Building a brand takes time, effort and good old fashion hard work. Using the online content map you extend your brand's digital presence outward to lend your business credibility. The larger your presence is, the more trust you can develop with your audience.
In the end, building trust and providing value to your audience is what building a brand is all about because… “Trust is Brand, Brand is Trust”.
The Psychology of Trust
While brand awareness is essential in marketing, it is brand trust that should always be the end goal of your marketing strategies. I like to categorize trust into two types: cognitive and emotional trust. Cognitive trust is based on facts and information, while emotional trust is gained through feelings and sensations. As mentioned in a previous blog, trust often contributes most strongly to the decision-making function of our brains.
Simply being present and active on your digital platforms provides the most basic sense of trust. People want to know they can interact with you, get in touch with you, or get more information. Having a digital presence provides all three.
People also feel trust more strongly when their expectations are set at a certain level, and then met consistently (or exceeded). When your digital interactions set these expectations for clients on a regular basis and across mediums, it establishes a sense of reliability.
Lastly, selling does not typically create trust. When you’re selling, you have something to gain. People are highly aware of this, have learned to skip over this content. Instead, by adding value through content, you create a sense of trust that builds up subconsciously over time.
The Psychology of Group Mindsets
People are more likely to trust and like what other people trust and like.
This is a principle that we see each and every day in the digital realm. When a product, company, or public figure takes off and becomes immensely popular, it’s often the “bandwagon” effect that’s responsible. People are initially interested simply because others have shown interest. It’s that intrinsic part of the brain that says, “what does that person know that I don’t?” We’re worried about being left behind, and worse, left out. So how can you harness this?
Relatable and shareable content can lead to this bandwagon effect. If one person feels that the content is valuable enough to share, others in their network will too. This represents how viral content is created. Using this online ripple effect, your brand can gain influence in a wider circle.
This ties into the long-term goals of your marketing campaigns. Once you’ve created credibility with an audience, they will remember you. You’ll be top of mind for them the next time they’re thinking about your products or services. Better yet, your strong digital presence means they’ll know that you’ll be easy to locate when they want more information across platforms.
How Influencers Create Brand Trust
In the last few years, there has been a major shift toward influencer marketing. Influencers are people with a large and dedicated following, and they often have a strong online presence.
They have built their brands on the foundation of validation and trust.
The influencer can then lend their personal credibility to specific brands. The logic of a client or consumer goes like this: I trust this influencer, and this influencer trusts a specific brand. In turn, I can also trust that specific brand.
Creating Brand Validation and Trust through Social Media
So we know that trust is key.
One of the best ways to validate your brand in the online world is through social media marketing. Since social media requires a consistent presence, it’s easy for customers to see that there is truly a person (or persons) behind the brand. To open up accessible lines of communication with you.
However, many businesses forego social media marketing because they view it as time-consuming, without a lot of payoff. Unfortunately, if you’re skipping social media altogether, you may be doing your brand a disservice and losing customers, even in the short term. Consider this: if a buying decision comes down to two similar brands, and your customer does a little online research, they may choose the brand they could interact with on social media. Having a powerful social presence creates so much credibility that you won’t leave a customer to a competitor based on cognitive or emotional trust.
At the end of the day, social media is not about gaining new customers; it’s about not losing potential customers.
A lack of social media presence is even more harmful to your long-term goals. Launching new products or services, creating campaigns and features, and sharing events, sales, and news becomes difficult when you’re in the initial stages of creating a social presence. If you’ve already put the work in to create an engaged audience, to create a social history, creating sharable content to promote specific aspects of your business and create touchpoints is easy.
Social media takes time to build, which is why now is always the ideal time if you haven’t started.
Growing with the Times
Well-established businesses with a solid client base are often most hesitant to create social media accounts (and, in some cases, even websites). Owners often ask: “I’ve never had to do this before, so why should I now?”
Unfortunately, the world in the digital era is rapidly changing. Business has had to change as well. To stay in the hearts and minds of a new wave of digitally-savvy clients, businesses have to pivot their marketing. Door hangers and word-of-mouth still have their place in the business community, but in order to take a market share from the digital world and create a business with lasting impact, you need an engaged online audience.
Even your current clients want this level of digital connection in your business. It renews their sense of trust that you are on the cutting edge of your industry. If you can keep up with technology and digital tools, you can keep up with their emerging needs.
Building a History
Building trust is an activity that requires time. Consider some of your oldest friends as an example. Let’s say you need help moving. You have two options: an old friend you’ve known for years, and a new friend who’s offered to help you.
Even if you believe that your new friend may do a better job, has a bigger truck, or have more slightly more experience moving, you’re likely to choose your long-time friend for the job. You have a history with this person, have built up trust with them. You can predict their behaviour and respond accordingly. It’s the safest play. There are too many unknowns with your new friend, such as how hard they will work, where they get products, etc.
That’s why it’s important to start building your presence early on, or, if you’re late to the game, building a history now.
Even if you’re starting a business, it doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with a background of knowledge and information. If you’re just launching a website and social platforms, take advantage of backdating options on your blog and social media. This allows you to create a history for your business, even if you haven’t been active on your accounts long.
Create content that shows off your expertise, provides value, generates ideas, and focuses on the elements of your business that you already have in place. Also, to save time and resources, repurpose and refresh old content wherever possible. Better yet, weave this content with your brand story to create emotional trust with your audience. If you can start with that, you’re already achieving much more than many established online brands.
And finally, complete your content map. Even if you can’t post regularly on all your platforms, it’s important to create the skeletal outlines of your digital and social media presence. When a person browsing your website can click on a link to your Facebook page, it builds trust. Even if there is very little content there, the person knows you’ve gone to the effort to create the account, and that they can find you there in the future.
Understand the End Results
Before we close off, it’s important to note that if you expect a ton of immediate sales from your brand validation activities, you’ll most likely be disappointed. Most of the above activities aren’t going to immediately impact your bottom line. The purpose of brand validation is to generate trust, which in turn can increase conversions and client retention over time.
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The original blog is posted on Medium: https://medium.com/@jaredvandermeer/trust-is-brand-brand-is-trust-e52faafbc642
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