Build consumer trust through social media with help from Sweet Rose Studios.At one time, brands attempted to control what was said about them in order to hide negative press. In an age of information and transparency, however, brands are effectively using all press, both positive and negative, to create trust amongst their consumers.

It comes as no surprise that 92% of consumers trust the opinions of friends and family above advertisers. As peer-to-peer discussion is facilitated by social media, however, consumers are also more willing to trust strangers opinions online if they offer some credibility. Often, this credibility consists of experience with the brand, and perhaps the industry, and an honest unsolicited opinion.

Peer-To-Peer Interaction

Social media provides an excellent forum for this kind of peer-to-peer interaction, as people can view one another’s names and faces, offering a personalized element to the interaction, and an added layer of trust.

This helps build trust in the consumer-brand relationship, the most critical element of the purchase process. A brand that is willing to allow their consumers to interact, putting themselves on the line for both praise and criticism, establishes credibility and displays interest in their customers? opinions.

The “Mean Tweets” Effect

It has recently become a successful trend for brands to make their worst criticism public in order to address their shortcomings either to make light of them, or to show their commitment to improving their product based on customer feedback.

I call it the “Mean Tweets” effect, as numerous brands have taken inspiration from Jimmy Kimmel’s popular segment. By making their customers’ worst criticisms public, often with a humorous edge, these brands then address how they used this feedback constructively.

Consider HootSuite’s recent video, a spinoff of this very segment, in which they asked their Twitter followers what they thought of the user interface, which HootSuite itself felt was outdated. Employees shared the criticism that came through, which mirrored HootSuite’s initial impression. Despite the humor in the negativity, there were common themes and truths, which HootSuite addressed when they released an updated interface. By exposing their vulnerability, HootSuite established a new level of credibility and concern for their customers’ satisfaction.

Take Criticism Gracefully

While it’s not expected that most companies make their criticism so public, it is important for consumer-brand relationships that customers are able to share their opinions freely and engage in peer-to-peer interaction through social media. If your brand can address and accept criticism gracefully, opening yourself to reproach can provide an opportunity for you to come out ahead.

Check out this example from Jimmy John’s Facebook page. The negative press turned into an opportunity for them to make it right, and show off their customer service to other consumers – who took note!

Jimmy John's Facebook Complaint

Consumers hold all the power in their relationship with a brand. Savvy brands will encourage consumer interaction, and facilitate engaging peer-to-peer interaction so consumers can gain confidence in a brand. Listen to what your customers are saying on social media, where their voices are freed behind the shield of the internet. Embrace their opinions, address their concerns, and your brand will come out on top.

Is your brand looking for assistance with social media marketing for customer engagement? Contact Sweet Rose Studios today!