One of the biggest benefits of social media is a company's ability to develop social trust. When hundreds or even thousands of people post and tweet positive things about a business, others are sure to take notice and trust that companies product and service claims.
But the flipside is also true in that if you have hundreds or even thousands of people posting and tweeting negative things about your company, others are sure to take notice of that too. The good news is that you have some control over what customers say about you... as long as you keep the elements of trust and truth strong.
Unfortunately, many companies today compete on price, and that often causes them to stretch the truth or mislead the customer and that will have a negative impact on trust. For example, in order to compete on price, many businesses list their lowest fee, and then in very small print they disclose the additional fees. They know the vast majority of people will never read the Additional Fees section. And, of course, if you're an aging baby boomer, it's likely you won't even be able to see the small type, much less read it.
Airlines and their baggage fees are well-known examples of this strategy. They post the cost of the flight, but then when you check in, you get surcharges and baggage fees that were not disclosed when you purchased the ticket.
Today, thanks to social media, it's very easy to spread the word about a non-disclosed fee (or anything that breaks trust or isn't truthful) and create a minor revolt that can often spread to major newspapers and network television. The key, then, is not to do anything that would stretch the truth and therefore break the trust you have with customers.
Likewise, if competing brands all say they have the lowest price or the best deals, obviously only one claim can be true. The rest are stretching the truth. How do consumers find out who is telling the truth? It used to take a lot of trial and error and detective work to uncover the facts. Not so anymore. If hundreds or even thousands of customers, including some of your friends, say that a company is the best or that they have the lowest price, you'll trust that far more and accept it as the truth.
In an era of increasing communication, networking, and social media, the best brands will sell based on the truth rather than a hidden false assumption. They'll strive to create a relationship that will span price, time, and the competition by creating long-term trust rather than just a one-time sale. Start building your social trust today.
Follow Daniel Burrus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DanielBurrus