3 Ways Brands Can Build Trust Using Social Media
In today’s social media landscape, everyone has a megaphone at their fingertips. Not only is there more noise, but we have also suddenly found ourselves in an environment where we are instructed to doubt the credibility of most sources — including news, social media, and ad campaigns. How much so? The results might surprise you: According to the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project — which surveyed 25,000 people worldwide — “more than four in five Britons distrust platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, with other developed nations such as France, Germany and the US not far behind.”
So as brands, what is our obligation? As the lines between truth and fiction become increasingly blurred, how can brands instill confidence and trust? How can marketers capitalize on current trends and stay relevant to consumers without sacrificing brand equity? We have three specific tips to help guide you:
1. Be authentic
Every decision made by a social media marketer should reflect brand values. From building social media content to deciding which comments warrant a response to taking an active stance during current events, marketers must ask, “does this represent my company’s values?” A set of brand values defines a brand’s personality and purpose while also establishing how it relates to employees, customers, and the target audience. Just as a company changes as it grows, these values also aren’t static.
As Steve Jobs said, “To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”
"It's a very noisy world... we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us." — Steve Jobs
At Khoros, our customers are constantly challenged to identify trends and topical events in order to create real-time content. As marketers, we want to capitalize on conversations and our customers’ fear of missing out (FOMO). But more importantly, brands must always keep their core values in mind and ask, “Do our values align with this topic, and if so, how can we contribute to the conversation positively?” This approach allows brands to more easily identify when to speak and when jumping in on a conversation may not be authentic.
Khoros customer British Gas displayed authenticity perfectly with this Tweet celebrating Steve “The Fixer” on Father’s Day. British Gas is committed to making a difference in the lives of its employees and the communities they serve. This Tweet represents just one drop in the ocean, but it’s in line with their other efforts. The brand is well-known for providing financial support through their charity to keep the homes of low-income families warm. British Gas also uses Twitter to educate homeowners about risks like carbon monoxide and boiler issues.
It’s all too easy for a utility company to appear non-human, but by putting the focus on its employees and communities, British Gas clearly lives up to its mission of service and creates authentic loyalty among its audience.
2. Be transparent
In a world where mistrust is the norm, consumers not only want to know what brands stand for, they want brands to act on their beliefs.
A 2017 CSR study by Cone Communications found that 78% of Americans believe it's important for companies to stand up for social justice issues, and furthermore, they want proof. When a company takes a stand on a social or environmental issue, 65% of Americans and 76% of millennials say they will do research to see if it's true.
Every brand has a story to tell and customers who want to hear it. From production to product development to distribution, your customer wants to be in-the-know and engaged in your process and in turn, your brand has an opportunity to build loyalty.
Every brand has a story to tell and customers who want to hear it.
Take Khoros customer LEGO for example: Back in 2015, LEGO came under criticism for using non-recyclable plastic to create their signature building blocks. The brand chose to acknowledge the problem, learn from the criticism, and evolve into a better company. LEGO set an ambitious goal to find and implement sustainable alternatives for their products and packaging by 2030. It wasn’t just talk: They’ve already begun releasing LEGO products made from plant-based elements. What can brands learn from LEGO? Criticism is not inherently bad. To the contrary, it is an opportunity for brands to be transparent and work to deliver a better product or experience for customers.
3. Operate with empathy
As Forrester’s Erna Alfred Liousas described, empathy partnered with disruption creates a better brand experience.
Social media provides the microphone to amplify, and it also provides the opportunity to respond to and engage with your customers. By being authentic and empathetic in communication, brands have the ability to develop a deeper connection with customers, build stronger relationships, and create brand loyalty. Today brands have not only the opportunity, but also the obligation, to get to know their customers better on social media in order to build a more personal, human interaction.
Today brands have not only the opportunity, but also the obligation, to get to know their customers better on social media.
Whether it's responding to a brand love moment or resolving an issue, social media provides the opportunity for brands to go above and beyond for their customers and to connect on a human level. One of the best ways to for brands to connect with customers on a human level is over shared values, like our next example.
When Khoros customer EDF Energy launched their Pretty Curious campaign, the brand leveraged their visibility for a very important cause. Pretty Curious aimed “to change the perception of STEM subjects [including science, technology, engineering, and math] and address the reasons girls are being put off.” With a combination of social media posts, live events, career quizzes, support for educational programs, media partnerships, and a focus on increasing female hires within their own company (which they did by 66%), EDF successfully connected with their audience and proved that empathy is key to building trust. To see the full story, read our case study here.
The bottom line
While we continue to see an erosion of trust in media, government, and public figures, the glass is slightly more than half full. Consumers are searching for brands they can believe in — so much so that nearly two-thirds prefer to purchase from a brand that reflects their own values and beliefs, while avoiding companies that don't. It is now more important than ever for brands to make marketing and communications decisions rooted in their core values and to lead with empathy, transparency, and authenticity.
For an in-depth look at how your brand can connect with audiences on social media, download our Social Media Pocket Guide.