Social media marketing works, at least in part, because brand messages gain objectivity when shared by your friends through social networks, thus building consumer trust. In order for that de-commercialization to occur, consumers must trust the brand messages. That’s why word of mouth and public relations is so much more powerful — they appear objective and thus, trustworthy.
Gaining consumer trust in social media
As you can see in the chart, consumers trust still trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other type of communication about brands. And the more control brands have over those messages, the less trust consumers have in the message. The more disruptive and less valuable the communication, the less trust consumers have in the message. So, all those text messages, banner ads on websites and mobile apps, company emails and sponsored messages from Google and, now, Facebook, don’t pass the sniff test with consumers in much of the world.
Consumers learned over the years that brands lie. Brands exaggerate their performance and fudge test results to favor the brand. No wonder consumers don’t trust what brands say.
Does that mean social media marketing doesn’t work?
Of course not. What it means is brands need to focus on earning recommendations from consumers rather than spewing their message through the internet and social media.
Lessons for your social media marketing strategy
So, what does the importance of building consumer trust mean for your social media marketing strategy?
Really nothing new. If you’ve read posts on these pages, you’ll see my advice concentrates on generating earned social media marketing, rather than paid social media marketing. That’s because this social media marketing strategy works! And, nothing in this study points to any chinks in the strategy.
A focus on earned social media mentions is not only more trustworthy than other forms of communication, it builds engagement that earns additional social media mentions, it boosts website visits and improves SERPS (where your website shows up in organic search), and increases visibility for your message.
Tools to earn social media mentions
- Authenticity – post as a “real” person and build brand personality.
- Provide value- value generally falls into one of these categories: information, entertainment, status, support, positive emotion.
- Build engagement.
- Focus on your market, not your brand – celebrate your market, support them, give them value. Don’t talk about yourself all the time. In fact, recommendations suggest 90%+ of your communications should be about your market.
- Blog — if your website doesn’t contain a blog, consider adding one. A blog is an excellent source for sharing value, plus it drives more traffic to other parts of your website — organic search results are considered fairly trustworthy
- Ease the task of recommending your brand and passing those recommendations on to consumers’ social graphs.
- Listen and learn about your target audience. Monitor brand sentiment and respond to customer queries or complaints 24/7.
- Motivate loyal customers to share about your brand.
- Don’t forget marketing starts well before you get online. Social media marketing requires a strong focus on building quality products, providing superior service, selling at the right price in the right place at the right time, solving consumer problems, and communicating customer value. If you’re missing any one of these elements, take a step back to focus on getting your marketing right before taking the show online.
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