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or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Internet

The only entity the public tends to regard with less trust than government is the corporation.

As the age of open and instantaneous communication and 24-hour information availability progresses, consumers become increasingly pragmatic/realistic/suspicious of the companies selling the goods we use.

Humans Helping Humans

Trying to avoid the fact that you’re selling something is stupid and pointless. It’s better to treat people as just that–people–and relate on a human level to help foster relationships.

Speaking to and with customers with a human tone is key here. People expect to have complaints answered with a form letter and perhaps a gift card, and have compliments go off into the aether without acknowledgement.

Surprise people with a real, human response; thank them for their compliments or for giving your products word-of-mouth endorsement, and respond with compassion and care to peeves.

Brand Voice and Conscience

Think for a moment about the Lord of the Rings trilogy: how difficult was it for Frodo and Sam to trust Gollem, when he was constantly talking to his own reflection, debating good actions versus evil ones, and constantly sending mixed message? Why couldn’t Gollem earn their trust and respect when he was leading them to their destination and protecting the ring?

No one can relate effectively when they have multiple personalities and no conscience. A clear, consistent message is essential to establishing trust.

It’s the political tactic of staying “on message,” even in the face of adversity. When you as a company are open and honest about your intentions, and communicate how you turn those intentions into actions, you help to establish a consistent voice and conscience.

Help People, Don’t Sell Them Stuff

You’ve just finished a meal and dessert at your favorite restaurant. You’re ready to pay the check when the waiter brings another, different meal to your table.

When you protest, the waiter says “But I already brought it out, and you really liked the first one so much. C’mon, just eat it and I’ll add it to your check.”

Social media shouldn’t be used to cram your widgets down people’s gullets. If you’re being discussed on Facebook and Twitter, respond by sharing insights. If folks are complaining, offer to correct the problem as best you can.

Further Reading

Here are some other Twitter-specific nuts-and-bolts techniques that can help bring you closer to your customers and them to you.

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