Social media provides small businesses with unprecedented opportunities to communicate with customers, market their brands and drive sales. Contrary to what many believe, however, true success takes more than a flashy Facebook fan page, clever “tweets” and widely distributed press releases. Most businesses mistakenly equate huge numbers of “fans” and “followers” or spikes in visitor traffic from a viral video with success. The truth is, long-term marketing success comes down to one vital element – trust.
Why Trust Matters to Your Business
It’s true that many businesses generate huge sales numbers without ever considering whether or not their customers trust their brand. But, without customer trust, there is usually no residual effect from sales. By building trust with your customers, you can create an army of brand evangelists who can grow your sales exponentially over time by promoting your business within their own social networks.
In addition to helping spread the word about your business, customers who trust your brand are far more likely to make repeat purchases. The more expensive your products and services are, the more important it is to gain your customer’s trust.
Using Social Media to Build Trust
Although many businesses do a good job of using Twitter and Facebook as promotional tools to create awareness of special offers, very few do a good job of using these platforms to create trust. Creating trust means engaging in valuable conversations and providing useful, relevant information, not just about your products and services, but about your industry as a whole. Over time, providing valuable, useful information to your customers and prospects will help you create a community built on trust that will lead to sales.
When used correctly, press releases are another great trust-building tool. The key to success with press releases is the same as with all other marketing platforms. You need to be consistent. Monthly press releases will help keep your brand in the conversation and create ongoing awareness of your business.
Blogs are one of the most effective tools for building trust. Be sure to post on a consistent basis and blog about topics that are relevant to your audience. Many businesses mistakenly think of their blog as being the equivalent of their monthly newsletter and waste their readers’ time with stories about company picnics and employee achievements.
Keep your audience in mind when blogging and always ask for feedback in the form of comments about your posts.
For most businesses, success is more a matter of refocusing their existing efforts than engaging in new ones. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, your company blog or Web site, ask yourself whether the message increases trust. Focus on trust-building in all your marketing efforts and you’ll build a loyal customer base that will help grow your business over time.