When was the last time someone came up to you and said that you are part of their inner circle of life? The circle that they trust without questioning? The circle that is almost sacred? Being in someone’s circle of trust is almost like an honour. A responsibility. You will continually try and live up to the expectations that is placed on you. It can be a challenging task, but a sweet one at that.
Brand communication is no different. More so on social media. So much so, that when Google decided to have its own networking platform, it asked users to put their contacts in circles. Google wanted to translate the real world ecosystem on to Google +. While at an individual level most of us classified our contacts into circles such as family, business, college, influences etc. the bigger question was, will the brands find a place in our circles?
Of late, Social Media communication has boiled down to this one fundamental question. Do the users/consumers trust the brands they follow online? Also, and more importantly, are the brands doing anything on social media to be considered trustworthy? In the days when traditional media was the only communication route, trust was developed more through product usage rather than brand communication.
Today, though, things are very different. Consumers are spending a lot of time online. They are reading up on brands, listening to what people have to say about them and asking questions to these brands before making that key decision of buying the product. It is therefore mandatory that the brands are honest, open and responsive to consumer scrutiny.
How to do this?
While it is easy to say that brands need to be honest and open on Social Media, achieving it is not that easy. With so much information being added to digital world every day, not slipping up for one minute is becoming increasingly difficult for brands. But it is this effort, of trying not to slip up even in one instance, is what consumers are looking for. An honest effort of becoming a friend whom we can trust, is all that consumers look for.
So when you see a video on a Facebook page of a bank ATM patiently listening to a customer talk about his cancer stricken sister and then proceeds to help that customer, you feel connected. You see the effort being put in by the brand to be an honest friend, who will be there for you when you need him/her. Social Media brand communication is all about simplicity. It is about adding value to your consumers’ life such as a moment of happiness, an inspiring thought or a simple patient hearing in any possible manner. This is all it takes to be responsive and honest.
With more and more brands choosing social media as a route of communication, quite a few brands have been able to establish a trustworthy relationship with their consumer. While traditional brands champions such as Coca Cola, Apple and Nike have maintained their superior communication efforts on digital channels, few other brands such as Carlsberg, American Airlines and Oreo have managed to connect with the customers with honest effort of being part of the society and thereby gaining the trust and confidence of the consumer.
Of course, one can never forget that social media romance will only last as long as the product is good enough to have a lasting relationship with. No matter how well you execute your social media presence, if there is no honesty in the product/service that a brand offers, there is no way the brand will gain trust with the consumers. So while you can say that you listen to your consumers and you will act on it, not doing anything that adds value to the consumers’ life will only come back to haunt you for over promising and under delivering. As a mantra, keep this simple equation in mind:
H2O = Trust
Where H is honesty and hard work and O is Opportunity to add value! And like in real life, H2O will be your lifesaver.