Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Social Business Credibility

photodune 537117 trust word in letterpress type xs Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Social Business CredibilityWhen building an online persona and brand usually we start with the most basic aspects including over arching brand, logo, colors, core messages etc.  All of these are foundational to success.  We develop our plan, develop our platform, create and launch our brand presence, integrate social with our business goals and start the social media engagement.  However, after a few months goes by we realize nobody is buying from us.  Nobody is opting in to our email lists. What has happened? Why don’t they want to further engage with our brand? Do they not trust us? Do they not think that we could bring them value?

Do you lack the trust factor?  

There could be many different reasons why your communities are reluctant to engage with you.  One of the most common reasons is that they don’t trust you. You have all the pretty colors, bells and whistles for your online presence but you lack credibility.  You lack the trust factor.

In real life and offline relationships, trust is built via word of mouth, client and partner referrals.  One person talks to another person who knows good and bad about you. You earn a reputation for being who you are and the quality and service you deliver.  You may have a solid reputation and trust factor offline but are finding it difficult to establish such online.

If this is the case for you, don’t you fret! This could be for many reasons. It could be you are practically starting over with online relationships. If most of your offline contacts, partners, colleagues and friends are not yet online, then yes you are starting over to some degree. However, you can also leverage your relationships offline to bring credibility online.

Building trust doesn’t happen overnight. However, there are some simple things you can do even if you are just starting out to increase credibility and the trust factor.

10 Tips to Establish Credibility and Trust

1. Establish authority.
First and foremost you must establish authority. Your must know your stuff. Faking it online will not get you far. Social media is far different than handing someone a business card. In the social realm it’s easy to validate who you are, where you have worked, what references you have, who your clients are, who your contacts are within only a few clicks.  Your content on all social platforms must scream results. It must be obvious you know your stuff. We need more than one bullet and short paragraph that tells readers you are an expert at whatever it is you do. Give credit to your sources and never take other people’s work as your own. Back up your claims with social proof such as blog content, references, client testimonials, client logos, guest blog posts and more.

iStock 000005552935XSmall Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Social Business Credibility2. Social proof.
Yes, even though you may have spent far too much money on that beautiful Twitter background, custom Facebook page and blogsite, you still need to prove to me who and what you are.  This isn’t as hard as what it sounds. Don’t ignore this step. Instead make this one of the first things you do when you hop online. Take time to update this content at least once a month.  Good examples of social proof include testimonials, customer references, partner references, kudos from other thought leaders, examples of work completed, links to work completed, guest blogs you have contributed to, links to blogs where you and your content has been cited, white papers, ebooks, and the list goes on. Social proof should be instantly available within one or less clicks on your site. I should not have to dig, double and triple click to find it. Make it pop out at me from the front page please!

However, be careful here. You must have the work experience and proven results to back it up. 10,000 purchased Twitter followers is not real social proof. I’d rather see 500 that were earned by providing relevant and valuable content.

3. Walk the walk.
iStock 000012832686XSmall 300x198 Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Social Business CredibilityEverything about your online persona, website, blog and social profiles must not only talk the talk but your actions must walk the walk of whatever you say you do. If you claim to be the best social media and advertising agency this side of Texas and know how to deliver results, then your own website and online persona should not look like a fifth grader developed it. Fix the fonts, fix the colors, fix the content.

Take the time to do what you say you are so good at doing!  It’s like a dietician that is 150 lbs overweight telling you that they don’t worry about being healthy themselves that they focus only on you. Any good agency, agent, salesrep, blogger, copywriter, consultant, business services provider should be doing themselves what they say they can do for you. “Eat your own dogfood” is what we use to say in the big iron corporate days of the dot bomb era in high tech.

Delete the jargon and talk in real words that establish you as a walking testimonial of what you can do for clients! If you don’t take time to fix your own identity, online persona, brand, website, content, sales processes, business process why should anyone else believe you can do it for them? You are your own best social proof and will be amazed at the number of clients you will get if you start doing this!

4. Be consistent in both life and business.
The days of separating online and offline personas are over and done. You can’t be one person offline and a better, different person online. You are one business, one team, one person regardless if you are online or offline.  If you are a one man or one woman business consultant this is even more important. Who you are on Friday night at the bar is the same person you are on Monday morning. Your offline behavior reflects your online success. Be who you are as you are only one person. However, my point is don’t fake it. There is only one you so be that person. Hopefully that person is honest, sincere, real, open, and communicates well with people both online and offline.

