When your business starts social marketing, there is a long list of things that need to be developed for success: a plan, a platform, a brand presence, engagement and a goal. After putting in so much time and effort in online marketing, it should be devastating when results aren’t what you want them to be. There are several things that can go wrong, but one of the most common reasons is that your potential customers just don’t trust you. You could have everything going right for your company; but if your online presence lacks credibility, no one will trust you to do business with.

Before social media, trust was built by word of mouth. If a customer had a great experience with your business, they would share this with friends and family. Businesses earned their reputation by people with actual experiences with your company. Now that social media has become one of the only ways to establish your reputation online, businesses are struggling to create that credibility.

This is a topic that we have discussed before, but building trust doesn’t happen overnight, and it is crucial to your business. Here are some more things you can do that will help you attain the trust factor you need with customers.

  1. Know your stuff. It is easy to validate who you are online, so make sure you really know your stuff! Faking it won’t get you far; and the second you give false information, you are tuned out to anyone who sees it. The content on all your social platforms must scream that you know what you’re talking about. If you are taking work from a source, credit that source and never take other’s work as your own. Give social proof to everything you post and share such as references, customer testimonials, guest blog posts, etc.
  2. Proof of knowledge. You need to prove to your customers who and what you are. This is called social proof, and it will get you far if you’re doing it right. Great social proof includes references from your customers, previous customers’ experiences, links to your cited info or ebooks. Social proof should be easy to see and available instantly for your customers to see.
  3. Do what you say you do. If you claim you are the leading sunglasses distributor in Northern California, then your website cannot look like a 5th-grader made it. If your business is professional and successful, then fix the fonts, colors and content to match what you give to your customers. Make sure what you are preaching is something you practice. You would question the credibility of a Nutritionist whose 200 pounds overweight, right? Well the same is true for all businesses. If you want everyone to want your product or service, then they should question your credibility if you don’t want what you’re claiming is so great. Online, talk in words of a testimonial for your own products. You will be amazed at how many new customers will jump on the band wagon if you take the time to be your own social proof.
  4. Be the same person online and offline. When you are a business owner, you are the business. Who you are on Saturday night at the bar is the same person you are on Monday morning. Your offline behavior directly reflects your online success. In other words, don’t fake your personality online to get customers to like you. If you are caring, honest, sincere and kind online, you had better be that same person in real life.
  5. Surround your business with other businesses and people that will bring out the best in you. Hang around businesses that will teach you, build you up and make your business better. Stay away from the ones that push you down, criticize your every move, and envy your success. Establish real and trusting relationships and work together. Never trust a person from first tweet, either. Make sure you do some research on the people and companies that you want to hang around.
  6. Make your first impression a great one. You ever hear the expression, “You had me at hello?” Well, in this case, it pertains to your Facebook posts and tweets. When you tweet, you have 140 characters to grab the attention of readers and pull them into clicking on your post. When they click on that first post, don’t scare them away with bogus or inaccurate information. Once you have convinced that potential customer that you are untrustworthy, you don’t get another chance. So make every post and content full of things your readers will take interest in, and really give all content everything you have. You never know when that one new loyal customer may come around on your Facebook page.
  7. Take your time for relationships. Social media can be taught to anyone. Successful social media is a completely separate thing. Business owners get so caught up in the science of posting at the right times and producing the perfect content that they forget that there is a care aspect as well. Taking the time to engage and really understand your customers is what will set you apart online. Take the time to get to know your readers’ personalities, connect with them, ask them questions, answer their questions, comment on their content, and reach out to the people and businesses that you feel comfortable building a relationship with.
  8. Make sure your platforms encourage conversation. If your platform makes statements that read like an ad or corporate agenda, then people won’t feel inspired to talk much. Make sure that everything is inviting, including your content, blogs, commenting systems, forms, colors, font and language. If you can’t figure out why no one will talk to you, ask a trusted outsider to assess your page and figure out what it needs. You need to know how your page makes customers feel, and how they would engage with you on all social platforms. If you don’t invite anyone to talk with you, then they won’t.
  9. Don’t make everything about YOU. Even though almost all social platforms make it so that others can know everything about you, don’t do this with your business pages. You do need to let your customers know what you do to build trust, but don’t make your platforms a major advertisement of you. Your social sites should contain everything about how you help others and how you want to engage with others to find out their needs. If you have no idea what your audience is in need of, ask them like you would do in a personal relationship.
  10. Create a lot of your own content. You are a business owner because you have found something that you know a lot about and really take an interest in what you have to offer. So if you have all this knowledge, there’s no need to take content from others. Create your own! I think it is important to share content, but it is even more important to create your own content so that customers can see what you know. If your customers see that you really know your stuff, and are not just copying content from other businesses, they will trust your expertise.
  11. Honesty is key. Obviously, if you are caught in a lie, trust is gone forever. Period. Don’t fake your posts, or come up with junk content or you will lose that credibility that has brought you so close to your customers in a split second.

When it comes down to it, trust is what makes your business successful. If you lose trust from a customer, you lose the customer all together.