So one of the first steps of becoming a Trust Agent is to hang out where your audience is and listening to what they have to say, this involves a little research on your part or a company that will do it for you. It is amazing that some companies really don’t know who their audience is. But with the web and social media your audience is already having conversations about you. As a business it is your job to know what they are saying and to ” join the conversation”. There are many tools regarding monitoring social media; Vocus has a really good monitoring tool and so does Radian 6 if you just do a google search for Social Media monitoring you will get over 10 million results. For those of you with low or no budgets get yourself a Gmail account at gmail.com and then that account will allow you to set up a free listening station at google.com/reader.
One of the big things to understand about this new world of business, customers and web is to understand “Transparency” In the book Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith it states:
Companies must acknowledge that they are as naked on the Web as individuals are. This shouldn’t be a surprise; any new medium you jump in to changes the way you are seen. But since the Web is active 24/7 and has cameras on all angles, it’s difficult for anyone to hide.
We have become a nation of distrust and it is up to the companies to build that trust with their audience. There was a study by IBM that discovered an interesting trend. 71% of 18 to 24 year olds spend more than 2 hours online compared to 48% of this group who spend 2 hours watching TV. Here is the kicker ” One-third of them (32%) received advice about where to go on the Web mostly from friends.”
As a company it would be a good idea to become their friend or at least to build trust in the communities and places they are visiting online . You do this by answering their questions about your company and commenting on things you read (both good and bad) remember to always respond positively and truthfully. If you can’t do anything about something your audience is complaining about, tell them why you can’t and how they might get around it, but by all means Be Honest! The Web and Social Media is truly a place where “your sins will find you out”. And if they are praising you, thank them and give them something in return so they will tell others what a great company you are.
Another way to build trust is to develop your brand to fit your audience. Another way to look at it is to make them feel good about you and your company Coca Cola and Virgin do a great job at this providing communities on their website and having accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Virgin has branded Richard Branson on FB.
It’s all about hanging out and talking with (not at) your audience. Wherever they are online and yes where they network. It never hurts to go do a Face 2 Face at places your audience hangs out at.
So the audience is the key. Remember that whether you are talking to them online or in person they are people who want to know that you care about them and what they believe in. One last bit of advice, that I do a whole training around, but figure it is relevant to mention here:
Individuals make decisions on buying; Companies don’t!
Whether you are B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer) the individual is who you have to hang out with and have a conversation with in order for them to trust you before they will buy your service or product.
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