Earning Your Community’s Trust

text based graphic with same text as in post

Every brand needs a community. On social media, this need is elevated, with community support and trust being one of the key indicators of a business’s success. However, building community trust is not as easy as we’d like it to be. More often than not, the process takes years of engagement and active effort before you start seeing tangible results. So how do you go about building trust? We spoke to digital marketing strategist Jen Cole to explain all about community. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Topic: Earning your community’s trust
Guest: Jen Cole
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What does it mean to earn community trust on social media?

To earn your community’s trust means to be there for them consistently. Whether they want answers to tough questions or help with your services and support during a crisis, you have to be there for your community when they need you—that’s how you develop trust.

Q2: What’s the difference between trust and credibility?

Though often used interchangeably, credibility differs ever so slightly from trust. Trust refers to your longer-term image, whereas credibility is associated more with your content sources and references. For instance, when you build trust, your community will expect any content you share to be from credible sources. They’ll trust that you’ve verified sources before citing them. Being credible is a way of building trust—as you consistently share credible content, you become more credible as a brand and that’ll help your audience develop trust in you.

Catherine put it well. Trust is a by-product of building relationships. Credibility is the first step to building those relationships. When your audience realizes that you’re a credible brand, they’ll engage with you more. As you get to know your community and they get to know you, you develop mutual trust.

Q3: How important is it for a brand to be trusted by its community?

Community trust can make or break a brand. When people trust you as a brand, they’ll recommend you to their friends because they know they can rely on you to do well. And when your business is doing well, they’ll be the first ones to cheer you on.

As our friends from iThemes put it, trust is important because that leads to relationships that keep your business running. In many ways, trust is the foundation of a successful business.

Q4: What consequences does a brand face when it fails to build trust actively?

The biggest and not-immediately-obvious consequence is that you’ll lose your community’s advocacy. If you’re not actively working to build trust, your community won’t have a reason to be loyal to you. As a result, they may not be promoting your brand as you’d like them to.

Julie from Nimble added that you might see engagement decreasing, interest in your brand waning, and purchases falling. Once people lose trust in your brand, it can be harder to re-build that trust.

Q5: What are some ways a brand can build and earn trust?

Be present and transparent. People value those two traits more than anything from a brand. If your brand is going through a rough patch, be open about it. If your brand’s doing well, share the happy news. Either way, make your community feel like they’re involved in it so that they have a reason to care.

One of the most common problems brands face is that they expect to be perfect. As Gail reminded us, it’s ok for you to be imperfect—that just shows you’re human. Whether you’re telling stories, doing videos, or sharing opinions in Twitter chats, don’t let the fear of getting things wrong or imperfect hinder you from engaging with your community.

Q6: What are some don’ts for a brand trying to build trust?

There’s a whole list, but the most important ones are, don’t get defensive and don’t ignore or shut down constructive feedback. Instead, show up regularly and treat your community as you would like to be treated. Make time for your social media community.

Alyx from Charlie Appel Agency added a few more great don’ts, including being inconsistent with your voice and messaging and promoting subpar partnerships and dodgy products.

Q7: How do you know if your community trusts you?

When your community trusts and likes you, you’ll know right away. Just keep an eye and an ear out for people who post about you, tag you in conversations, engage with your content, show up to your events regularly, and are genuinely thrilled when you do well.

The technical name for this is social listening, as our friends from GiveWP told us. Set up alerts for when your brand is mentioned, follow hashtags closely related to your brand or industry, and keep a Twitter List of your customers and close advocates to know who’s singing your praises and who wants you to improve more.

Q8: How can a brand recover after losing its community’s trust?

It can be hard. That’s why it’s important to be transparent and genuine about what went wrong and what you’re doing to make things better. Acknowledge the issue, apologize, and engage with your audience so they know you care about them and are trying to fix things.

One of the most important parts of rebuilding trust is listening to what your audience wants, as Madalyn reminded us. Learn what they expect from you and make sure to deliver. And of course, know that it’ll take some time. You can’t rebuild trust overnight.

Well, that’s all from me, folks. Thanks for reading through, and for more insights from our chat with Jen, have a look at this Twitter thread. If you think this summary is pretty good, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us every Thursday at 1pm ET on #TwitterSmarter. Afterward, we also hang out on Twitter Spaces at 5pm ET to continue our chat. Catch you there!