8 Ways to Build Social Trust for Your Business

Social Media, Social Trust
Posted on Case Study, Educational, How To, Practical

What is social trust? Why do you need to build it and where do you start?

Have you ever walked up to, for example, a ‘Brand X’ inkjet printer salesperson in a store and asked “Which is the best value for money, long lasting printer I can buy today?” Almost every time they will do what they’re paid to do and suggest ‘Brand X’.

Now that’s okay, they’re supposed to do that. It’s their job – the problem is: you already know it’s their job. It’s their agenda and they’ve certainly wasted no time pushing the sale. So you take everything they’ve said with a pinch of salt and take your time with the purchase decision.

Now let’s change things up – you call up a friend who knows a lot about computers and printers and you ask the same question – Your friend says ‘Brand X’. The difference now is you’re feeling less of an agenda. You’re talking to a peer who has your best interests at heart. So the question is – How do we build trust with potential customers? How do we get customers to see us as peers rather than sales-people? And how do we use social media to do this?

I have put together a few dos and don’ts on how to build trust on social media. Some are fairly simple, but you’d be surprised at how often these are overlooked.



The 8 Ways to Build Social Trust:


1. Stop Selling

Stop trying so hard to sell all the time. Nothing screams salesperson more than hard selling and talking up your own product 90% of the time on social. If you build social trust, your consumers will do a lot of that talking for you. The trick is to build a community and build that trust & brand loyalty.


2. Listen.

A friend takes an interest, makes conversation, listens, and responds with advice or a desired answer. Work your interactions toward how a friend, with the users best interests at heart, would respond. Obviously all this must be kept consistent with your brand, voice and tone. Social listening is imperative if you’re serious about building social trust.


3. Build Authority

Make sure you’ve earned the right to call yourself an authority in your field. Know your industry and be open to sharing helpful information with your followers. People want to know they are taking advice from an expert, so keep up to date with the latest research and developments in your industry and share these insights.


4. Put IN Before You TAKE OUT

If you are serious about building social trust, produce great content that is helpful and useful to your followers. In other words, PUT IN before you expect to TAKE OUT.


5. Build Relationships with Your Followers.

Obviously you can’t do this with every single person, but I think you’ll find that most people aren’t expecting you to. For some, just knowing that you’re willing to do it with someone and that the interaction is visible, is enough. Don’t be afraid to match humour with humour:

Sainsbury's are on point with their humour.
There’s nothing fishy about Sainsbury’s sense of humour


6. Respond Quickly

65 percent of consumers on social media expect a response in under two hours (on Twitter). The reality is that only 20 percent of brands are responding within that time-frame – and there are real world consequences to this: 60 percent of consumers say they will take a negative action if they don’t receive a timely response on social media, including buying less, complaining on social, and telling their family and friends about it. All this affect the bottom line. A response that is visible, competent and timely can achieve the opposite and is some good press in and of itself.

Make lemonade.. It’s totally worth it:

Buffer know how to make lemonade.
Buffer show how it’s done after being hit by a spam attack


7. When You Sell, Do It Well

There is a time to self-promote, but do it well: While building a community and brand, trust is a major advantage of social media, it’s also a great medium for promoting your content, products, and services. You just have to do it the right way.

For starters, the majority of your tweets should be building up your trust score—being an authoritative commentator, being helpful, and creating that intimacy. Looking at your social feed is a great way to see how self-promotional you’re being. Are the majority of your tweets promoting your own content or products? Or are you interacting with followers and sharing third-party articles?

When it’s time to be self-promotional, do it well. Don’t be overly “salesy” or pushy. Be valuable and show your brand personality by using positive language. Just remember to consider the ratio of self promoting versus adding non-salesy value to your followers. Be clever, have good timing and be original.

Example:  During 2013 the Super Bowl within minutes of the power going out Oreo had tweeted their (now famous) “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet. A perfect example of clever, perfectly timed and very relevant self promotion.

Perfectly timed self promotion & humour adds to Social Trust
When Oreo won the 2013 Superbowl


A simple way to look at this and to keep a balance of the sales approach and adding value to build social trust is to reference Steve Rayson’s Social Media Trust Formula:

Steve Rayson’s Social Media Trust Formula
Steve Rayson’s Social Media Trust Formula


8. Embrace Criticism

Finally, don’t hide crit, but rather encourage reviews. There are loads of great reviews websites as well as visible page reviews on Facebook. If you are a customer centered business with a great service culture it certainly will reflect in the reviews on your page. This is some of the best trust-building ammunition around. However if you aren’t on-the-ball, and you get bad reviews, well then at the very least you have learned some valuable information about where you need to improve. Manage these reviews promptly and be helpful to your reviewer and you may well flip a 2-star review into a 5-star review. Check out what social monitoring and management tools there are out there to help you get this right. Reviews really are one of the most important ways to build social trust and a good reputation on social media.

It all comes down to balance. Remember always that social media is your way of maintaining a relationship with your client-base and the public. A relationship, like trust, is a two way street. Always show value first, something that has made an incredible difference in my approach to my work – and I hope it does the same for you.


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