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TRUST, A Social Media Missing Link!?

Having a Facebook Page WILL NOT bring instant sales.

Twitter WILL NOT triple your Web traffic overnight.

A press release WILL NOT get journalists banging down your door.

Harsh truths, I know, but ones that need to be heard. The problem with small businesses and marketing is they want instant coffee. They want to see a spike in sales or Web traffic instantly, and that simply doesn’t happen unless you’re the Old Spice guy. Freshly showered men aside, all your marketing efforts should lead to one thing:  T-R-U-S-T.

Why Trust Is Important

Is trust necessary? Not really. You could sell a thousand widgets to a thousand people and never see them again. Or you could work to build trust with these customers, and rely on them to become your brand evangelists, to let them tell others how great you are because you’re a trustworthy company. Let them blog, tweet and share their love on Facebook.

Trust keeps customers coming back. If what you sell costs a lot of money, it gives them the confidence to drop the $100, $1,000 or $10,000 on your product or service.

How to Build Trust

Every component of marketing is about trust-building, if done properly.

  • Social Media. Face it: You probably haven’t bought much from brands on Twitter just because they’re there. If a brand you’re following is having a promotion, you might click the link and buy. But that’s promotion. Not marketing. So your role in social media is to use it as a channel to build trust. Create conversations, whether they’re related to your industry or not. Share relevant links, even if they’re not from your own blog. Interact. Give people a reason to seek your brand out on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Press Releases. Sometimes trust is just about being there consistently. Putting out a press release each month can go a long way to say, “Hey! We’re still here doing awesome things.” And while journalists may not be clamoring to publish your news, searching for keywords that lead them to one press release after another from your brand certainly shows that you’re consistent. And consistency is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, is it not?
  • Blogger Relations. If you’re smart enough to be working with bloggers to spread the word about your products or services, kudos. But how you work with them can have just as much impact on your brand as what they think of the product. First off, pay your bloggers. Their time is as valuable as yours. But be there for them too. Make sure they know you’re partners in the blogger outreach campaign you’re working on, and make sure to address any questions or concerns they have before they post. If you build that trust, they’ll go beyond the call of duty for the campaign and talk about your brand on all the social channels, resulting in bonus play for you.

Now WHAT!?

If I’ve put you into a tailspin, don’t worry. Keep doing what you’re doing in marketing, but shift your thinking.  Don’t focus on how many (or few) website visitors that last Facebook contest netted. Instead look at how you built the trust of hundreds of loyal fans. If they are engaged in what you’re doing, you’re successfully building that trust. Keep it up, and those relationships will come to fruition.

100% Customer Retention Guaranteed!!

Customer loyalty and retention are keys to brand success. Treat your customers with respect, and they’ll reward you with loyalty. Listen to them talk online, make your messages appeal to them, give them incentives, and keep in mind that if your current customers are happy it’s without a doubt referrals will follow truly optimizing resources and opportunity.

It’s easier and less expensive to expand and enhance current relationships than bring in new ones. Loyal customers buy more. And more often.

Here’s some tried-and-true tactics to keep your customers happy, prospects interested and business flourishing.

1. Don’t mess with loyalty.

Okay, so a pretty obvious first lesson. But really, don’t take loyalty for granted. Many business owners need to get out of the “we already have them” mind frame and treat their current customers just like they treat prospects. Nourish and flourish.

Even with a successful marketing campaign, people might try you out but it’s only if you build a relationship with the prospects that will get them to come back. In today’s world full of options, a customer can easily choose another provider. And tell all their friends. Don’t take loyalty for granted and don’t underestimate the power of one-on-one relationship building. Customers return when they feel a connection with the brand and when there’s a mutual sense of belonging.

2. Word-of-mouth is not new.

This brings us to the second point. Once you’ve really satisfied customer needs, it’s without a doubt they will tell others about you. If this happened to you with your business, it’s by no means a new discovery. However, the only thing that is actually new unlike previously is that you now have to go the extra mile. Since industries and options are so saturated, it is easily for a customer to take their business elsewhere. And trust us, if you don’t measure up – they will. Your service needs to over deliver in every area because the expectations bar has been sent so high, and can also probably be met by your competitors.

Being good is no longer good enough. You need to do something truly outstanding (and relatable to your market) to really get them talking about you. Once you exceed expectations, customers will be referring their friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers.

3. Listen and help.

The internet offers unlimited possibilities. Brands are now able to actually communicate and listen to their clients and prospects, and we have social media to thank for it. Depending on where your target market hangs out, Twitter or Facebook have been great for monitoring conversation, listening and helping. If a current or even potential customer is having issues and you know what the answer is, lend them a hand even if it doesn’t result in direct business. Trust us; it will pay off in the future. Social media platforms are just one of the many avenues for your business to ask customers what they want and what they like and dislike. You can also include a chat or customer surveys on your website, at the point of sale, in the newsletters, or just simply call a customer up to see how they’re doing. Also, do remember that customers expect you to take action if they complain, especially once you initiated the dialogue.

4. Act human.

It wasn’t until recently that people started associating faces with brands. On a larger scale, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Steve Jobs of Apple are prime example of how to make an organization be associated with a leading face. Meanwhile, other organizations haven’t been as dominant in associating people with their brands (who’s really the face of Google?). Acting human and being able to relate to your customers on a personal level speaks volumes. It says that you’re one of them, bringing them up a level. They feel more comfortable speaking to somebody they can relate to and in return also have more personal attachment. Take advantage of the online platforms in sharing pictures, stories, tips and speaking in anything but a robotic tone. Also, if you don’t have any negative comments – you’re not trying hard enough.

5. What have you done for me lately?

Incentives, incentives, incentives! If you’re nourishing a prospect and engaging him in the early stages, you should not abruptly cut off communication once they sign on. They assume that once a customer is happy, that customer will stay happy and continue to use the services. Wrong! Your customer is always thinking what’s in it for me? So what can you do (or not do) during the customer’s experience? Some of the ways you can continue to interact with customers is through loyalty programs, inside news and perks, special discounts, newsletters, memberships, events – just to name a few.

Let your customers know that their success and satisfaction is important to you. You succeed when they succeed, so you need to do everything you can to keep your customers happy. Use this as a benchmark. When customers are happy, that means the business is doing something right. It’s yet again a simple concept but needs to be instilled into a corporate culture and customer interaction. Take advantage of social media monitoring and communications tools. The sky’s the limit for what it takes to make your customers and prospects happy.