How Brands Can Build (or Rebuild) Trust
In an era when online fraud, misinformation, and data breaches are common, consumers are less trusting than they used to be. Brands can use social media to overcome this widespread distrust – or to rebuild a damaged reputation – but it takes time and consistent effort.
A Lesson from an Iconic Brand
Nike, now the largest athletic apparel manufacturer in the world, seemed like it might not survive a late 1990s public relations fiasco. Protestors had brought to light the fact that Nike’s Asian manufacturing plants were using child laborers, abusing workers, and paying workers almost nothing. Initially, then-CEO of Nike Phil Knight didn’t accept full responsibility for the working conditions in Asia. But in an about-face in 1998, he made a public statement acknowledging Nike’s negligence, and in doing so, he began to rebuild trust in the brand.
Today, Nike continues to foster trust through several social channels. Its Instagram account focuses not on its products, but on athletes and their personal stories. Nike also funds several initiatives for underserved communities, promotes diversity in athletics, and publishes an annual report detailing its corporate impact.
While much of Nike’s image rebrand happened before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram existed, the company’s strategy is applicable for social media: Do good, focus on people, and be transparent.
Own Your Mistakes
When someone makes a negative remark about you on social media, how do you respond? Or do you respond at all? If you’re not actively monitoring social platforms, you may be missing out on opportunities to respond to criticism.
If someone makes a negative comment about you on social media, you should:
- Immediately thank them for bringing the matter to your attention
- Tell them what you intend to do next (research the complaint, follow-up within a day, send them a private message in order to gather more detail, etc.)
- Apologize publicly (and sincerely) if you made a mistake
Remember that other social media users are watching this exchange unfold – the way you handle it could have a big impact on their trust in your brand.
Behind every successful brand is a team of talented people. Use your social channels to highlight employees and talk about their interests. Make a short video of something fun happening at the office. Share photos of your team’s volunteer activities.
Pay attention to followers and like/comment on their posts. If you’re on Instagram and you see someone mentioned you, direct message that follower and ask if you can reshare their post (that’s usually an ego boost for followers).
Educate and Inform
According to a 2019 survey of 33,000 people worldwide, 40 percent of respondents said they actively consume news and information more than once a week and share or post content several times a month. Creating informative, educational, or entertaining content that people want to share is a great strategy for expanding your reach and building trust.
Have a Plan
Nike’s return to glory would not have been possible without a solid plan. Brands using social media to build trust need – at the very least – a content calendar, the talent to produce that content, and a clear idea about their objectives.