Brand trust. It’s a key element in customer loyalty and can have a direct and measurable impact on your business’s bottom line. Yet, it’s one of the aspects of online and social media marketing that brands struggle with the most.
For some business owners, trust may not seem like a high priority. After all, who cares if consumers trust a company that sells ice cream, as long as the ice cream tastes good? But it’s the difference between commoditizing your product…or building a brand, something customers can identify and remember, and with which they can form a relationship. Furthermore, a brand allows you to shape consumer perceptions of your business, and be responsive to the changing needs of the market.
However, today’s consumer is more aware than ever of the values, practices, and transparency of brands they choose to interact with and the products they choose to buy. 62% of participants in a recent survey wanted companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues, such as sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices. What’s more, 53% of consumers rank brand loyalty second only to price in importance to their purchasing decisions.
To make things even more challenging, consumer trust in the information brands publish on social media is falling fast. According to research by Censuswide for the Chartered Institute of Marketing, some 30% of consumers now say they have little to no trust in brand information they see on Facebook, up 10% from 2014 — and that increase is mirrored on other social media platforms, as well. At the same time, consumers are increasingly turning to social media for information when making purchase decisions.
The conclusion is clear: the credibility of your business and the loyalty of your customers are built on a foundation of trust. What’s more, simply having the right marketing message is not enough; brand integrity is when companies walk the walk of their values and not just talk the talk…and consumers know the difference. For example, a 2019 survey found that Millenials’ opinions about businesses continued to diminish, in part due to views that businesses focus solely on their own interests rather than the greater good. On the other hand, brands that do cultivate consumer trust can enjoy benefits like increased engagement, loyalty, and even advocacy from their customers.
How can your business build brand trust? These 4 key ingredients will help.
The 4 Key Ingredients in Building Brand Trust
Brand integrity is when companies walk the walk of their values and not just talk the talk.
Transparency (and Credibility)
Think about the last time Facebook updated their terms of service. You probably dismissed the notification without reading the new terms; we all do it. But would you say you trust Facebook? The answer is probably no, and although Big Tech’s ubiquity in our lives has allowed platforms to push the limits of brand trust, recent years have demonstrated that even a giant like Facebook is not immune to the consequences.
Year after year, Facebook has consistently topped the list of the least-trusted tech companies in the United States. Revelations like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the ‘Facebook Papers,’ and the testimony of Frances Haugen tend to suggest that when it comes to the company that claims in their mission statement to want to “give people the power” to “make the world more open,” that distrust is well-founded.
This example goes to the heart of a critical component of brand trust: credibility.
It’s simply not enough to have the right mission statement or marketing message. Consumers need to see that your company has internal business practices and culture that match its stated core values.
Reliability and Showing Up
Reliability starts with a consistent product or service. Compromising on quality may save a few pennies in the short term, but it will do more harm than good over time. That’s why it’s essential to ensure that you are providing something your customers can rely upon.
The same ethos applies to your brand’s digital presence. Consistent visuals and voice, including your logo, brand colors, and the tone and personality of your posts all go a long way towards inspiring confidence in the consumer.
To take it a step further still, brands that show up with authenticity and relatability have the best opportunities to connect with existing and potential customers.
Selective consumers don’t want performative content; they want to see real people and authenticity. Remember: Intention matters. For an example, look no further than the Twitter account Gender Pay Gapp Bot (@paygapapp), which called out brands who tweeted support for International Women’s Day while not actually offering pay equity. Don’t be like those businesses!
Being a Part of the Community
Businesses giving back to the community is nothing new; through philanthropy and volunteerism, any company can generate goodwill and loyalty from the people they serve (and that’s good for business).
Today, with 70% of consumers paying attention to a brand’s actions on social and environmental issues, it is especially vital for companies to show (not just tell) consumers that they are socially responsible.
There is a caveat, however: While consumers are more attentive, they are also savvier, and more skeptical of marketing tactics.
Once again, the answer is authenticity. Is your company actually making a real difference? If not, you may be missing an opportunity to build brand trust.
Responsiveness to Feedback
Whether B2B, B2C, or anything in-between, all marketing is human-to-human. That means that no matter who your customer is, the relationship doesn’t end when the transaction is complete.
Make sure to stay in touch with customers after a purchase, and foster ongoing relationships. Taking the time to hear what they have to say not only engenders long-term trust, goodwill, and loyalty to your brand; it also empowers you to understand and address areas of your product or service that are in need of improvement.
Finally, if you do encounter negative feedback, responding with transparency, authenticity, and a genuine intention to understand can help turn a negative into a positive for your brand identity.
There is an art to growing communities, but it always comes down to remembering that behind every screen is a person. S2’s approach to creating social-first strategies focuses on the person behind the screen, and how they spend their time on different platforms.
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