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3 Specific Ideas to Build Trust with your Audience

Khoros Alumni (Retired)

The first phase of social media—in which brands first showed up, oriented themselves, and dived in among ordinary citizens—is long gone. So too is the second phase, where brands shifted from focusing largely on the one-to-many relationships of traditional social media marketing toward more direct, one-to-one conversations with their customers (social and digital customer service). In kicking off today’s Smart Social Summit, Spredfast VP of Strategy Spike Jones explained that In the next phase of social, brands will need to carry all of the lessons learned from the first two phases with them. And, he said, that next phase will be entirely about building and maintaining trust.

We’ve collected three specific strategies your brand can take to build and maintain trust with your audience, so that you can stay ahead of the next phase of social and digital customer engagement. Read on to get inspired, then put their tips to work for your team:

#1: Stand for something—and mean it

In an opening video address, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg implored marketers and digital experts in the room to use the social platforms they already have for good. “I have no doubt,” Sandberg said, “that you’ll meet that challenge and make the world a kinder, more connected place.” By living their values, brands have the opportunity to create real change where it matters.

By living their values, brands have the opportunity to create real change where it matters.

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One example of social responsibility by brands that made its way to our main stage? Nike’s recent ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick. The ad highlights Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. Kaepernick’s protest has, so far, cost him his football career—he has not been signed to a team since. The ad itself says, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

That kind of hand-raising for causes that mean something to your brand can result in serious attention—our keynote, Common, explained that in his travels to places as far as South Africa, people were wearing Kaepernick jerseys and asking about him. “People and brands that stand for something are really resonating right now,” Common said. “By losing his job, Kaepernick created something bigger than him.” And, he added, “Now, because they took a stand, supporting Nike is like a movement. The people behind that brand have shown they care, and they’ve shown they care not just about themselves.”

Common echoed Sandberg’s plea that brands raise their hands in support of their beliefs and use social for good: “Brands could be a lot more courageous with that.” He said brands should ask themselves, "what else do we truly stand for—and will we show that to the world?"

"I'm appreciating starting to see that more in brands, and hope more people in leadership lead their brands that way," Common said. "Because real leaders serve the people and brands have an opportunity to serve the people who are their consumers."

#2: Unite your marketing and customer care efforts

Another surefire way to breed trust in your audience? Present them a unified experience. Spredfast + Lithium CEO Pete Hess spoke this morning about the importance of breaking down silos in the interest of the customer experience. The bottom line? Customers just aren’t concerned with how your teams are aligned internally. Instead, they care about the experience they receive from your brand as a whole—no matter who they’re interacting with.

Customers just aren't concerned with how your teams are aligned internally.

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Not only can uncoordinated teams cause unnecessary hassle for their customers, they can actually do real damage to their relationship with their customer. Hess shared a personal story: after he sought customer care from its manufacturer, inquiring about replacing the glass only. However, before he received a response from the care team, the marketing team served him with at least three campaigns. “When brands want to sell you something before they’ve solved your problem—and they don’t even know you have a problem—it can do damage to the relationship,” said Hess, adding, “Until you solve my problem, I’m offended you would try to sell me something.”

Until you solve a customer’s problem, they’ll be offended if you try to sell them something.

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#3) Find the intersection of your audience’s needs and your brand’s needs

Marketing campaigns to date have largely been about getting information out to people—one way marketing—and that’s worked really well so far, explained Anurag Abinashi, Director of Strategy at Spredfast + Lithium. “But marketing is changing as we speak,” said Abinashi. Consumers today are looking for more than just facts and information—they’re looking for content that appeals to their emotional or personal beliefs. “Sometimes the content your audience needs is different than what you want to create,” said Abinashi.

“There is a sweet spot when you’re creating content and when you’re publishing it. Your brand has a voice, your brand has a message, and there is information you want to get out to your customers.” But the fact of the matter is, the way your customers want to consume content is often at odds with the information you as a brand want to share. So, it’s crucial to find the intersection of the two—your brand’s goals and your audience’s needs—and really nail that down with your content.

If you missed any keynotes and want to catch up, be sure to check out the livestream recordings.