5. Hang with the right peeps.
If you hang out with 9 brokes, chances are you are going to be the 10th! Hang out with people you learn from, people who build you, empower you and make you a better person. Avoid the people who kick you down, criticize you and overall envy your success.  Be sure you hang with the people who are going places. Establish real relationships and work together. Take time to know and research the people you hang out with. Don’t just trust everyone on first tweet. Just as you need to establish trust with your community, expect the same of those you bring into your inner circle.

twitter hi res edited flipped Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Social Business Credibility6. You had me at first tweet.”
I hear this a lot from many businesses who eventually become our clients. What you tweet matters. Don’t be negative Nelly all day. Give your Twitter and Facebook readers good nuggets of information that help them, inspire them and enable them to get to know you better. We have numerous clients who we have met from one single tweet that inspired or educated them. Don’t minimize the power of inspiring people to engage with you and your brand and start the first stages of trusting you even in 140 character increments known as tweets!

7. Take time for relationships.
I see many businesses and consultants get too caught up in the science of social media that they forget the most important aspect, the art.  I am not talking about art as in brand and colors. Instead focus on the art as in relationships and conversation. The tools of social media can be learned by almost anybody. It’s the art of engagement that will differentiate you from the masses. If you are finding it hard to build real relationships online then chances are you are not taking the time to get to know someone. Take time to truly connect with others. Ask them questions. Comment on their blog posts. Reach out to folks you feel comfortable with and build a relationship.

There are new pockets of peeps, partners, crowd sourced blog communities and potential real life friends popping up every day. Get to know some of the folks in the communities. Start your own communities.

iStock 000019291074XSmall 300x199 Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Social Business Credibility8. Build a platform that invites conversation.
If your platform reads like a billboard or corporate collateral from the 1980’s then chances are you are not going to inspire much conversation. Ensure that everything from your content to blog share buttons, commenting systems, opt-in forms, contact forms, colors, and lanugage are all inviting. If you are not getting the engagement you need, then ask a trusted 3rd party to do an assessment for you. Ask them specific questions about how your content makes them feel. Ask them where and how they would engage with you on our social platforms. Unless you invite folks to engage with you and your brand, chances are they won’t. There is definitely not a lack of other businesses successful at doing such that are going to steal their mindshare from you.

9. It’s not about you!
As much as you want to think that your Twitter profile, tweet stream, Facebook business page and blog are all about you, they aren’t. Yes, you can use these platforms to establish authority, build community and trust, it is not a walking billboard of YOU.  Your online personas should scream helpfulness, content that inspires, conversation that engages. Talk to your communities in voices they like to communicate, not in web speak.  Ask them what they want if you don’t know. Take time to know your audience, partners, clients and more. The better you understand your audiences, the better you will be able to help them. The more you help them, the more they will trust you via your actions.

10. Author content. 
photodune 1816525 pencil with big idea xs 300x249 Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Social Business CredibilityChances are you are in business because you know something. You hopefully know something that is going to help a business or individual otherwise you probably won’t be in business long.  Make certain you establish your own content. I am a big believer in sharing and curating awesome content I find across the web with my communities.  However, I am also a believer in creating my own content. It is through your own content that people get to know YOU! It’s where you can establish trust, thought leadership, expertise, relationships. Businesses and individuals that are not creating content are  missing out on incredible opportunities to connect with people in a way that brings them close to you and your brand.

11. Be honest. 
I added this one as a bonus mostly because it should be common sense.  If you have an issue with a product, service, software, network, Twitter feed, Facebook post, blog post or other just be honest and acknowledge the issue. Hiding from it is not going to do anything that will bring benefit to you or your business.  Don’t under estimate the power of your community and relationships. They are much more resilient when the relationship is built on trust and credibility.

Bottom line, if you lose my trust, you lose me.  

I could write a book on this topic and probably should. However, a blog post has to end somewhere. There is no price tag we can put on trust. It is simply invaluable. Take the time to not only be a person people want to trust but ensure your online persona helps you establish such.

Your Turn

Do you struggle with establishing trust in your markets or online? Did this article help you? Or are you a pro who has tips you can share with others? Let’s all help one another as feedback from others is a great way to learn on these types of topics.

35 Social Media Truths

This is part of a series on social business titled “35 Social Media Truths“. It is part of a keynote presentation I gave at Rochester Institute of  Technology. If you want to hear more, sign up for the 35 Social Media Truths Newsletter and you will receive all 35 of them over a period of time. Included will be different mediums such as video, blog posts and more.

Related Articles: 

People Don’t Buy Things, They Join Things

 Be Your Own Social Duck by Implementing with Results

 46 Tips to Show Up at the Right Field in the Social Business Game

 CEO Wants Klout: Days of Our Social Business

See original post from our agency Marketing Nutz, blog

About the Author

Pam Moore

*Forbes Top 10 Social Media Women, Forbes top 50 Social Media Power Influencer - CEO / founder of Marketing Nutz, full service social brand, digital marketing agency. Social media marketing speaker, author, strategist, consultant, coach, & trainer. I help businesses of all size integrate social media into the DNA of their business, connect with target audiences to nurture authentic customer relationships. 15+ years experience working with Fortune 500, Franchised corporations with 4000+ local franchises to entrepreneurs and startups!

  • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

    Love everything about this list! One of the biggies for me is #3. Don’t you love how people tout their social media “expertise” but you can’t find them anywhere online and the one tweet they sent out two years ago is about a football game? Especially on Twitter, it’s pretty hard to hide. Before following anyone I check out their profile and recent tweets. It’s amazing how many people claim the social expert title yet there is nothing to indicate one iota of that. Usually it’s just the opposite. I think that’s the new form of spam. People are all gung-ho on social so if you can pretend to be on that bandwagon maybe some of that special fairy dust will wear off on you.

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      So sad but yet so true @twitter-15837561:disqus ! We work with many companies who have been previously scammed by these folks you talk about. There are many consultants selling the “get on social” mentality for cheap. Yet, eventually the biz owners and leaders get smart to the fact they are seeing no return. It is sad to see folks who have wasted a year or more on such tactics and investment in broken promises. The social numbers mean nothing without real execution to prove results using such methods.

      • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

        Just as an added bonus, I love checking out someone’s profile who claims to be a social media expert and find that it’s a photo of a rather underdressed woman… I’m thinking social media may be a euphemism for something I’m just not aware of yet!

  • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

    I’m a big fan of #4, Pam. Like you say, if you don’t put on a facade to try and be someone you’re not, you’ll attract exactly the kind of people you want to both hang and do business with. I may not have all the big numbers that some others do, but at least you know what you’re getting with me, as opposed to some pandering to the flavour of the day for bigger visibility!

    Good stuff. :)

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      Amen @dannybrown:disqus there is only one you, so be that person. Focus on who you are, results you want to achieve, things you like, who you want to hang with and those things come to you with the right and focused effort! ;)

      Glad you liked it. A compliment coming from you for sure! Thx!

  • Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer

    Absolutely great advice. I think, to show your expertise, you need to give some of that expertise away — otherwise, your content is hollow. You aren’t going to give away ‘state secrets’, but you do need to talk about your philosophies, work methods, and success stories in detail. Excellent article!

    • http://www.pammarketingnut.com PamMktgNut

      Thanks @google-d1b24183334cc06fb76fdf3747261223:disqus and glad you liked it. I agree that you must share some of your expertise for credibility. We have taken this path since starting our agency. Though some may say it’s a slower path to success, it’s also a more sustainable path as you eventually attract the right customers and help many who are not or can not afford your services along the way. We love to help people and businesses so sharing content to do such is in our DNA. I honestly feel blessed daily to be able to do such! It’s what keeps me going day and night!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment. Appreciate it. Have a wonderful Holiday.

  • http://twitter.com/CajunCopy Jesse Lanclos

    So many good things in here, Pam. I love reading your stuff. You’re on the money about being positive on Social Media, focusing on relationships, and realizing that you need to be “others” centered. It’s a lot like life :) All great points.

  • http://twitter.com/drmish Aneil Mishra

    All great tips, Pam, and #9 is my favorite. The more generous you are with others, the more likely you are to engender trust in your followers. It’s that simple (and that hard to remember when it’s so easy to be self-focused).

  • http://twitter.com/msprecious40 Jeanene Wilson

    These tips rock! I am somewhat new to social media as an entrepreneur, and every day I learn something new. #4 is my favorite. #7, and #9 also resonate for me.

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  • http://CrazyDreamersDo.com/ Susan Kay Daniels

    Great tips. I will sign up for the newsletter series 35 social media truths. Although I have decades of experience in business, I still struggle with self-confidence to “believe” that I have authority over my own knowledge base and that it is valuable to others. It’s a daily process. Warmly, Susan

  • Karin Sebelin ♥‿♥

    I don’t like this certain “tone” in your text.

    … you still need to prove to me who and what you are …

    Your article shows too much “arrogance” and “authority” .,. sorry !

    We all are successful but we should be careful how we write about it.

  • Karin Sebelin ♥‿♥

    Do we convince with our brand or with our personality?

    Do you want to die and on your tombstone stands your brand?
    Here rests XY, brand was his second forename …
    R.I.P.

    ?

    When we are able to convince with our character, our personality, our humanity, our divinity, our uniqueness in person – when we are able to convince with charm, sympathy, spirit, feelings and soul, we will earn people’s respect as a person, too, not only as a brand. Openness, humility, gratitude, charity and empathy will create love, will create an inner connectedness. These things create an unmistakable business culture, will label our brand and will give our company and brand a special noble touch.

    “BOWL PEOPLE OVER” WITH YOUR PERSONALITY, NOT WITH YOUR BRAND!

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