How does social media affect trust and your brand?

By Contributing {grow} Columnist “Social Steve” Goldner

You want successful social media marketing for your company or brand?  Think “Trust Marketing.”  You can say you heard it here on the {grow} blog first.

In 2009, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith released their book Trust Agents.  This book focused on trust as it relates to influence.  In other words, brands need to identify the people that they want on their side.  This is extremely important and digital influence and outreach is a key service that I provide in the social media practice I head up at MediaWhiz.

But I am talking about something different here.  Brands need to work on building their own customer trust as well.  When you look up the meaning of trust you’ll see it is defined as “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.”

Stop and think of your brand’s position.  What do the people inside your company say … and what is the actual perception outside of the company?  Trust Marketing is about delivering “integrity, ability, and surety” on your brand position.  Trust Marketing is also about enhancing the customer experience such that your customers have “confidence” in your brand.

So how does social play into the scheme of Trust Marketing?  Social media presents the opportunity for a brand to reinforce what they are about.  Take your brand position.  (I hope you and everyone at your company know specifically what it is.)  Is that position reality or just some well crafted advertising slogan?  In today’s digitally social world, everyone knows the difference between the two and many talk.  Does the social voice and what people say in the digital world support your position as defined by your company or negate it?

I’ve mentioned the following a number of times on my SocialSteve Blog … I once had a boss that said to me, “Steve, you’ll be no good in marketing.  You are too honest.”  That always motivated me to work with the product team to deliver the best damn product our target segment could get.  To deliver meaningful and differentiated value and benefit.  Then, market and promote the brand and the value the brand delivers to its customers.   This is the essence of a solid marketing foundation.

As a marketing executive facing a world of massive digital participation, I see greater opportunity for marketing to be an important aspect of changing customer behavior to drive transactions.  Social media provides strong channels to continuously communicate the important attributes associated with your offering and quietly align your brand with those factors important to your audience.  This is the distinction between advertising marketing and trust marketing.

I always think back to a marketing effort that is often used in B2B — the production of a “white paper.”  A white paper is an informative two- or three-pager that states a problem and then a solution for a problem.  The problem it addresses is typically one that is often experienced by the brand’s target audience.  After the solution is stated, the communication softly states “if you are experiencing a similar challenge, talk to one of the representatives regarding how we can help,” or something similar in nature.

I suggest the same guidance for Trust Marketing.  Use your social media channels to consistently deliver value to your audience.  Address issues that are prevalent to your audience.  Do not use your social media channels to sell, but continue to associate your brand with the advice and information you provide.  The mere relationship between the content you provide and the identity of your blog, social network, community, Twitter, etc. is the opportunity to reinforce what your brand stands for.  It is a long term effort.  You need to emphasize knowledge of issues and prove you can provide benefits and solutions.  This creates a trust between brand and customers.

If you want to produce a strong brand-customer bond, one that goes well beyond a single purchase transaction, start to think about the activities to engage in building a strong trust.  Think Trust Marketing.

Steve Goldner is the Senior Director at MediaWhiz where he leads the social media practice. Steve has been a marketing executive for the past 20+ years and engaged in social media for the last four. You can follow him on Twitter @SocialSteve and visit his blog at


Illustration: “Trust Me” a very cool art installation by Steve Lambert

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