Building Brand Trust on Social Media [#SMTLive Recap]

Recently, on #SMTLive, our weekly Twitter chat, we hosted a discussion on how brands can build trust with their audiences, and why trust is so important in the modern, evolving digital landscape.

Trust, and building effective brand relationships, is becoming a bigger focus amid shifting attitudes to key social issues, and a rising reliance on eCommerce for shopping. On the former, according to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer report, less than half of people now trust that their institutions will do what’s right, with growing skepticism around financial motivations and other influential factors that can change government and regularity decisions.

On the latter, as reliance on eCommerce grows, consumers need to know that they’re going to get what they pay for online, and that comes down to brand reputation, and established relationships. 

These shifting trends intertwine, and will impact on your brand and marketing approach – but how will that change your strategy, and what are other digital marketers doing in this respect?

Here’s what our #SMTLive community had to share on the subject.

Leading the Way

We started our chat by asking what brands our friends consider trustworthy and why.

This rang true for every brand mentioned – the “Why” was deemed any brand’s most valuable asset. Brands that have a clear mission give their consumers a clear reason to engage with them and show a direct impact their purchase makes.

Many brands on the list had more commonalities: relatability and consistency

Action can no longer be a one-time contribution to a noble cause with a vague connection to a brand – people expect a consistent and long-term commitment from brands to a cause that makes sense. Devoting themselves for social impact, rather than mere profit, helps brands build and maintain authenticity. Authenticity, in turn, helps brands build strong relationships with their audience and gain a softer cushion to fall on when something goes wrong. Authenticity makes brands more human and humans are allowed to make a mistake or two. 

Increasing Trust

It can be a long process to build trust with consumers, especially for new brands. What if you don’t have the advantage of having been around for a while? We asked #SMTLive participants whether they’ve ever trusted a brand shortly after they discovered them on social media, and what contributed to the sense of trustworthiness. 

Technology has evolved rapidly, setting high expectations for how brands present themselves. High quality, clear, and on brand imagery and tone help brands set themselves apart from competitors, while also creating a sense of transparency. 

Responsiveness and customer service were also mentioned multiple times. Interactions on social media, as well as how customer complaints and questions are handled in the online space, set a strong impression of brands for potential audiences. Research shows that people who receive customer service on Twitter, for example, prefer those brands up to x3 more than other brands. 

On the other hand, there are things that can also hurt brands through social media. Spoiler alert: Customer service is the main deal breaker.

In short, social media is a place to build connections. Your consumers are no longer passive receivers – they are either your friends and superfans or they are your skeptics.

Personal connection is part of authenticity, which comes through real conversations, responses, and personal approach to individual complaints and questions. Cold messages, links without any context and ghosting altogether are a way out of your audience’s heart for good.

Prioritizing authenticity is no easy task, however, and it can take a lot of time and dedication. 

Key Challenges

We have a feeling that you’ve experienced at least one or many of these. Luckily, you’re not alone. Some of our struggles include:

So if you want to take anything away with you, let it be this:

Thank you for being part of our discussion – we learn so much from you, and we hope to see you at our next #SMTLive chat (Tuesdays 12pm EST (11am CST, 10am MST, 9am PST, 5pm GMT).

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