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5 Ways You Can Use Social Media to Build Relationships and Increase Audience Engagement

The concept of trust can feel a little precarious when it comes to marketing. With trust, brands can develop deeper relationships with their customers that result in brand loyalty and advocacy. Without it, businesses may find themselves struggling to make ends meet. How do you develop trust in today’s world, though? Advertisements are everywhere, and younger generations are becoming more and more skeptical of blatant, one-sided marketing tactics.

Now more than ever, brands need to go above and beyond to demonstrate their value. Business, at the end of the day, is about serving people. The greatest choice a business can make to develop consumer trust is to shift away from a sales and profit mentality to a more customer-first strategy. This shift in mindset will not only result in increased brand trust, but also help build a supportive community around a business.

BuzzSumo Director Steve Rayson said in his book “Trust Agents” that a brand can use social media to build trust by demonstrating expertise and developing real connections through thoughtful engagement. Social platforms have become an epicenter for businesses to build trust because of their inherent ability to all but eliminate engagement barriers. Never has it been easier to connect with consumers in real-time and in such authentic ways.

With social media emerging as one of the most effective ways to build relationships and trust, it begs the question: how? What can a business do to facilitate brand trust and engagement? In this article, we cover five different ways your business can utilize social media to build trust, develop relationships, and increase audience engagement.

Offer Timely, Convenient Customer Service

Social media has evolved well beyond its original purpose of facilitating connections and spreading information. Now more than ever, businesses across the globe utilize digital platforms like Facebook and Twitter as business tools to increase brand awareness, sell products, and engage with current and potential customers.

Though social media has quickly become a powerhouse for digital marketing and advertising efforts, its usefulness doesn’t stop there. According to Zendesk, over 60% of customers think solving issues quickly and efficiently is the most important part of good support. In response to the growing demand for convenient and effective customer assistance, more and more organizations are turning to social media to develop new innovative customer support initiatives.

The success of an organization that chooses to implement social media customer support will depend entirely on the quality and consistency of the service they provide. Most customers on social media expect a business to respond to a direct message or question in less than an hour. Having a strategy in place to field these questions should be an organization’s first priority if they want to build trust on social media.

If you run a large company with high-volume engagement, or even a small company with limited manpower, consider implementing automated template responses to frequent, straightforward questions. Then, create and implement a priorities list that staff can use to help determine which questions should be addressed in what order.

It is important to remember that at the end of the day, if you want to build trust through social media, you have to focus on conversations and connections. By reducing the barriers of customer engagement and meeting consumers where they are, organizations can foster conversations that increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

Personalize the Experience

Gone are the days of generic one-size-fits-all marketing. Every day, consumers become more and more aware of exactly what they need out of a product. Broad, generic statements that don’t specifically tap into a user’s unique situation will undoubtedly struggle to succeed.

For every problem, there are hundreds of products out there that claim to be the solution. Companies have to not only speak to their product’s inherent capabilities, but also need to connect with the consumer on a more personal level.

Today, 99% of marketers say personalization helps advance customer relationships. Combine that stat with the 80% of consumers that report they are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences and it becomes impossible to ignore the significance of content personalization. Social media opened the door to a whole new world of innovative advertising possibilities, and one of its most noteworthy contributions is the rise of personalization capabilities, including:

  • Data-driven retargeting campaigns
  • Personalized social media chatbots
  • Personalized real-life campaigns based on social media data
  • Personalized responses to reviews, comments, and direct messages

Organizations can expect a significant boost in engagement by using data to deliver more relevant messages to a specific target audience. Why? The more useful and relevant the content, the more likely an individual is to interact with that content. We aren’t just talking a couple of extra likes or followers either. Personalized content on social media has been proven to improve conversion rates, positively impact social media ROI, increase brand awareness, and increase brand loyalty.

At the end of the day, the takeaway is simple—personalization drives engagement. Organizations looking to implement personalized marketing on social media should consider starting with a segmentation study of their audience. Who are they? What do they like? What do they respond to? From there, build a target persona that exemplifies your audience.

Most social media platforms provide users with information like age, gender, income level, and interests. This data discovery can be used alongside retargeting tools to discover, predict, and distribute relevant advertising to specific target audiences.

Demonstrate Your Value

One of the greatest benefits of social media is crowdsourcing. Businesses gain valuable insight on their customers’ needs and wants by actively monitoring and listening to how customers talk about their products online. This practice is not only a great way to identify possible areas of improvement, but also gives businesses the opportunity to collect and share positive sentiments and experiences people have had with their product.

Today, building trust through social media is imperative when you consider most people take what a brand says about itself with a grain of salt. Society has become wary of traditional advertising and tends to distrust product claims that sounds too good to be true. This growing distrust is reflected in global marketing budgets.

In 2021 total social media advertising spending by U.S. companies was expected to exceed $44 billion, a 16.34% increase from 2020. In contrast, traditional advertising in the U.S. showed negative expected growth at -0.2% in 2021. More and more companies are realizing that consumer behavior has drastically changed over the years.

Instead of traditional ads, companies are turning towards social proof like testimonials and customer reviews to demonstrate value to potential customers. By offering real-life experiences that accommodate a consumer’s belief that “seeing is believing,” companies demonstrate transparency and authenticity.

It should come as no surprise then that 88% of people trust customer reviews as much as word-of-mouth referrals from family and friends. Unsolicited endorsements serve as a trust signal that can help boost a brand’s authority and authenticity. This growing desire for consumer feedback is why 89% of marketers say customer testimonials and case studies are the most effective content forms for influencing purchases.

Build a Community

One of the best ways to anchor a customer to a brand is to build a community where they can feel connected, whether that be through:

  • Discussion forums
  • Social networks
  • Private groups
  • Livestreams

No matter the type of online gathering place, creating a central hub where customers can share their experience and exchange ideas helps build brand trust and demonstrates a company’s commitment to long term value.

By creating and then actively participating in online communities, companies can offer real-time answers and solutions for their customers. Online communities aren’t just beneficial for the consumer, though. DEWALT, a power tool company, saved $6 million in research costs by launching an online community where they collected customer feedback that led to major product innovation and reduced support costs. Additionally, The University of Michigan examined the relationship between online communities and sales and discovered that customers spent 19% more after they became a member of a brand’s online community.

Don’t Forget to Listen!

Social listening is one of the easiest and most effective ways to understand what consumers want. To engage in social listening, a brand uses tools and programs to monitor specific mentions and conversations relevant to their products, their business, or their industry. They then analyze that data and collect consumer feedback. In doing so, they can discover a couple of valuable insights:

  • What consumers are saying/asking
  • What competitors are saying/doing
  • What industry-experts are saying/asking

Social media is essentially the world’s largest focus group. If a business wants to improve their brand awareness, it makes sense that they would listen and document what people have to say about it.

The information gathered from social listening can help companies have a better idea of what people want to hear, as well as how they want to hear it. In essence, social listening offers a data-driven launchpad that is critical for coming up with new campaign ideas, blog post topics, social media posts, and more.

Start Building Trust Through Social Media

There are so many ways a business can use social media to build customer relationships and encourage ongoing engagement. Let these five strategies serve as a launching off point to help build your own effective social media strategy.

If you still aren’t sure where to start, though, Aztek has a team of digital marketing experts that can help develop a social media strategy to accomplish your unique needs. Contact us today to learn how Aztek can help you reach your business goals.