by Kimberly Beer, Guest Blogger
Kim Beer Seminars & Midnight Productions (A BBB Accredited Business)
Building trust is one of the top goals in a good relationship marketing program. When you focus on creating trust and maintaining trust — you focus on making the relationship you share with your consumer as positive as possible so they feel comfortable buying from you the first time and every time. You also keep customers encouraged to share your business with their friends and associates as a reliable, trusted solution. Trust creates an environment that promotes three key sales success factors: conversion, longevity, and endorsement. To capitalize on these factors, you need to create a social media content marketing strategy that supports trust.
Social media is one of the primary elements you can rely on to build this type of trust in your consumers through marketing — especially that initial trust which happens before the first decision to buy occurs. It gives consumers a “preview” of the type of business experience they can expect to have with your organization.
Although, that seems kind of odd, right? That social media would build trust? Especially if you’re looking at any social media newsfeed right now. Social media is plagued with false stories, spam posts and the constant regeneration of posts that use scare tactics to conjure sharing … and then there’s the “trick” stories designed as “click-bait” which lead to nothing but popup ads sprouting out of your phone like poisonous mushrooms.
Trust seems to be the last thing social media should create.
Yet, for your brand, trust and social media go hand-in-hand. People inherently trust what they read online despite all the warnings, and blatant evidence, to the contrary. This is partly due to the relationships people have built online with friends and associates in places such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, email and more. Keyboards and smart phones are the new picket fence over which we share our lives.
Social media is rooted in building relationships. The relationships between one friend and another friend; the relationship between consumer and business; and, here’s the missing ingredient from most social marketing recipes— the relationship between the human experience and inspiration.
Consumers actively do research on things they want to buy, companies they want to hire, and concepts they want to employ. The large part of the focus in that research is to answer questions like: Is this a good company? Is this right for me? What are people saying about the company, product, service, cause? What are the benefits to me? How can this make my life better or satisfy a need? Can I trust this company?
Where do people go to get this information? Online, of course, where information is so readily available — Google, websites, ezines, and the like, are all there with the answers to their queries, reviews, and recommendations. Social media is a critical part of that online environment. In fact, social media makes a huge impact on consumer buying decisions. Which is why it’s such a hot topic and keeps me booked as a speaker!
In the past, I have had clients respond to my advice to create and maintain an active social media presence by saying they don’t want to participate in social media. I’ve also heard this same notion from attendees
at some of my workshops. Their reasons for wanting to avoid social media are varied, and some are even well-founded. It is annoying at times. It does consume a lot of your time. And, you do have to play by rules you may not like. There’s only one problem with ignoring social media marketing: their — and your — brand is participating in social media marketing with or without them (or you)! Thankfully, most business owners now understand this and so they want to build utilize social media to build a positive influence for their brand.
Since we all know we should be using it, this begs the question: why are so many people not using social marketing more effectively? My workshop attendees report regularly struggling with building a trustworthy, sales oriented online presence via social media and email marketing.
I think the disconnect comes in not knowing how social marketing truly works. Business owners are offered up a lot of strategy and tactics and recipes in classes, books, and workshops, but very rarely do those cover the true HOW to do it — or, for that matter, the WHY. A lot of the how comes in understanding the why of social media — why it works, why it is used and the way consumers rely on it to make purchases.
Let’s start with a simple face: social marketing is rooted in building relationships. This is the reason people come to social media outlets such as Facebook
— and it is what makes it effective as a marketing medium. Think of the typical relationships in social media: the relationship between one friend and another friend; the relationship between consumer and business; and, here’s the missing ingredient from most social marketing recipes— the relationship between the human experience and inspiration.
Social media draws on all three of these relationships concurrently making it of huge impact in that perfect storm that becomes the trust factor. Ask yourself this: if a friend or colleague or trusted business recommends a product or service you want, how much more likely are you to buy that product or service? Much more likely, right?
In other words, stop focusing so much on selling through social media or email and start focusing on people and building a trusting relationship. A solid relationship will hold and endure, where as a single sales experience may be fleeting and hard to duplicate.
Think, for example, of the three relationships I mentioned above …
A friend to friend relationship creates trust — and
desire — through social proof. If we know our friends are using or interacting or being inspired by a specific product, service, or cause, we will find that product, service, or cause more worthy of our attention. Before social media, this interaction took place almost exclusively in person — sometimes quite literally over the backyard picket fence, sometimes over a cup of coffee, sometimes at a party. Being online waters down the effect slightly, but it’s still very influential.
