Building Trust in Social Selling

July 6


Building Trust in Social Selling: Establishing Credibility Online

By Hanson Cheng

July 6, 2023

  • minute read
  • In this article, we delve into the critical concepts of trust and credibility in the context of social selling – a contemporary sales approach that leverages social media networks to locate, connect with, understand, and nurture sales prospects. We analyze why trust is essential in social selling and how it intertwines with credibility.

    The article then explores practical strategies for building trust, such as establishing a professional online presence, communicating effectively, showcasing your skills and knowledge, capitalizing on online reviews, testimonials, and influencers.

    Further, we discuss maintaining and growing trust through ethical practices, long-term relationship building, and continual learning. The aim is to provide you with a comprehensive guide on making trust the central pillar of your social selling success.

    Introduction to Trust in Social Selling

    Defining Social Selling

    Social selling encompasses strategies that leverage social networks to find and engage with potential customers directly. Unlike traditional selling which is generally salesperson-driven, social selling is customer-driven. It involves adding value to the customer throughout their buying journey without directly pushing a product.

    Importance of Trust in Social Selling

    Trust is a fundamental principle in social selling. Trust allows potential customers to view a salesperson or company as an advisor who can help them solve a problem or meet a need, rather than just a seller pushing a product. When trust is lacking, prospects are likely to dismiss the seller regardless of the quality of their product or service.

    The Interplay between Trust and Credibility

    Trust and credibility influence each other and are connected. A strong reputation (credibility) makes a company more trustworthy in the eyes of prospects. In the same light, the relationship with the buyer needs to be trustworthy in order to build credibility over time.

    Building Trust through Credibility in Social Selling

    Online Presence: A Cornerstone of Trust

    A professional online presence is essential for building trust in social selling. Salespeople and businesses need to ensure their online persona not only reflects their brand accurately but is also authentic and ready for scrutiny.

    The Role of Communication in Establishing Trust

    Effective, clear, and responsive communication is instrumental in building trust. With social selling, various communication channels such as social media platforms and messaging apps present incredible opportunities to directly interact with potential customers at any place and at any time.

    Making Expertise Visible: Showcasing Skills and Knowledge

    Demonstrating skills and expertise can significantly boost credibility and promote trust in social selling. This can be achieved by sharing pertinent, insightful content or offering insightful solutions tailored to customer needs.

    Enhancing Credibility through Online Reviews and Testimonials

    Power of Customer Reviews and Testimonials

    Customer reviews and testimonials play a significant role in establishing trust and authenticity. Encouraging satisfied customers to share their positive experiences can build credibility and turn prospects into customers.

    Leveraging Influencers to Boost Trust

    How influencer endorsements can foster credibility

    Social media influencers are individuals who have created a significant following on social media platforms due to their expertise, talent, or simply their likability. In the context of social selling, influencers are an invaluable resource because of their ability to impact and guide their followers’ decision-making processes, including purchasing decisions. Leaning on the influence of these individuals can help a business garner credibility in the eyes of potential customers.

    A prime example is a small yoga boutique in San Francisco that collaborated with local fitness influencers on Instagram. The influencers showcase the boutique’s products and share their personal experiences using them. In return, they receive a commission on every sale they drive. This collaboration benefits both parties: the boutique gains credibility and exposure from the influencers’ reviews, while the influencers monetize their following.

    When an influencer with a well-cultivated relationship with their followers endorses a product or service, it can add a layer of personal trust and authenticity that traditional advertising lacks. This can foster credibility and drive engagement, as it capitalizes on the trust that the influencer has built with their audience. Interest in influencer marketing has soared in recent years, growing into a multi-billion dollar industry. This reflects the significant role influencers play in shaping consumer perception and behavior.

    In a nutshell, leveraging influencers in a strategic and genuine manner can significantly boost both a brand’s online visibility and trust in its products or services.

    The right way of finding and choosing relevant influencers

    Finding and choosing the right influencers to promote a business or product is a crucial aspect of influencer marketing strategy. The first step is identifying influencers who speak to a similar target audience. In addition, it’s important to consider the influencer’s brand alignment, their level of engagement with followers, and the authenticity of their content.

    Let’s return to the earlier example of the small yoga boutique based in San Francisco. They wouldn’t benefit much from partnering with an influencer who caters to the baking enthusiast community or a major celebrity with a fanbase that spans globally. Instead, they would want influencers who are notable figures in the local fitness scene.

    The yoga boutique might start by identifying fitness influencers in San Francisco who specialize in yoga. They would then evaluate these influencers based on their followers’ engagement level (likes, comments, shares), the authenticity of their content (is it faithful to who they are and consistent), and their perceived trustworthiness (do they routinely provide genuine and unbiased recommendations).

    Influencers who align with the business on these levels are likely to foster mutual trust with potential customers while introducing the business to a relevant customer base. It’s crucial to approach influencers as partners, not mere advertising platforms, to foster genuine collaboration and mutual benefits.

