You have trust issues. Perhaps yours is with dishonest government officials, a cheating (ex)boyfriend, or a backstabbing friend. Some trust issues are trivial, some are deep-rooted. Nevertheless, they do exist. We all have them. Trust issues. Yes. You. Me. And every single person in the World Wide Web (WWW). Especially every single person in the World Wide Web!
The foundation of every healthy and functional relationship is trust (I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!). Without trust, the relationships you build are superficial. Whether you’re trying to run for a seat in the government or trying to win someone’s <3, you’ll have to gain the other person’s trust in order to succeed and it proves to be a very difficult task. More so in the world of the Internet where everyone is made up of pixels, hidden behind html, and deprived of nonverbal cues. People have become distrustful of who and where the in the WWW information comes from. And this comes with very good basis.
With New Social Media around, the network of every single internet-user continues to expand. Now, our social networking accounts are practically extensions of our human relationships. To the brands and bloggers, it has become an extension of their customer relations efforts. The New Social Media has enabled brands and bloggers to infuse themselves in the networks of their consumers. But it’s not just the people’s networks that they want to break through; they want to be in their Circle Web of Trust.
Even if it’s seemingly impossible with the absence of face-to-face communication, building trust through computer screens is very much doable. New Social Media has provided this whole new platform where brands and bloggers can overcome trust issues to gain (or regain) consumers’ trust. But just how can it be done?
Tell a story. Your story! The idea of big corporations makes me think of profit-driven and power-hungry moguls while bloggers make me think of egotistic, self-proclaimed experts. If you put a human face, post your story, or upload a video on your website, you’re proving your readers that you are indeed human and not merely an avatar or a brand logo. Do not forget to add a touch of humanness. :)
Tell a TRUE story. Honesty is key to trust so do not make up stories and do not pretend to be anyone or anything. Don’t just tell any story. Tell a TRUE story. ;)
Be transparent and private at the same time. They say secrecy in this generation is obsolete, but that does not mean you shouldn’t protect information. A healthy balance between transparency and privacy will make consumers feel that you share information but are discerning when it comes to selecting the right pieces of information to post. They’ll feel that they know what they deserve to know, and you keep what you ought to keep. :)
Reply and respond. People trust brands or bloggers who respond to them. It shouldn’t matter whether their posts and comments are positive or negative. What matters is that you work on gaining their trust by making them feel that you listen to them, that you are available to them. So say thanks. Tweet back. Reply to your readers. :)
Be constant and consistent! Let your readers know that there is an actual living breathing person behind your website. Don’t let your page or website go stale. Update and keep your readers on track, but in terms of updating, always prioritize quality over quantity. ;)
Stop selling, start communicating! If you want to sell or promote something, then you are in the wrong media. In New Social Media, your goal is to communicate with your consumers and not bombard them with advertisements.
“Trust is earned and its stature is representative of our collaboration and contribution over time. If the Social Web is an ocean, trust funnels into distinctive and distinguishable rivers.”
By gaining the trust of consumers through New Social Media, brands and bloggers are fostering good online reputation. Fostering good online reputation increases referrability and fame in the WWW (conversely, both do not always guarantee good reputation). Referrability and fame broadens the brand or blogger’s consumer base. A broader customer base consequently opens up a greater sphere of influence for brands and bloggers. In short, trust is the building block. Being in people’s Circle of Trust is step one to influencing their decision-making.
Listeners have to trust the storyteller in order to believe in the story. Without trust, you won’t have listeners. And that’s what precisely what New Social Media is for. Listening. Without trust, you won’t be able to build meaningful relationships. Not with anyone.
What about you? How do you think can one build trust in the world of new social media? :)