Though social media has evolved, offering us new opportunities for deep and meaningful connection with others, we as brands and businesses have deeply failed our audiences.

Trust in social media was shaken to the core in 2018. From the scandal where Facebook allowed an outside agency to access users’ personal information, to the proliferation of fake accounts on Twitter that led to an enormous purge, it’s no wonder that confidence is waning. Additionally, users are more socially conscious than ever before, and increasingly hold brands accountable for the content they share, the people they follow, and the comments they make. Interestingly (bizarrely?), consumers will also blame a brand for content posted by others, when that content appears in close proximity to the brand’s posts or promotions.

Whether or not we personally feel responsible for these misunderstanding and breaches of privacy, we must still take responsibility to rebuild the trust. The good news is… it can be done. But the more important news? We need to start doing this right now.

Embrace the trend of Rebuilding Trust.

How to Strengthen Trust Among Your Audience

How can we take the necessary steps to ensure that our audiences believe in us, respect our value, and understand that we truly appreciate their loyalty?

  1. Open the door for community conversation.

When you encourage open, honest conversation among your clients, prospects, and followers, you increase faith in your authenticity, leading to trust and loyalty. So how do you do that?

There are many easily accessible platforms that allow for large groups to interact on social media. For example:

  • Facebook groups
  • Organized Twitter chats
  • Private online collaboration hubs, such as Slack, Asana, and Podio

It’s easier than ever to lead your audience and customers to a place where they can interact with each other candidly.

When using any of these communication tools, your job is to act as a facilitator. Get the engagement started and then get out of the way. When you encourage your audience to be honest, YOU appear more honest, and you prove that you value what they have to say.

  1. Embrace livestreaming.

Whether you choose Periscope, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, or Instagram, livestreaming allows your audience to see and hear from you directly. When you appear on-camera to engage with your audiences, it humanizes you like nothing else can. You can respond to questions and concerns, share company news, and acknowledge members of your audience by name! Going live shows that you don’t need to and don’t want to hide anything (instant trust!) and helps you build awareness of your authentic brand quickly.

(Here are some key tips to make sure your livestreaming is the best it can be!)

  1. Consistency is key.

Consistency is not new. But if you want to build and maintain trust, consistency must be king! Inconsistency is a sure way to cause doubt, apprehension, and mistrust.

If you haven’t already, make consistency a priority. This may sound simple, but it’s a layered issue, and all the moving parts need to be working together to be effective.

Here are the areas where you want to be consistent:

  • Frequency: How often do you post? Once a day, eight times a day, three times a week?  Guess what! The exact timetable is not as important as being consistent. Sure, you’ll get in front of more people if you are more active, but consistency is what establishes reliability and confidence. Choose a schedule and stick to it.
  • Branding: Make sure that EVERYTHING you post is in alignment with how you want to be perceived: the core personality and tone of your brand. Each time you post something that contradicts your brand, it confuses your audience, and you need to start building trust from scratch.
  • Message: Stay true to your company’s philosophy, beliefs, and mission. Be consistent with the type of information you share.
  • Engagement: How consistently do you connect? Do you respond to questions in a reliable fashion? Do you thank people whenever they share your information?
  • Across Platforms: All of your social media accounts need to have the same photos, logos, and descriptions. Inconsistency causes confusion and distrust. Consistent information across all channels promotes a positive brand experience and allows trust to develop more quickly.

Unfortunately, people are losing faith in social media. But if we take responsibility for the mistakes that have been made this year (by ourselves and others), we can turn things around. We can connect and engage like never before. We can earn back the trust we’ve lost, and show our audiences that we truly value their loyalty.