It seems like common knowledge that building and maintaining trust online would be much more difficult than in a face to face interaction, however with the increasing use of social media and electronic communications one can reach more people and build trust with far greater numbers than ever before.
Internet marketing experts agree that it is often 5 to 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to cross-sell your products to an existing customer. I believe this statistic stems from the fact that this approach necessitated repeated “touches,” such as making phone calls, sending emails, and providing company branding materials. These activities were part of the trust-building process. Now, using online marketing, and social media, any company can achieve similar results with less investment of time and money.
Here are 8 tips for using social media to build and maintain trust online:
1. Show consistency in providing information. People will trust you if they can rely on you to do what you say you are going to do. If you have people sign up for a monthly newsletter-provide it monthly. Show good customer service by responding to email, phone messages, and request for proposals quickly and courteously
2. Consistently provide original, helpful information specifically targeted to the needs and wants of your target population. By producing informative content and comments and speaking candidly, but respectfully, you can build your trustworthiness. Spend time contributing on only the social networking sites or online groups where your client’s or prospects dwell. Write for your own blog and post on other’s blogs with permission.
3. Provide information at no cost in multiple forms of social media on a daily or weekly basis. Offer a link to a white paper, eBook, or blog article. People respond when value is being provided for them. Offer a relevant quote, a link to an interesting article, a helpful comment on a blog article, or even a small message to someone can be very effective. There are article directories, industry specific online magazines; use sites like Digg and Articlebase where you can get increased visibility.
4. Speak candidly, honestly, and always seek to clarify communications online. Talking with others online should be treated the same as in-person conversations. Make sure you clarify expectations about the product or service to be provided. One word can mean two different things to the different people and we tend to not get or give as much detail when we use a keyboard.
5. Competence builds trust. Demonstrate competence in your area of expertise by writing about your approach, giving case examples of those you helped or testimonials about your performance and approach to your work on your website or blog.
6. If it is possible in your industry-let people know who you have helped, how long you have been helping them, and why they work with you. If you have achieved outstanding references, referrals and recommendations-use those testimonials in your branding efforts.
7. Only associate yourself with trusted brands and people. Remember you are judged by the company you keep. Also, regularly publicizing your charity work can help demonstrate your commitment to the community and will attract others with similar values
8. Give something of value. Provide advice, free trial periods samples, demonstrations, and articles at no cost that convinces the client they are getting value in working with you.
One thing is for certain; even online, building trust takes time and dedication. It has to be done step by step, should be integrated into the businesses systems and processes, and to be successful must be an on-going component of any successful business.
Using social media is not for everyone but if you decide to go with using it decide who from your company will be responsible and create a plan for the year. You can automate certain processes by using some paid and free online tools, like ping.fm to post to many sites at once. If you know that you will not have time to do this-then I recommend that you hire someone to post the information for you. Although, if you do hire someone to manage your campaign-I recommend that you give them some specific company information, maybe pulled from your company enewsletter, to post from time to time. Whatever you decide- remember that with the increasing number of people searching for products and services online conversations about your company or brand will happen online whether you like it or not, so why not be proactive with your social media presence rather than reactive?
Are you using social media to build trust with clients or prospects?
Are there steps your business takes to build trust? What has worked for you?
Are you reluctant to use social media? If so, why?
We’d love to hear about it. I encourage you to add to the discussion by commenting below.
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