    To sum up, picking the right influencers involves careful assessment and consideration. When done correctly, influencer endorsement can significantly boost credibility and trust, leading to more substantial customer engagement and, subsequently, increased sales. However, it’s vital to remain ethical and transparent in all influencer partnerships, as deceptive practices can hurt a brand’s reputation.

    Maintaining and Growing Trust in Social Selling

    To keep succeeding in social selling, it’s not enough to just establish trust once. Instead, trust must be maintained and continually grown. Achieving this involves practicing ethics in business, focusing on building long-term relationships with customers, and continuously learning and improving.

    Engaging in Ethical Practices

    In order to maintain and grow trust in social selling, ethical practices should be non-negotiable. This can involve transparency with customers about product details, pricing, and business processes. Honesty goes a long way in reinforcing trust and credibility. Businesses should refrain from making exaggerated claims about their products or services. They risk damaging customer trust if they’re unable to deliver on their promises.

    Another critical ethical practice involves respecting customer privacy. Social selling often involves collecting customer data for personalized selling. It’s crucial to be transparent with customers about what data is being collected and how it’s being used, ensuring to obtain their consent before data collection.

    For example, Amazon consistently informs customers about their data use policies, ensuring that customer trust is maintained. The company also takes swift action against sellers on its platform who engage in dishonest practices, further endorsing their commitment to ethics.

    Long-Term Relationship Building

    Trust in social selling is often the result of consistent, positive interactions between a business and its customers. As such, position your social selling strategy towards creating and nurturing long-term relationships with customers. This could involve regularly reaching out to customers with personalized product recommendations, responding promptly to inquiries or complaints, and generally keeping lines of communication open.

    Offering value beyond sales is also crucial in sustaining customer relationships. Share relevant industry news or tips, celebrate milestones with your customers or offer loyalty rewards. For instance, Starbucks does an exceptional job in cultivating relationships through its reward program, where customers earn stars for every purchase, which can be redeemed for beverages and food.

    Conclusion: Trust, the Heart of Successful Social Selling

    In summary, trust is the backbone of successful social selling. Starting from a solid online presence and proving credibility through communication, showcasing skills, leveraging online reviews, and influencer engagement, businesses can significantly boost their trustworthiness. It’s crucial to maintain this trust by engaging in ethical practices, nurturing long-term business relationships, and committed continuation of learning and improving. A business or salesperson viewed as trustworthy is likely to excel in social selling.

    Continual Learning and Improvement

    Maintaining trust also involves demonstrating your commitment to growth. Regularly updating your expertise and improving your offerings signals to your customers that you’re dedicated to providing them the best service or product.

    This could be as simple as undertaking online courses to further your knowledge in your business domain. It could also involve regularly seeking and receptively processing customer feedback to address areas of your service that may be lacking.

    Adobe, for instance, prioritizes continuous improvement, frequently updating their software to cater to the evolving needs of their customers. The company also regularly shares educational content via their online platforms, showcasing their commitment to broadening their expertise and providing value to their customers beyond their product offerings.

    In conclusion, trust in social selling thrives on ethics, long-term relationship building, and continuous learning. Adhering to ethical practices in all operations not only upholds your credibility but shows respect for your customers. Long-term relationships form the basis for consistent trust, as they provide the opportunity for repeated positive interactions with the business. Lastly, continuous learning and improvement highlight that the business values growth and is dedicated to providing the best to its customers. Thus, the combination of these principles serves as the foundation for maintaining and growing trust in social selling.

    Building Trust in Social Selling: FAQs

    1. What Is the Importance of Trust in Social Selling?

    Trust in social selling is paramount for success; it facilitates stronger customer relationships, promotes customer loyalty and commitment, and enhances the likelihood of repeat purchases. Erecting trust also often results in positive word-of-mouth referrals.

    2. How Does Online Credibility Influence Social Selling?

    Online credibility directly affects social selling by influencing customer’s buying decisions. If potential buyers perceive a seller as credible, they are more likely to trust and engage in transactions, hence improving sales performance.

    3. What Are Some Strategies to Establish Credibility in Social Selling?

    Some effective strategies include maintaining a consistent online presence, delivering valuable and relevant content regularly, being transparent on policies, products and services, promptly responding to inquiries, and maintaining positive reviews.

    4. How Significant Is Consistent Online Presence in Building Trust?

    Maintaining a consistent online presence is a key strategy in fostering trust. Regular interaction with potential customers brings about familiarity, making the customers more comfortable and confident in doing business.

    5. How Can Transparency Foster Trust in Social Selling?

    Transparency elicits trust by extending an open image of business operations. Customers appreciate transparency on product prices, delivery arrangements, or any drawbacks. This honesty can lead to long-term trust and add credibility to online sellers.

    6. What Is the Role of Customer Reviews in Instilling Trust?

    Customer reviews play a vital role in developing trust as they offer testimonials from real users. Positive reviews can provide proof of product quality, while addressing negative ones transparently shows commitment to customer satisfaction.

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    Hanson Cheng

    About the author

    Living in Portugal with my wife and puppies.
    Scaling online businesses and sharing lessons learned on this website and in our email newsletter.

    Always happy to hear from you, so find me on Instagram if you want to say hi!

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