3 Ways Leading Brands Build Trust via Social Media

Opinion: Without frequent interaction with customers, some organizations face uphill battles

For credit repair or pharmaceuticals, the value of social media can’t be overstated
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One of the biggest selling points of social media for brands is that it allows for the natural fostering of trust. For brands that operate in taboo/highly scrutinized industries like credit repair or pharmaceuticals, the value of social media can’t be overstated.

When you study certain industries, you’ll notice that there are particularly warm connections between businesses and their consumers. For example, the coffee shop down the street from you—the one that’s been there for decades—has no trouble building trust with customers. Then there’s your favorite online retailer, where you shop for shoes multiple times per year. Again, there’s a familiarity that exists and it drives trust.

But then you have those companies that consumers only interact with every so often. And if they happen to be in an industry that’s highly scrutinized, customers approach them with trepidation and skepticism. There certainly isn’t any trust in the relationship.

The pharmaceuticals industry is a great example. According to one report, just 31 percent of people believe the industry has a great reputation. While there are some reasons to distrust certain companies in the pharma industry, there are also plenty of reasons to believe in them. But without frequent interaction with customers, these organizations face an uphill battle.

The credit-repair industry is another good example. Credit-repair scams are rampant—so much so that there’s a Credit Repair Organization Act that bans credit-repair companies from misleading clients about their services. But not all of these companies are bad. In fact, there are a number of highly rated credit-repair companies that help people get back on track. The problem is that most people only interact with these companies once or twice in their lifetime, so a single negative exchange can destroy trust indefinitely.

If you operate in an industry like this, then you know just how challenging it can be to overcome the negative stigma your business is associated with and build trust with your target market. Thankfully, it’s not impossible.

With social media, you’re able to interact with your target audience and control your image and voice—even when they aren’t directly engaging with you in a transaction. By no means is it easy, but the channel exists, and you have the chance to utilize it.

The exact methods you use will depend on a number of unique factors, but here are three specific methods you can use for building trust via social media.

Publish honest content

For starters, you have to publish honest content. Honest content is content that comes from the heart. It’s stuff that you write and publish without sending it through five or six different departments, where it gets stripped down and generalized by people who want a pristine brand image. Honest content is more like a journal entry and less like a landing page that’s been A/B-tested to the max.

Directly engage followers

The second piece of advice is to directly engage your followers. Remember that social media is a two-way street and that you have to give as much as you take.

Ask your followers questions. Respond to their comments. Like and comment on other profiles. All of these actions will show that you’re there to participate, and not just to advertise.

Host livestreamed video

If you want to kick things up a notch and take your social media efforts to the next level, consider giving livestreamed video a try. Livestreamed video—whether via Facebook Live or Twitter’s Periscope—is extremely popular right now and has been shown to boost engagement by significant levels.

From a trust-building perspective, it tears down walls and puts you directly in front of your customers. This can help you humanize your brand and establish more meaningful connections. Give it a shot.

Social media isn’t a channel for bombarding people with advertisements and self-serving content. While you have the freedom to use it in any way you please, it’s most effective when utilized as a tool for increasing trust—particularly if you’re in a highly scrutinized industry like pharmaceuticals or credit repair. Are you making the most out of it?

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.