Keys to Gaining Customers’ Trust Online

The social media revolution has toppled traditional models of brand building and reputation preservation. It has also forced brand leaders to recalibrate their approaches to building trust among customers. According to Bob Pearson, president of the Blog Council, the following concepts must be accepted by senior executives in order for their brands to remain trusted—and viable—in a digital world.

• Customers are co-shaping your reputation everyday. Are you accidentally outsourcing the building of your brand?

• Leaders will identify issues before they happen, because customers assume they are listening to their issues in real time.

• Your customers don’t care where you want them to go. Customers are part of their own liquid network, so executives must become a friend who can be trusted.

• Less than 1% of a customer’s time is spent purchasing a product; 99% of the time is spent browsing and socializing.

• Customers decide where they will learn about your brand, and it’s not via advertising.

• Customers are discussing your brand every day. Do you know where those conversations are occurring? Are you a participant or an observer, or are you absent?

• There isn’t a destination for customers. Visiting a corporate Web site is not their goal, no matter how pretty it looks.

• Customers want to help each other by sharing ideas, sharing product knowledge and helping peers with problems. Execs build trust by being part of this process.

• Ethical behavior is key to maintaining trust. Executives would never create a fake ad, so why create a fake blog post?