3 Ways Brands can Build Trust Using Social Media

In today’s social media landscape, everyone has a megaphone at their fingertips. Not only is there more noise, but we have also suddenly found ourselves in an environment where we are instructed to doubt the credibility of most sources—news, social media, ad campaigns. A 2017 Pew Study showed that just 5% of web-using U.S. adults trust the information they get from social media. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer report recorded the lowest level of trust ever for government, business, media, and NGOs—an average of only 44%. Without trust, this report indicated that 57% believe our overall system is failing, and in people’s minds there is a “sense of injustice, a lack of hope and confidence, and a desire for change in our basic institutions.”

So as brands, what is our obligation? As the lines between truth and fiction become increasingly blurred, how can brands instill confidence and trust? How can marketers capitalize on current trends and stay relevant to consumers without sacrificing brand equity? We have three specific tips to help guide you:

1. Be authentic.

Every decision made by a social marketer should reflect brand values. From building social content to deciding which comments warrant a response to taking an active stance during current events, marketers must ask “does this represent my company’s values?” A set of brand values defines a brand’s personality, purpose and establishes how it relates to employees, customers and target audience. Just as a company changes as it grows, these values also aren’t static.

As Steve Jobs said, “To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”

At Spredfast, our customers are constantly challenged to identify current trends in order to create real-time content. As marketers, we want to capitalize on conversations and our customers’ FOMO. This doesn’t have to become cloudy. By always keeping your core values in mind and always asking “Does our brand have a stance on this issue in line with our values?”, you can more easily identify when to take a stand and when jumping in on a conversation may not be true to your brand.

On May 28, 2014, Maya Angelou passed away and many celebrities and activists took to twitter to express condolences and pay tribute to the poet. Victoria’s Secret noticed that #mayaangelou was trending and felt making a statement was in line with their core value of empowerment—and that Maya Angelou was iconic to their customer base. They quickly tweeted out the Maya Angelou quote “I am a woman. Phenomenally. #mayangelou” and saw a 672% increase in retweets and 188% increase in favorites.

2. Be transparent.

In a world where mistrust is the norm, consumers not only want to know what a brand stands for, but also want proof that this talk is backed by action.

A 2017 CSR study by Cone Communications found that 78% of Americans believe it's important for companies to stand up for social justice issues, and furthermore, they want proof. 65% of Americans and 76% of millennials say when companies takes a stand on a social or environmental issue, they will do research to see if it is true.

Every brand has a story to tell and customers who want to hear it. From production to product development to distribution, your customer wants to both be in-the-know and be engaged in your process and in turn, this is an opportunity to build brand loyalty.

Take Spredfast customer Patagonia. From the moment one visits their website, the retailer makes their mission and values clear: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Last February, Patagonia put their money where their mouth was to fight for protection of public protected lands, focusing on Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. In addition to dropping out of the Outdoor Retailer trade show because of Utah’s leadership position on protecting the land, they built a digital platform where consumers could send their thoughts directly to Congress and created a 360-video to give users the experience of climbing at Bears Ears. This social campaign drove over 1,000 phone calls to the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke and more than 37,000 visits to the initial Facebook post on led to over 13,000 shares and 900K video views.

3. Operate with Empathy.

As Forrester’s Erna Alfred Liousas described, empathy partnered with disruption creates a better brand experience.

Social media provides the microphone to not only amplify, but also respond and engage with your customers. By being authentic and empathetic in communication, brands have the ability to develop a deeper connection with customers, build stronger relationships and create brand loyalty. Spredfast research shows that 95% of conversation on twitter is 1:1, an increase from 93% in 2015. As Spredfast CMO Jim Rudden shared in his 2017 Smart Social Summit Keynote, social provides an opportunity to forge a human connection and today brands have not only the opportunity, but the obligation to is to get to know their customers better in order to build a more personal, human interaction.

Whether it's responding to a brand love moment or resolving an issue, social provides the opportunity for brands to go above and beyond for their customers and to connect on a human level.

Our Director of Brand Marketing detailed how brands can build that connection and trust through acting on the shared values of their customers.

While we continue to see an erosion of trust in media, government and public figures, according to the same Edelman study, from 2016 - 2017 trust in business declined the least from 53% to 52%. In today’s climate of both mistrust and misinformation, the glass is slightly more than half full. It is more important than ever for brands to make marketing and communications decisions rooted in their core values and to lead with empathy, transparency and authenticity.

November 21, 2017
4 Ways Social Media Can Help Brands Manage Change
December 1, 2017
What Marketing Teams Can Learn from Two Auto Companies Embracing Disruption
Plagued by FOMO herself, Becca is passionate about connecting people to each other, companies and food. As a Market Director, she helps companies tackle their marketing and business challenges by reaching, engaging and scaling their target audiences through Spredfast technology and services.