A consumer to business online relationship creates trust though visibility and consistency. If we see the businesses we have utilized or want to utilize on a regular basis, we, as consumers, are more likely to use that business. Think of this: if you drive past a grocery store everyday on your way to work, you’re really more likely to stop at that store. Convenience may account for part of that, but top of mind is also critical. That’s why we always hear about “location, location, location.” In the digital world, the same concept applies every time a consumer sees a business name cross their newsfeed.
The relationship between humans and inspiration is the medium by which the two previous relationships grow and interact. We, as part of the human experience, inherently want to be inspired. We want to have opportunities. We want to express ourselves. We want to be informed. We want both to pay attention and to be paid attention to. Businesses who understand this — who inspire, pay attention to, and encourage their customers are more likely to be successful.
Obviously, inspiration — along with expression and information — is important in this equation. But, how does that translate to your business and marketing?
In a word: content.
I know you’ve heard that word before. By now you probably realize that content is incredibly important. BUT, what the heck is it and how the heck do you use it?
Here is what I know: Most business owners have only a vague notion of how to utilize content and even fewer have any idea of how to create it or utilize it. If you’re one of these folks, you are definitely NOT alone. It seems “content” often falls into the realm of fairy dust — hard to even imagine let alone capture and use.
Let’s start with a broad definition: Content is the stuff you share to inspire your followers. Although it’s not fairy dust, it can be magic to your marketing.
To make it more concrete, we can replace the word “stuff” in our definition of content with any of a number of things: articles, blog posts, videos, white papers, tip sheets, how-tos. The list here is virtually endless. If we replace the “share” with the word “publish,” then that sentence may make more sense. Share is a word we tend to use with Social Media because “share” is a more social concept than “publish.”
It seems “content” often falls into the realm of fairy dust — hard to even imagine let alone capture and use.
As a seminar speaker, coach, and consultant to small businesses on their marketing, I can tell you without a doubt that “content” trips up a lot of people. Because they trip over it, they avoid it. Because they avoid it, they are not as successful in their online marketing.
Now, let me help you stop tripping over using content marketing as a tactic on social media and in your email marketing.
I want to drop back to the issue of trust for a moment before I go there, however. I would like for you to consider seven basic concepts for creating trust in social media marketing. They are:
- Relate at a situation level. Commiserate with customers on the catalyst that brought them to you in the first place. Empathize, seek to understand, and comfort them in their struggles and in the solutions.
- Demonstrate social proof. Share stories, testimonials, and case studies.
- Be transparent. Don’t hide the important information such as your phone number, buying processes, location, warnings, concerns, etc.
- Display confidence, but with humility. Don’t bash your competition, but do show thorough information and inspiration how your brand is set apart. It’s best if you do this with honesty, integrity, and the freest flow of information you are willing to provide. Know and share your statistics and numbers that can be verified.
If they’re different from the competition’s marketing, explain why.
- Follow-through and engagement. When someone responds, respond back. This is oddly enough one of the most overlooked and underutilized components of social marketing. Remember a digital relationship follows all the same rules as a physical one — if you don’t respond, it’s rude and will be construed that way.
- Have a guarantee — or barring that, a return/ refund policy. State it — and state it often.
- Enable your customers and staff as a community. Engage and empower the community you create to build, share, and further your business with ease.
Now back to the content …
You can use any of these concepts as a base for your content. Take any one of them and create or curate something that works for that concept.
Example: Be transparent. Create a post with your contact information that’s entitled, Just in Case You Need Us, We’re Here! Add your hours.
Example: Relate to your customers situation. Write a blog post about your experience when you were at the same place they’re at now.
Example: Social proof. Post or email a testimonial.
Example: Follow-up and engagement. Create an email or post responding to a question you answered for a customer that day.
Content does not have to be difficult. It also does not have to be original. You can share (curate) posts and blogs and videos, etc. that have been created by others but support your consumer base in understanding and being inspired.
One final piece of advice: Be consistent. Show up on social media regularly. Engage and respond regularly. Disappearing and then reappearing — or worse — not showing up at all is damaging to your social media marketing as much as it is to building trust. It’s not the end of the world, but every time you avoid creating content or stop creating content, it sets you back a little. SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Facebook’s algorithm, and more depend on consistency to maintain rank and presence on digital media.
Kimberly Beer is a marketing consultant, coach and speaker. Visit her online at KimBeerSeminars.com. She is conducting a FREE WEBINAR, “Marketing To Build Trust” for the BBB of Greater Kansas City on Wednesday, October 25th, from 11:30-12:30 PM. REGISTER HERE!