How to Build Brand Trust Through Social Media

Dec 03, 2020

Making a purchase is a leap of faith: you’re spending your hard-earned money on something in the hopes that you’ll get what you want from it. This has always been the case, but it’s even more true in the e-commerce world of today, where most of us are making our purchases based only on what we see online. What makes these leaps of faith possible is trust. Trust that the brand will provide what they promised, and use your money in a manner you endorse. In fact, a massive global survey found that 35% of people say “trust in brand” is one of the top three factors influencing their shopping choices.

So how do you build that all-important trust? There are many ways to do so, but there’s perhaps none more powerful than — you guessed it — social media.

Opportunities for Building Trust

In any relationship, whether it’s person to person or person to brand, every interaction offers a new opportunity to either strengthen or weaken trust. Because brands interact with their audience in so many different ways, that means that there are a variety of different avenues that lead to more trust. Some of those avenues are:

  • The product itself. If your product or service delivers as advertised, this strengthens trust. If, on the other hand, it falls short of the expectations you’ve given to the consumer, then they’re likely to trust you less.
  • Customer service. Stellar customer service makes people feel like they’re in good hands, which allows them to trust the brand more. Poor customer service makes people feel like the brand is not on their side, which undermines trust.
  • Advertising and marketing. Ads and marketing materials are intended to convince customers to buy your product, but they need to do so in an honest way. Misleading messaging may convert customers in the short-term, but it will breed distrust in the long-term.
  • Real person-to-person connections. Trust is a human feeling, so it makes sense that speaking to another human directly provides a powerful trust-building opportunity. Things like in-person events, customer phone calls, and in-store interactions can all help build trust.
  • Public actions. What a brand does in public reflects directly on who that brand is. If their public actions align with who they say they are, this bolsters trust. Taking hypocritical actions breeds distrust.
  • Social media. Now we’ve gotten to the gold mine. Social media is one of the most important factors involved in trust-building. Thankfully, it’s also an area that’s immediately and always accessible, and where brands of all sizes can start building and strengthening trust immediately.

Why Social Media Is So Good for Building Trust

Social media is the gold mine of trust-building for a couple reasons.

First, it provides a platform where you can speak directly with people. It’s not a marketing blast going out to everyone who ever signed up for your email list; it’s not a podcast ad getting heard by who knows what audience. On social media, you can see exactly who your followers are, and speak to them in a space where they can directly respond to you. In some senses, it’s a scalable version of the real human-to-human connection you get on customer calls or in-person events.

Second, social media is where your audience lives. No matter the demographics of your target market, odds are near 100% that they’re on social media. Their preferred platform might vary (older audiences may be more likely to use Facebook while younger ones may prefer TikTok, for instance), but social media is a part of their lives.

Both of these factors mean that you have, at your fingertips, a massive reservoir of trust that your brand can tap into. You just have to make sure that you do it right.

Using Social Media to Build Brand Trust

Building brand trust through social media isn’t overly complicated, but it does take some thought and awareness. To make sure that you’re effectively leveraging your social media presence to build trust in your audience, follow these seven guidelines:

  • Share valuable content. Of course, you want to sell your product or service. But if you’re always selling to people, they’re not going to trust — or listen to — you. Instead, share relevant, valuable content that you know would interest your target audience. For instance, if you’re a skincare company, share an infographic on the perfect order in which to use skincare products; if you’re a bakery, share great quotes from famous bakers; share fun recipes and tips, etc. By sharing actual content, you build trust in two ways: both by building a stronger brand-consumer relationship, and by showing that you’re an authority in your area. A good ratio to aim for is at least 80% content, 20% selling your product or service.
  • Join the conversation. One surefire way to sabotage trust is to put something out on social media and then ignore the response to it. This shows that you don’t care what your audience thinks, which is a major trust-killer. Make sure to not only respond to comments (both positive and negative!) but also encourage comments and conversation by asking questions. These conversations often happen quickly and in real-time, so it’s important to have someone on the team actively monitoring your social media accounts and responding promptly.
  • Leverage positive reviews. Consumers today are naturally distrustful of companies, and many rely on reviews to form their opinion about a brand. This makes sense: the brand has an incentive to tell you their product is great; the reviewer doesn’t. Of course, you can’t force positive reviews, but you can encourage satisfied customers to share their experience. Some social media platforms, like Facebook, have a built-in review feature, but you can also feature good reviews on other social platforms. For instance, you can encourage people to share screenshots of their positive reviews on Twitter or in Instagram stories (through just asking them to do so, or a more structured campaign), or you can get permission to share their positive reviews on your own account.
  • Promote and amplify word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth endorsements are basically less formal, more temporary reviews, and they’re a highly effective driver of trust. After all, people generally trust the accounts they follow on social media, so these opinions matter a lot! You can amplify personal endorsements by reposting any positive mentions of your brand, or running contests and campaigns in which people need to tag or mention your brand. You can also collaborate with influencers who align with your brand, and earn their endorsement to their followers.
  • Check your sources. It may sound obvious, but if you want to build trust, you need to share trustworthy content. This means only sharing (or resharing) verified, well-sourced information from trusted, authoritative outlets and accounts.
  • Let people behind the scenes. Few things establish trust better than bringing people into your inner world. Luckily, social media offers you the perfect platform on which to share all the unfiltered, behind-the-scenes action that goes on at your company. This could take many forms, such as an Instagram Live where a team member gives a tour of the office and takes questions, process shots that show how your product is made, a video of an all-hands meeting, the list goes on and on.
  • Be consistent. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: brand consistency matters a lot. This is particularly true when it comes to building trust. How could someone trust a brand that takes on a different form whenever they encounter it? Trust grows from reliability and predictability, and brand consistency ensures you’re delivering on this front.

In the past, brand trust was a one-way street: you put out a trustworthy image in your advertising and marketing and hoped for the best. Today, consumers need more convincing in order to trust brands. Thankfully, social media is the perfect platform on which to earn the trust of savvy consumers. It may take more effort, but the end result will be far more satisfying and long-lasting for all parties.

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