“Trust is what drives profit margin and share price,” says Larry Light, CEO of the Stamford brand consultancy Arcature and a veteran of McDonald’s and ad agencies BBDO Worldwide and Bates Worldwide to MSNBC. “It is what consumers are looking for and what they share with one another.” In the wake of the Great Recession, Americans have lost confidence in national and multi-national corporations. In fact, 77 percent of consumers trust companies less than last year and a mere 38 percent believe they will do what is right. There is a clear consumer push towards corporate accountability and transparency to rebuild America’s trust with its industry leaders. But how can corporations regain this trust?
Blogging and microblogging are powerful digital marketing strategies to build consumer trust. Blogs build brand credibility with in-depth content while microblogging extends customer outreach through sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Through blogging and microblogging strategies, corporations can develop personalities, engage fans and lead communities in an effort to build trust with consumers.
There are three key steps in developing and implementing corporate blogging and social media microblogging campaigns:
1. Craft the Message
Effective bloggers have a distinct voice. Consider how the Gawker Media’s audacious, irreverent voice helped grow the company into a $300 million digital network. But how can you go about creating a distinct voice? A distinct brand voice and image is born from the brand’s culture and implemented through writing and images on blogs and / or microblogging sites. For instance, Mercedes is tapping into its cutting edge, innovative spirit by dialing-up sexy looks on Facebook. Part of Mercedes’ transition from a dusty, affluent traditional brand to cutting edge futuristic brand is through posting sexy images of its latest cars on Facebook.
2. Generating Content
Blogs are a go-to source for brand news and information. Ford, for instance, features the latest news about the company to keep fans updated. That news is then pushed to its social streams, such as Facebook and Twitter. Such a news stream enables Ford to address any concerns or issues immediately to quell rumors. For instance, Ford’s blog notes about a new board member, James Hence.
Corporations can also benefit by nominating several content producers within the company. Urban Outfitters, for instance, features blogs from nearly 30 cities in which the fashion retailer is located. Content producers from Antwerp to Mexico to Stockholm publish the latest, cutting edge culture trends, including humorous beer buckle belts from Austin and feather head dresses from Australia.
3. Monitor and Customer Outreach
Unlike “push” marketing of the TV / print / radio era, social media enables customers to pull. That means consumers can “pull” back to learn more about and engage with brands through social streams, such as blogging via WordPress, Facebook and Twitter. Social streams enable brands and customers to have a conversation, troubleshoot issues and entertain. That doesn’t mean writing a blog post, blasting to social streams and leaving it — further re-enforcing the faceless, uncaring corporate archetype. Building trust requires engaging consumers in a conversation. When a consumer praises you, a quick “thanks” takes only a second or if a customer has a complaint, address it — customer outreach can curb a potential “viral fallout.”
Dell troubleshoots consumers issues quite frequently and it’s not only strengthened existing customer relationships, the computer company’s Twitter accounts also generate referrals. Brand Republic reported, the Delloutlet account (@Delloutlet) has recently grown from 640,000 followers to 1,468,249. Over $1 million has been made from @Delloutlet referrals for their “certified refurbs, scratch and dent and previously ordered new Dell products.” Dell exemplifies how a corporation should behave in a Web 2.0 era, by reaching out to customers and caring about what they have to say. And as Dell illustrates, dialing-up customer outreach to humanize a brand can impact the bottom line.
Image by Walter Groesel from Stock.Xchng