The public is increasingly dependent on social media for more than keeping up-to-date on your second cousin’s new baby—or what a high school acquaintance made for dinner last night.
Sectors including politics, world news and brand communication are increasingly reliant on social media platforms to reach their audiences, yet this constant accessibility to information is not without its downfalls in the realm of information security (see Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica scandal).
In light of events like these, consumers are increasingly skeptical of how much to trust social media platforms, and therefore they are engaging less—bad news for both the platforms and the brands that rely on them. According to a CMO Council Study, 99 percent of consumers would cut ties with companies that did not earn their trust.
Here are three strategies to beat back the growing public skepticism of social media in order to continue your online marketing success:
1. Tell your story authentically.
Engage your customer base in a meaningful way through photos, words, videos and more.
Relationships matter to consumers when it comes to learning about a brand and deciding whether to purchase its offerings, and that trust is built on a mutual relationship between brand and user. If the consumer is sharing their personal information on a social media platform, seeing that reciprocation from organizations puts both parties on a more level playing field and increases feelings of connection.
Make sure to watch out for over-promotion. Though increasing brand awareness is your goal, constant ads on a reader’s feed can spur the assumption that revenue is more important than your relationship.
2. Consider employees versus influencers.
No one knows the intimate workings of a company like its own employees, which is why successful marketing teams are increasingly turning to their organization’s team members in an effort to increase transparency and trust in their public brand recognition.
Consumers are more likely to trust promotions when someone they know can authentically praise a brand, rather than a celebrity paid to do the same. Sprout Social reports that 61 percent of consumers would research a product or service that a friend recommends on social media, yet only 36 percent say the same of promotions via a paid influencer, no matter how famous.
3. Make the first move.
Engaging with your consumers is just as important as them engaging with you, and it helps if you make the first move. Just like that initial contact with a dating prospect, keep it light, entertaining, and don’t be afraid to make a relatable joke or two to break down the wall. Showing lighthearted vulnerability projects an image of self-awareness and suggests that you don’t have anything to hide from your consumers. Relatability and authenticity directly correlate with consumer trust.
Separate yourself from the notion of the untrustworthy “establishment” by projecting a transparent image to your audience. Advertising you have nothing to hide from your audience is just as important as advertising your products, and a surefire way to gain public trust and engagement.
Nola Peshkin is an undergraduate student at the University of Washington studying English and French with focuses in translation and travel writing. A version of this article originally appeared on the Communiqué PR blog.