Consumers ranked social media as the least trusted source of general news and information in the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Report. In fact, 73% worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon.
The lack of trust in social media means marketers must constantly take a critical look at the content they’re posting. Every timely event or crisis puts you under an even greater microscope. Take the COVID-19 pandemic as a prime example.
People are scared for their futures and more cautious of every piece of information they digest. Toeing the fine line between seeming oblivious to the crisis or exploiting the circumstances to get noticed is a major challenge. If you fall too closely to either side of the spectrum in your social media marketing, you risk losing trust in your brand.
As we all know, there are countless other current events and worldly issues impacting consumers. How you handle your social media strategy now directly impacts the amount of trust your target audiences will have in the future.
Here’s what you need to do to create trust in your brand using social media marketing:
Show how you’re helping others
Telling customers you feel their pain — whatever that may be — quickly becomes white noise. They’ve heard it all before and become immune to companies saying, “We’re with you.” As your audience passes by these posts, ignoring future social media shares will become a habit.
Trust often begins with action. You “feel their pain,” but what are you doing to serve their needs? Of course, there are many circumstances preventing companies from performing huge gestures outside of business-as-usual costs. But you don’t need an enormous act of charity with a monumental budget to prove you’re making an impact.
Some companies, for example, offer employees a designated number of hours a month to perform volunteer work. Design a hashtag specifically focused on efforts like this that align with consumers’ current needs or interests. Share these posts at the same time each week so that your audience begins to expect them and trusts you’re continuing to do positive work.
Focus on challenges with viable solutions
Social media is so multifaceted. We use it to connect with both our loved ones and strangers, it’s a source of entertainment, and even provides us with solutions to our greatest challenges.
To cultivate trust and stand out above the crowd, you must focus on your target audience’s current challenges. Consider what they’re struggling with that isn’t being solved at the moment. Then, create a viable solution solely from the standpoint of helping customers overcome those issues and improving their lives.
Connect without mentioning timely events
There’s always a timely event or crisis occurring in the world. If you ignore that fact, you appear blind to the situation. However, if you leverage it excessively, you appear to be exploiting the situation for your own benefit.
Let consumers know you see them during this unique time. Discuss what they’re experiencing right now, the fact that you get it and why you get it, and reassure them you can help.
Create visuals of people dealing with the same issues without mentioning any crisis situations or timely events. For example, Cottonelle’s “Share a Square” campaign sends a specific message about community. It doesn’t mention the COVID-19 crisis, but instead, essentially says, “We know you’re frightened. Trust us. We’re working to keep up with production and will never leave you without an essential product.”
Instagram and Facebook stories are the perfect way to ignite the same type of genuine connection. Ask employees to share videos of them working hard to meet consumer’s needs or post quotes about why they feel passionate about their roles.
Be sincere and to the point
Merriam-Webster defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Unfortunately, many people attempt to over assure with too many words. And being superfluous tends to overcomplicate situations.
This is especially true when you’re writing posts meant to connect with people of various backgrounds and personalities. Keep your social media marketing filled with short and sweet messages.
Write and talk like an empathetic human being. Attract audiences with the natural conversational tone of your brand, rather than attempting to say what you think they want to hear. The more authentic you are, the easier it is for people to recognize your reliability.