In a previous post on how to run successful online competitions and giveaways, I touched on the value of trust when building and managing your online community, whether on a branded site or social media outpost.
Specifically, I said (in relation to building a Twitter community):
Your followers’ trust is vital to your brand’s success in Social Media.
More broadly, the most important aspect of running a successful community is growing and maintaining your participants’ trust in you as their Community Manager and in the Brand you are working for.
Built trust and the rest will come
If you ever want to leverage your community to the commercial benefit of your company, you need your audience’s trust before they open themselves up to you. Step away from the metrics, stop plotting on how to ram your new product or advertising campaign down people’s throat, and think about how you can foster your relationship with them. If you focus on caring for your audience and nurturing their interaction with you and each other, they will thank you for it.
Develop a culture of respect
By imbuing everything you do with respect for your community, whether brainstorming or designing, you will automatically build a strong foundation for your company to flourish on. If you already have a community, try not to idealise who you wish your audience was, and take notice of the people already gathering around your brand. They most likely already love you and your product, and want you to succeed. Make them feel valued, and they will trust you to continue to provide for them.
Be open and inclusive
Welcome your customers into your processes, and give them a home under the umbrella of your brand. If you choose to be secretive or standoffish with your customers, they will eventually gather around a company that promotes openness and inclusivity. By giving up control and trusting in your community, you will be rewarded with passion, loyalty and devotion to your cause.
Get your priorities straight
The line between cultivating advocates of your product or brand, and promoting to them is a very fine one; the first aspect is better conducted by a Community Manager, whereas a Social Media Manager will be positioned to approach the latter more successfully. Read more about the difference between a Community Manager and a Social Media Manager.
Without your community’s trust, you cannot gain any of the benefits of Community Management. Find the right Community Manager to build that trust, support them by instilling respect for your community at all levels of your organisation, and never take your community for granted or as merely a conduit for advertising.
How do you go about doing this? 8 ways to build trust in your Social Media or Branded Online Community
What do you think? Is trust worth concentrating on when building a community, or can success be attained without it?
[photo by notsogoodphotography]