Cultivating a healthy online presence takes a lot of work. It requires patience, planning, and a steady hand at the tiller.
If you’re trying to come up with an online reputation strategy for your company, here are a few tips to help you build a sense of trust with consumers.
1. Start With Your Mindset
Before you begin digging into nitty-gritty brand-building strategies, it’s important to put yourself in the right mindset. The truth is, no matter how successful you are, you will never be able to fully control your business’s online reputation.
It’s the same concept as a presidential candidate’s inability to directly impact whether or not they’re elected. In the same sense, you can influence and stump for yourself, but at the end of the day, the opinions and decisions of others will dictate how successful you are.
This isn’t meant to be discouraging. Instead, use the information to prepare yourself for moments when things don’t go your way no matter how well you handle the situation. Instead of panicking or giving up, stay calm and consider how you can address each reputation situation as it occurs.
2. Create Great Content On All Mediums
The more platforms you are present on, the more likely you are to gain recognition. So how do you build from recognition to trust? Reliable, entertaining content.
Great content is the basis for gaining authority online. To get the most out of your content, don’t just create it for one medium. Try to create actionable, unique social content, blogs, bylines, infographics, and even podcasts. The more places you can be found sharing reliable content online, the more likely you are to gain the trust of your audience and potentially widen it.
Adam DeGraide is an example of an entrepreneur who is present on multiple forms of media to gain audience trust. The Chief Executive Officer of Anthem Business Software started a podcast in 2021 to cultivate deeper authority in the entrepreneurial space with informative, entertaining content.
According to Edison Research, 58 percent of podcast listeners spend up to five hours a week listening. Show up on that medium with quality content and you can have the opportunity to be in your audience’s ear each week.
3. Be Responsive
When it comes to building trust, this should start with your active customers and consumers who are interested in your brand. This is important, as it’s tempting to start with some of the later recommendations, but if this high-level approach isn’t reinforced by solid, trustworthy behavior in your day-to-day operation, it won’t work well.
Instead, start your online reputation management by addressing the basics. In other words, don’t start by adding new things to your to-do list. Instead, master the activities that are already taking place — starting with your customer service department.
Customer service is the frontline of your business’s reputation. It’s the place where unhappy customers will bring issues to your attention. It’s also the spot where curious consumers will inquire about your brand. In either case, if you don’t address things in a quick and satisfactory fashion, it’s going to hurt your reputation.
Even small businesses can provide quality customer service at this point. Look for the tools (such as website chatbots and email forms) that can help you maintain responsive, helpful lines of communication with your existing audience.
4. Influence Public Opinion
Once you’re cultivating positive experiences and testimonials in your customer service channels, you can begin to consider how to propagate that trustworthy reputation to a larger audience. One of the best ways to do this (regardless of the size of your operation) is to work with influencers.
The beauty of influencers is that you can tailor each relationship to fit both your own needs and the needs of your influencer. Look for influencers within your industry who are able to connect with your target audience and honestly endorse your products. By forging these relationships, you can develop a reputation as a quality solution to your customer’s pain points without needing to say a single, self-promoting word on your own behalf.
Along with influencers, look for business policies that can show your investment in your community. This could be something as targeted as supporting a local food bank or as broad as investing in environmentally-friendly activities. Either way, setting up business policies that focus on things you care about beyond your profit margins is a great way to encourage that sense of trust with your audience.
5. Be Predictable in a Good Way
Finally, if you want your audience to trust you, you need to be predictable. That word is often used in a negative sense, but “predictable” doesn’t mean you need to be boring. On the contrary, what we’re talking about here is predictable business behaviors.
It’s perfectly possible to be innovative and exciting within the bounds of predictability. For instance, you can embrace a CCaaS (contact center as a service) like Five9 to improve your customer service activity. While the tool might be exciting and new, it shouldn’t affect the responsiveness of your business one iota.
By being consistent where it matters, you provide a sense of predictability that customers can count on. This, in turn, translates into trust as they learn that they can come to you to solve their problems, no matter how that process might look at any given moment.
Your business’s online reputation is critical to its success. Everyone checks things like ratings and reviews these days before they patronize a business. In a world where customer opinions and — by extension — brand reputations truly impact the bottom line, it’s important to take steps to build genuine trust with your customers.
This starts with the right mindset and a solid base of information. From there, you can build a strategy that will captivate the hearts and minds of everyone who comes into contact with your brand, whether they’re an old customer, a new prospect, or anything in between.