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anita-campbell

Anita Campbell

CEO of Small Business Trends

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How Social Media Will Help Build Trust

October 10, 2014

Trust leads to customer loyalty. It’s how we get customers to stay with us over time, renewing contracts and not abandoning us.

Trust leads to customer loyalty. It’s how we get customers to stay with us over time, renewing contracts and not abandoning us. Trust leads to add-on sales and customers buying more and paying us more money. Existing customers are typically more profitable than bringing on new customers all the time. And positive word of mouth that results from trust helps attract additional customers, so it can aid your lead gen efforts.

Trust is not just a feel-good concept. There’s real ROI from building trust.

And social media can play a role in building trust. Often we think of social media as a way to drive traffic to websites, or build brand awareness or as another channel for marketing communications. It can serve those (and other) purposes, but one of the best outcomes with social media is how it can build trust in customers and the general public that ultimately adds to your bottom line. Let’s look at five ways social media can build trust.

  1. Humanizing your company

    You’ve probably heard some version of the saying, “People do business with people they know and like.” So how do you get people to know you and your business better? How do you get them to “like” your business and the people in it – not as in clicking a “Like” button, but truly liking doing business with the company?

  2. Social media is ideal for humanizing a company. Consumers get to hear from and actually communicate with real people in a company. The businesses that understand how important it is to humanize a business go to great lengths to be personable. Employees identify themselves by name on social accounts. Informal and casual photos are often a part of social media. That too lends a human sensibility to a business. It’s hard not to like a business that shares images of the owner’s adorable dog or the team celebrating a birthday or company anniversary.

  3. Handling feedback in public

    Another benefit of social media is that companies have a chance to show they respond well to problems and negative feedback. Every business eventually is going to get some kind of critique from a less-than-satisfied customer or member of the public. One response is try to sweep it under the rug. That doesn’t make a great impression. Or you can respond calmly and with concern, showing you take criticism seriously. Don’t forget, sooner or later you also will get praise on social media. Someone will just love your product or think your customer staff are wonderful. Responding graciously will be seen by others. It’s an opportunity to show off your good side.

  4. Encouraging regular contact

    Sometimes customers can feel isolated from the companies they do business with. If there’s nothing wrong, they have no reason to call the company. In fact, most companies discourage customers calling customer support just to shoot the breeze! That leaves the occasional newsletter or perhaps sales calls. But sales calls can cause customers to be cynical and think the only contact you have with them is when YOU want something. Social media, on the other hand, gives you a way to stay in contact regularly in a low-pressure setting. You can communicate without actually wanting anything. Communicating regularly this way builds trust.

  5. Showing you’re a real company

    Large brands don’t have a problem with this, but many small businesses do. That is, with small companies that you’ve never heard of, a website visitor has little way of knowing how much substance there is behind a website. In fact, there are millions of shell websites out there. They are built to gain search engine traffic and don’t represent real businesses. But a business with social icons leading to its Facebook page or Instagram account or Twitter profile gives visitors something to check out to see who’s behind the website. If you’ve humanized your business on your social accounts, it goes a long way toward showing that yours is a real business and that they can trust your website and the people behind it.

  6. Educating to differentiate your business

    One way to differentiate your business from competitors’ businesses is to continually add value, over and above the product or service you sell. Solving problems adds value. Education adds value. When you provide educational material – content – to help solve customers’ issues, they will value your business more for it. In fact, that’s one of the tenets behind content marketing. And what better way to distribute your content, than through your social accounts?

    There are other ways to build trust through social media, beyond these five mentioned above. Does this give you a sense of the bigger picture around social media, and how it can make your company more valuable in the eyes of customers and the general public alike? And how it can make your company the trust provider in your market or industry?

This article originally appeared on www.inc.com/comcast.

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