly circumstances where negative feedback isn’t warranted, acknowledging that customers are upset or unsatisfied with your products or services demonstrates that you care.
Use your social media channels to communicate any changes in your products or services as well. For example, any changes in pricing. These sorts of announcements are bound to be unpopular, but being transparent allows you to frame the conversation in your terms, and it doesn’t seem like you are trying to sneak anything past your customers.
Humanize your company
People love to see pictures of other people. Studies show that people’s faces are always the first and most-studied object on a web page. Use your social media profiles to feature your employees, both in and out of work. This helps customers to see you as a group of individuals, rather than a faceless organization.
To humanize your business on social media, consider posting:
Behind the scenes shots at your office(s)
Interviews with leaders within your organization
Examples of your corporate social responsibility
Buffer, for example, uses its Instagram to feature its employees in a fun way:
Social media allows you to remind users that your company is made up of people who experience similar daily challenges and experiences as everyone else.
People are increasingly aware of businesses’ impact on the world around them. In fact, a large majority of people shop at businesses that support issues they care about. Use social media to demonstrate and communicate your principles and commitment to social responsibility.
For example, Reformation used its Instagram to promote the amount of water, carbon dioxide and waste it saved in 2018.
Consider using your social media as a platform to provide additional insight about your company’s approaches to addressing issues like:
Ensuring that each of these areas are ethically sourced and maintained is important to modern customers. Use social media as your resource to communicate the values you maintain for each.
Build trust for your business with social media
Before you can secure the engagement and loyalty of your customers, you have to gain their trust. Trust is built on familiarity, so use your social media accounts to tell an engaging story about the core elements of your brand. Be candid and upfront with followers, helping them learn more about your company, its processes, people, and ethos.