We all know the best form of credibility is word of mouth. But with so many self-professed social media gurus these days, it can be hard to separate yourself from the not-so-credible pack.

Even if you go out and create a branded, multi-channel social media presence with consistent logos, colours and messaging, you’re not guaranteed to earn anyone’s trust. It’s a start—but it’s not enough.

So how do you earn trust and start building real relationships online? It won’t happen overnight, but here are a few easy ways to get started:

Be consistent

Chances are, your online marketing strategy involves multiple social media platforms and multiple employees. Having a consistent look and feel (name, logo, colours) across all of your accounts is the first step to tying it all together, but you’ll need to go even further to really gain your customers’ trust.

To avoid coming off as disjointed and fragmented (and filling customers with doubt as to exactly what your brand stands for), you’ll need to define a few things. Is your brand’s personality/voice fun? Funny? How funny? What’s inappropriate and what’s not? What’s your area of expertise? What topics do you not want to touch on?

And because people will be talking about your brand whether you’re on that particular channel or not, it’s also important to claim as many profiles as possible. That way, you can not only moderate what people are saying about you, but also avoid confusion as to which social media account is your official profile, and which ones are controlled by the masses. 
 

Invite conversation

The whole point of social media is to engage, converse, listen, share, discuss, chat. It’s a two-way conversation, not a billboard.

Do your posts invite others to engage with your brand, or are you blanketing them with advertisements? To boost the conversation, get personal. Rather than posting product information, post the story behind the product. Post interesting/humorous/thought-provoking content, ask your fans for their opinions on topics related to your business, give fans a behind-the-scenes look at your business, and always, always, always respond to individual comments (even if they’re negative).

Photos, videos and infographics get more views than a straight-text post, so don’t be afraid to mix it up. Your fans and followers will thank you for it.


Build the right relationships

Are you hanging out with the wrong crowd? I’m not talking thugs and vandals—I’m talking people who don’t inspire you, who don’t teach you, who don’t add value to your business in any way, shape or form. It’s easy to become obsessed with increasing your online following—after all, a business with 2000 followers looks way more credible than one with only 50 followers—but that number is meaningless unless it contains both your core audience and other industry insiders.

Take the time to research the people you befriend online so you can cultivate real, meaningful relationships. When you hang out with people who actually care about your industry, your business and what you have to say, word will spread and your business will thrive.
 

Create your own content

Sharing other people’s content is lovely and generous, but it’s even more important to create your own content. Without sharing your own thoughts, words and expertise, customers won’t get to know you, the brand. They may know what you do, but they won’t see your company as a leader in its field—one they can trust, follow and return to again and again for the best information.

You don’t have to post original content every day, but don’t forget to throw your own ideas into the mix. If you don’t, you’ll be missing out on incredible opportunities to bring people even closer to your brand.

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