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5 Ways To Build Trust on Social Media To Create Loyalty

Hélène Heath
January 10, 2018
Last Updated On
Woman getting her makeup touched up at a photoshoot

Social media and customer loyalty go hand in hand. It's the modern medium that helps brands harness emotional engagement when building trust with their consumer base.

Social media tips the scales in favor of loyalty marketing, and below we're relaying five pointers on how to build trust with your audience.

White house with big deck and pool in The Bahamas
Airbnb uses social channels like Instagram to emphasize community and humanity. Its strong brand narrative draws in audiences and business continues to grow.

How To Build Trust on Social Media

We all know that to build a consumer-facing business in this day and age, you need good marketing. Businesses that don't display a point of view or don't stand for anything will not go very far with the top demographic of our modern times, Millennials.

Even if your product or service does not currently target this group, it's bound to one day when the population ages, and, well, they won't have the same habits as their predecessors. You should be trying to reach millennial consumers one way or another, and that begins and ends with social media marketing.

This demographic is the largest of all time and is projected to account for 24 trillion dollars in total wealth by the year 2020, with a current annual spend of 200 billion dollars. Simply put, that's insanely stratospheric. And way bigger than any previous generation that came before.

What's tricky, however, is that everything has changed from the time that Gen Y's elders held all the buying power. This has resulted in much marketing turmoil, mainly from older brands that struggled to connect with these new consumers, failing to understand how to reach them in meaningful ways.

If we take for example businesses that have experienced tremendous success with brand loyalty through various uses of social media (think Away, Reformation, Spotify, Glossier, Everlane, and Airbnb, to name a few), they have a few common denominators: they are industry disruptors, they've mastered the art of visual storytelling on social, they develop clever and innovative marketing campaigns, they share great content that derives from their brand values, and manage to evoke emotion in people between all of it.

If today's consumer lives on visual social platforms like Instagram, that's where brands need to focus a lot of their attention to improve customer loyalty. It's where most emotional connections are created with them by way of compelling visual narratives. The benefits of social media marketing can prove to be enormous when building customer relationships that lead to creating customer loyalty.

In 2018, social media and brand loyalty are to be observed as a dynamic duo if businesses want to build trust with their customers. If you're struggling on that front, look no further. Below we're sharing 5 effective ways brands can connect with social followers on an emotional level and drive loyalty.

Everlane billboard of female model and female empowering quote
This post leaves no doubt as to who Everlane is as a brand. No surprise that its customers are devoted to the label.

1. Be Authentic

The term 'authenticity' has never been more prevalent than in recent years, especially when describing what Millennials are drawn to. But what does brand authenticity really mean? It's a good question, as words can lose their impact when overused.

Brand authenticity refers to a certain purity of character, emphasizing honesty and straightforwardness in marketing. Millennials can easily detect insincere brand intentions, much like a hog sniffing out truffles. They are drawn to genuine stories—purposeful narratives from the founding team that permeate every aspect of the company. They seek messaging that truthfully reflects the values the brand claims to uphold.

This leads to my next point...

2. Be Human

There is nothing worse than a generic, unrelatable consumer-facing brand. Humanizing your interactions and customer marketing touchpoints, especially on social media channels, will help you make those important trust-building connections.

Audiences want to know that there are actual humans behind their favorite brands. They love being able to interact with them and getting glimpses into the synergy behind the curtain. This explains why BTS content is always a mega-hit, and why the preferred method of communication with customer service is over social media.

I think we can all agree that robotic interactions (or the complete absence thereof!) are far from pleasant, they're frustrating, and worst of all, they're appalling. Show that you care about your tribe by including its members in conversations, and put your brand personality on display to humanize it.

3. Be Transparent

In today's market, customers care about much more than the end product. They want to know where it's made, who made it, what the work conditions are, how long it took from start to finish, what the cost of the supply chain is, what the carbon footprint of each item is... the list goes on.

Customers as so well informed (thanks, technology!) that not relaying all the important facts can hurt a business. Gone are the days when people could sweep flaws under a corporate rug. Access to information is pervasive and expected, and if a company doesn't provide satisfactory answers to consumers' line of questioning, they're going to go spend their money elsewhere without batting an eyelash.

Social channels, especially visual ones like Instagram, provide brands with the perfect platform to spread their ethos and answer customer queries — both preemptively and after being posed. It gives them a chance to air their message through an authentically crafted (see point #1) visual narrative.

Seamstress of Reformation working in the factory
This is Reformation being both human and transparent all at once. *Drops mic *.

4. Use UGC

In case you haven't heard, user-generated content is a very effective method to make your products appealing. When people see an item portrayed in a lifestyle scene by a real person, as opposed to a run-of-the-mill product shot, it enables them to portray themselves in that same scenario. In short, UGC drives sales. In long, it does much more than that.

By repurposing posts that have been created by Instagrammers (whether organically or through a collaboration), you are relaying that you are a community member, a team player, and a love spreader. You are telling your followers that you value the content they create in your name and reciprocating the affection they're showing you by giving them a shoutout. Do it on your permanent feed or in your Insta Stories.

Buyer beware: when repurposing a piece of earned content in which you've been tagged, the proper etiquette is to both tag the photo AND @ mention the account in the caption. You can even go one step further and DM that person to get their permission, which they will very much appreciate.

If you're a plant retailer, don't start posting about tacos. Not only would this be super confusing, but diverting from your area of expertise can make you lose all credibility. And once that's gone, there goes the trust. It takes a long time to build and the smallest thing to destroy it.

You want to focus on crafting a narrative that positions you as a category thought-leader. You want your audience to be able to reference you as the authority in your field. Gotta stay in your lane if that's gonna be the case, you feel me?

Woman in a towel showing Glossier 'Body Hero' product
Glossier often compliments its Instagram gallery with high-quality UGC repurposed from its super-engaged audience. The brand's community is one of the most engaged we've ever seen, and the brand can do no wrong in their eyes.

In times when the biggest consumer demographic is seeking experiences with brands and is drawn to authenticity, a business with no vision is one with no future. Members of this generation are looking for things they can connect with that make them feel something. And lucky for today's companies, they have a direct line of communication: social media.

Make it count.

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