A strong ability to influence your social network nets you high social currency. This social influence doesn’t just translate into a high number of followers and engagements, but can directly impact of your company’s bottom line and potential for long-term success.
Business is no longer B2B or B2C. Purchasing power is in the hands of people, and business is now P2P, or person-to-person. Success in business is dependent on personal relationships. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family.
The communication gap between brands and consumers has largely disappeared. Consumers go to social before they buy because they can get access to information about your company and reviews on how others whom they trust experience shopping with you. They don't go to your website; they go to the key influencers talking about your business.
So, how do you crack the code to become a trustworthy social influencer?
Get beneath what you sell, and into the core of why you do what you do. Draw your audience towards you with your contagious passion for why you do what you do. If you are only focused on what you sell, the communication and connection with your audience will be too superficial to build social influencer standing.
If you grow and sell tea, then share why you are passionate about tea. Perhaps it’s the fine flavor variations in tea from specific regions of the world; perhaps it’s the health benefits of herbal or green teas; or perhaps it’s the beauty of the tea ceremony and the tradition of slow living.
Purpose is a strong motivator in attracting a community of like-minded people who share your values and can help bring your cause and business to life. Give your audience a way to connect and be part of your purpose. If you talk about a product on your company Facebook page, drive the context back to your purpose. Why is it that sharing this product with your followers is important? If it's to sell more product, you're not digging deep enough. Underneath the desire to sell more is your true purpose.
Give from an authentic place. Consider what your audience needs or feels inspired about. Without a self-serving motive, we connect with people on a deeper level. If you keep this behavior consistent over time, you develop trust and loyalty with your audience and community. And, that’s what you need—people who are loyal to you, who come back again and again, and who act as your ambassadors. Clear your attachment to a particular outcome and your customers will share on your behalf on their own.
Trust can be built over time by maintaining consistent behavior at all touch points with people internal and external to your business. These touch points include your website, social media profiles, marketing materials, products, packaging, displays, visual communication, employee treatment—and most importantly, your team's behavior. People buy from people they trust.
Evaluate your business on the Trust Equation below, so you can determine the current standing of your company's trust-building ability. From here you can create an agenda to improve the areas of weakness.
- Credibility: This is the expertise you share with your audience. How knowledgeable are you in your field? Does your audience see you as a credible expert? Do they listen to you?
- Reliability: Are you consistent in frequency, tone of voice, and visual style in all touch points? Do you follow through and deliver what you promise every time?
- Intimacy: This is your ability to make someone feel comfortable enough to open up and be themselves towards you.
- Self-Orientation: Where is your focus? If you focus more on others, you come across as more trustworthy.
Random acts of social media don't work. If your goal is to increase your social influencer status, then you need to create a plan. Before you plan, though, work through each of the above stages. Observe yourself, your brand, your employees, and all your communication touch points thoroughly. Be honest with yourself. Identify your weaknesses and create an action plan to improve these areas. Continue to observe and fine tune behaviors over time.
Look at this period of improvement as a playful process of imperfection. There is no final perfection; it's simply a lifelong process of fine tuning.