November 29, 2012

Inspiration believe stoneIt is well known that people do business with other people whom they like and trust. But how do you create and keep that trust, especially before someone is a client of yours? It turns out that correct usage of social media is one of the crucial means of creating trust before a sale, and of keeping trust after a sale.

Executive social media

A recent poll determined that more than 80% of consumers were favourably or very favourably inclined to trust companies whose executive officers used social media to communicate the goals, vision, and values of a business. That translated to 77% of consumers saying they were favourably or very favourably inclined to buy from such a company. Note that this doesn’t refer to the designated social media person talking about what is going on at the company. The executive officers are the ones who set the policies, strategy, and vision for the company. They should be using social media to explain what they have decided the company should do, and why. This is akin to the way that publicly traded companies analyse the past year and why the year to come will be different in their annual stock reports.

Confusion equals distrust

Consumers like to know what they’re getting from a company. They have certain expectations regarding advertisements, and certain expectations regarding informational content. When a company blurs the lines between advertising and content, such as by creating “advertorials” (paid advertisements that look like news pieces) or product comparisons that are highly skewed in favour of their own products (for example, by failing to mention the areas in which their competitor’s product outperformed their product), customers lose trust in the company.

The worst offenders in this category are online videos, which look like informational content but are revealed to be advertising at some point after the viewer begins watching. About 85% of the people surveyed by MediaBrix regarding this topic reported that they had fallen prey to this deception. Coincidentally, only about 15% of the people who saw such videos approved of the company that created it, with a whopping 85% of the people neutrally or negatively impacted.

Right and wrong social media

Other categories of line-blurring that people objected to, in order from most severe to least, included advertorials, infomercials, Facebook sponsored stories, and Twitter promoted tweets. Refrain from trying to lure a few extra eyeballs to your website by using these strategies, since the backlash can cause more damage than you gain.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t use Facebook sponsored stories, or Twitter promoted tweets. They can be an excellent way to increase the visibility of your information to your fan base. But make it clear to your reader whether the story or tweet is advertising or content. Do that, and you’ll increase their trust of your company.





Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy


(Image: MorgueFile)

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