Whether You're working to build customers for your business or simply trying to increase your social footprint, it's no secret that building online trust is a critical first step in developing a significant online footprint. Creating this rapport, however, is much more difficult than it seems. As more and more companies, bloggers, journalists, and attention seekers vie for attention, the average web user is far more desensitized and difficult to win over than they once were. In spite of this, it's still possible to build an authentic, trusting following online. Here's how.
Develop a Consistent Voice
Whether you're acting as an individual or a brand, it's critical that your followers feel consistency in your tone, message, and style. This is particularly important for businesses where multiple employees might play a part in social media efforts; however the concept applies even if you're working solo. True authenticity is hard to fake; try to drill down to your core message or idea, and be honest and excited about it; your viewers will respond.
Your online followers won't give you something without getting something in return. One of the best ways to build true trust and rapport is simply by focusing on bringing value to your readers that they couldn't get elsewhere. If you're a lawyer, try posting legal tips and advice to your Twitter feed. If you're a media personality, give your followers an exciting new perspective or insight into a popular topic.
Nobody builds online trust by themselves. Although it feels counter-intuitive, particularly for businesses who tend to think in terms of rivals rather than peers, reaching out to others who share similar goals, and helping where you can, can actually do a lot to build good faith and increase your clout and trust within your circle. Extending a helping hand to others allows you to be seen as an authority, someone in a position to pull people up. Your efforts won't go unnoticed.
Spread Your Efforts
Especially if you're working solo, it can be easy to develop tunnel vision when it comes to developing a trusting relationship with your target group. Don't just write the occasional Facebook update and think you're doing enough. Create a Twitter feed, Google Plus profile, Pinterest - anything that will help get your message in front of more eyes. Conversely, however, it's also important not to spread yourself too thin. Build your brand identity across absolutely as many platforms as you can manage - but not more than you can handle. Nothing diminished trust faster than a Twitter account that hasn't been updated in 3 years.
Be Prepared to Apologize
Every brand will, at some juncture, undergo a misstep of some kind. Whether you're a business that botched a customer order, or an online personality who misquoted a fact, mistakes will inevitably occur on occasion. How you react will go a long way to determining the trust followers are willing to place in you. Long in advance, it's a good idea to plan out how these scenarios might unfold, and what you can do to appropriately respond. Regardless of the situation, use any missteps as a chance to show brand integrity, rather than trying to cover up or dismiss the issue. Handle the situation with aplomb, and you'll see even greater trust down the line.
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