Trust has become a pretty sensitive topic in the press. It’s in everything we see and do, from your accountant to the online platforms you use every day. We rely on these things more and trust them less. And, certainly, who can blame us? Fake news is a plague and our biggest social media platforms are sucking us dry for our data. Which begs the question – how, exactly, can you go about building trust in your brand online when it isn’t already well established?
Trust Is Incremental
It’s a rare thing to trust a website if you’ve never heard of it before. In fact, if it’s your first time visiting a site, your level of trust will be directly related to your previous exposure to the brand. That’s because building trust in your brand is an incremental process.
Just look at Apple. People will flock to Sign-In With Apple because they’ve built that trust with their users. Their long term commitment to privacy is the perfect example. Trust is gained or lost every time you advertise, every time you blog, and with every sale you make. Every time you perform these tasks successfully, your audience will defer to you ever so slightly more than they did before. And that’s why Apple’s base is so loyal.
You Are The Services You Use
I’ll explain this one by way of a story. My wife loves professional development. She loves to learn about it, to mentor others, and join organizations focussed on it. So it was natural that one day as she surfed Instagram, she clicked on an ad for a new women’s professional association and set up a call with a sales rep. When the call came, it took about 5 minutes for her to realize it was a scam. The result? She doesn’t click on Instagram ads anymore because she doesn’t trust them.
I think we all know by now that scams happen every day. Social platforms will never be able to identify every advertiser that’s trying to take advantage of others. But as more fishy stuff squeezes through the cracks, users will find themselves more cautious of any ad they see. This means that you can be the most ethical company in the world, but if you advertise on a platform with a bad reputation, you may collect that reputation as well. Choose wisely.
This is a tough one for many people. Society tells us (especially Americans) that we need to put up a front. You’re not allowed to be having a bad day. You’re expected to enjoy your 60 hour work week. Don’t know how to do something? Unacceptable! But, in my experience, trust is gained so much faster by a simple showing of imperfection.
Does that mean you should stick to your corner? Never try anything new? Certainly not, but it’s definitely a question of balance. Richard Branson famously said, “If you don’t know how to do something, say yes and learn how to do it later.” While he’s absolutely right about that, it bears mentioning that this belief should be balanced against your current skillset. Are you a programmer, but you don’t know PHP? Say yes and learn it along the way. Are you a writer, and someone’s asking you to program their app? Consider that person’s time, and understand that they (probably) aren’t paying you to learn an entirely new skill set. Because if you say yes blindly, your reputation can take a nose dive pretty fast.
There’s a simple rule here, that I believe encompasses all three of these points pretty well:
Just don’t be an asshole.
Believe it or not, most people are incredibly flexible if you’re honest with them. But the minute you lie, any trust you’ve gained over months or years of hard work dissipates. Building trust in your brand requires you to always be on your game. Which is a simple thing, as long as you’re honest.