Building Trust With Your Followers in a World of Doubt

By: Allie Friedman – Account Supervisor, Public Relations, Eric Mower + Associates

Trust. It’s the core value of any relationship. We trust our friends to be honest, our spouses to be loyal, our leaders to advise and our children to listen. It takes time to build trust in any relationship, but only seconds to break it. And once you lose it, it’s hard to build it back.

Today’s world persuades us not to trust. We’re an always-on society navigating fake news, emerging technology, political cynicism, inflated prices for deeper discounts and attacks on the truth. The New York Times ran an ad campaign saying: “Truth. It’s more important now than ever.” Truth builds trust and without it, any relationship will fail.

According to Nielsen, 70% of consumers trust the opinion of a total stranger. But, only 25% (or less) trust advertising. Trust is just as important in brand-to-customer relationships as it is in our personal lives. A company can truly gain a competitive edge if it can engender trust in the marketplace. But, how does a company build trust with its customers online through a screen?

Brand as Friend, EMA’s unique philosophy to marketing, is based on the nine proven drivers of friendship.

When a brand becomes something more than a thing or place to purchase goods, but something you relate to and care about, a bond develops between the company and its customers. An organization can see real success when it’s able to nurture that bond into business growth. Social media provides brands with a great opportunity to bond with customers. It delivers a platform to do more than just sell a product or a service, but to share the story behind the logo and create a direct connection with its customers – essentially, a friendship.

Here are three ways a company can build this bond with its followers using the core drivers of trust:

Friends are honest.
If you Google synonyms of “trustworthiness,” “honesty” rises to the top. True friends are not fake or deceptive. Today’s consumers expect no less from the brands they believe in. They expect transparency. They expect the truth. Remember this when crafting your next tweet. You’ll go a lot further with your followers if you scrap the promotional scams and keep it real – delivering authentic, relevant content that your followers care about.

Friends offer advice.
We turn to our friends for direction on aspects of life. Do you know a good eye doctor? Where should I send my daughter to daycare? Should I order fries with that? (Yes, yes you should). We seek advice from the people we trust most either because they understand us, have gone through something similar or have a particular expertise on a topic. A similar dynamic pertains to brands. Customers trust companies to guide them down the best path. Once a brand becomes a trusted advisor, it can frame the discussion and hugely influence a consumer’s perspective. Social media provides companies with a vehicle to easily and directly give their customers advice in real-time – through videos, articles, blog posts, infographics and more. Remember that your followers are looking to you for direction, so provide them with authentic content that’s going to help them make an informed decision to improve their life.

Friends are loyal.
True friendships have a strong sense of allegiance and support. You stand by your friends, always having their back. When it comes to marketing, brand loyalty is harder to achieve. Consumers are flooded with options on-demand – flavors, colors, styles, channels and genres. We may use a brand for years, but one day, without any reason, something new with the promise of being better comes along, and our loyalty flies out the door. For a company to keep its followers, it must be loyal in return. Show your customers you appreciate them through the content you deliver. Whether it’s immediate and impactful customer service or a small reward for their support, showing your followers you have their back, will pay big long-term dividends.

For more information on how a Brand as Friend approach can help you win over your customers, visit


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