In the new economy there is one major truth that stands above the rest. Trust equals revenue. If you are a small to mid-sized business it is the amount of trust you can build between clients that strengthens your brand.
With trust comes happy clients and with happy clients come referrals. Trust is a fundamental block of building business. Marketing is built under the assumption that stories can create an emotional bond between a consumer and a brand... a client and a service. Can you tell a story... create a service and en experience that builds trust?
Social media can help you build that trust.
Content is the number one way you can build trust with potential clients. By creating meaningful and thought provoking content you are building a bridge to later sell that person on your services. Talk about what you do on a daily basis. When I say you.. it means you are writing and communicating stories that happen to you on a daily basis.
2. Tell A Story
The stories surrounding your company are the only thing that creates differences between the competition. It is extremely important that you allow for your clients to tell your story for you. The people who love what you do... and the people you serve... are the best people to tell the story of your company. Forget about mission statement and vision statements... ASK your clients.
This can also pertain to content or how you use a specific social network. Be human. The people who are interested in your thoughts and suggestions want to know about you as a person. They could care less about a sale you are having or the amount of money you can cut off their bottom line. They want to know how you helped LARRY the plumber or Susan the account.
4. Picture of Your Day
When you are using social networks make sure you put up pictures of your daily life. If you have a cell phone with a camera takes some pictures of your daily routine and share them with your connections. Just don't over do it. We can only look at so many professional business or glamor shots in a day.
5. Picture of You
Use your real picture. I don't know how many times I have said this. Don't use your logo. There is only one exception to this rule. If you are usingTwitter for your business and personal (see my company @Brandswag for an example). Also, do not use a glamor shot from the 1908s. We ALL know you are lying... the only person you are trying to fool... is yourself.
6. Saying Thank You
If somebody helps you share information or decideds to retweet a post.. make sure you thank that person. They are helping you spread the word... they are your online evangelists.. If you miss a thank you.. don't let it kill you.. but try to make the most of the people that help you out.
7. Do Not Auto-DM on Twitter
See my post... I hate Twitter Auto-DM
8. No Hard Selling
I don't care about your enewsletter or the new lotion you are selling. Also, just because I reply to a tweet or a message does not mean you can message me back and sell your wares. Social media is a long sell process. You are developing content in order to gain an order of trust with people in your area of influence. We are now experiencing a relationship driven economy... get on the train.
9. Time is Important
Remember that you are building relationships.. do not trust the people that tell you to add 1023920 friends and make $10,000 a month. It is a load of crap. Build your following slowly... create relationships in an online environment that can be transferred offline.
10. Criticism is Important
You will be criticized. It is a truth of open communication. Take it with stride and respond. If you are debated... make sure you debate back. Stand up for what you believe and you will gain trust with the people who are listening.... and watching.
11. Have fun
Good Lord... is it that hard? You have the ability to connect with thousands... and thousands... and thousands of people from every nationality... and life experience. Just imagine your ability to expand your knowledge base and learn?!
One thought: If you are not enjoying and having fun with what you do... quit... go find something else.
12. Send a Handwritten Note
People are thanked and communicated with on a daily basis through social media. If I need someone to thank... I usually send them a message or an email. It is very rare that I will get a thank you card in the mail from someone on social media. Talk about building trust and setting yourself apart!
13. Guest Post on Another Blog
There are times when you can write different posts for other blogs in order to reach a new audience. It can help you build trust and brand awareness if your content is shared on other sites other than your own blog. This shows other people believe in your content.
14. Send Out Random Surveys to Your Clients and Readers
There are plenty of sites that have services for survey design and distribution. It is important that you ask your readers and clients to contribute to the business planning process through social media. It is important that you know what they are thinking... you also want them to understand you care.
15. Be Aware of Your Search Engine Rankings
If a client or potential client is researching social media and your name is ranked for the search terms... you are building trust. Check out Slingshot SEO if you are wanting some help in the world of search engine marketing.
16. Comment on Other Blogs
Comments on blogs and websites allow for your name and ideas to be spread at a faster pace. This is old news in terms of marketing on the Internet... it is known around the world that if you post comments... you will receive more traffic. Post 1-2 a week on your favorite blog.
17. Get Involved in Your Community and Share on Social
Community development and participation is key when building a business. It is the community whether online or offline that drives business for every small business owner. Get involved in your community and share your involvement on social media. This could mean that you share a picture of attending a fundraising event on Twitter or Facebook. You can also get involved with Causes via Facebook.
18. Be Responsive in Your Social Media Use
Olson finds that when only text is available, participants judge trustworthiness based on how quickly others respond. So, for instance, it is better to respond to a long Facebook message “acknowledging” that you received the message, rather than to wait until there’s time to send a more thorough first message. Wait too long and you are likely to be labeled “unhelpful,” along with a host of other expletive-filled attributions the mind will happily construct.
It is important to remember that being responsive is huge. When a problem is happening on social media... it is happening.. NOW.
19. Do Not Over-share Your Content
We want to know what you are doing but we REALLY don't what to know what you are doing.... does that make sense? There is only so much content you can share on a daily basis. Unfortunately there are no true laws (or rules) that apply to each social networking site. In my book Twitter Marketing for Dummies, I write about the 4-1-1 rule... for every six pieces of content you share (4 should be from other people, 1 should be your content, 1 should be content from your industry).
20. Be Findable
It is important that your social profiles are findable when an individual is searching for you whether through Twitter or Google. Check out this post by DigitalTattoo on being finable online.
21. Create a Facebook Group for Your Circle of Trust
We all have a circle of people that we trust to network and drive leads to our business. I have a set group of 10-15 people that I ask constantly for leads and I help them bridge connection for sales and business development. Create a Facebook Group to help drive 24/7 conversation between the group. It is important to create deeper and meaningful relationships with your core supporters.
You must first understand the new functionality of Facebook Groups. David Armano has a great post on the Harvard Business Review describing the new Facebook Groups.
Please add to this list!