I’ve been exploring conversational marketing lately, both for some of the talks I give and to advise clients on appropriate and effective ways to not just engage our audiences in conversation, but also persuade them. If we, as social media marketers, are not using the engagement opportunity to motivate those audiences to do something, then there’s little business purpose in having the conversations in the first place.

At Social Media Plus last week, I talked about conversational marketing and came away from the presentation thinking a lot about trust. My theory around conversational marketing is that success occurs when our genuine participation (that without marketing as motivation) earns enough trust from our audience to share information that is driven by our business. But trust is earned in a variety of ways.

Trust from EDHAR on Shutterstock.comPublic relations professionals can take months to earn the trust of a media member. You don’t immediately trust a child care professional with your children. Search engines don’t trust a brand new blog with the top search result if it hasn’t garnered some links and traffic.

But trust is also something we randomly give away in certain circumstances. You trust strangers on the street to give you directions. You trust random people to watch your bag while you throw something away at the airport. You may even trust a product recommendation made in a conversation near you that you only overheard.

Why? Or more importantly, what is it that makes people trust us?

Without a great deal of discussion (that’s what the comments are for), here’s a list of 25 different ways you can earn trust, both on- and off-line:

25 Simple Ways To Earn Trust

  1. Be polite
  2. Dress neatly
  3. Smile
  4. Shake hands firmly
  5. Hug if appropriate
  6. Illustrate your knowledge
  7. Make eye contact
  8. Speak clearly
  9. Share ideas, content and praise
  10. Be positive
  11. Ask how they are doing
  12. Know when to shut up
  13. Use a clear and distinctive avatar
  14. Talk about everything but you most of the time
  15. Be confident your product or service is valuable
  16. Make it easy for people to buy, but also to return
  17. Say “please” “thank you” and “excuse me”
  18. Admit when you’re wrong
  19. Don’t gloat when you’re right
  20. Hold the door or elevator for someone else
  21. Pay attention to those talking to you
  22. Don’t gossip
  23. Be open minded
  24. Respect their right to not answer or agree
  25. Do all of that consistently

What more can you think of? The comments are yours.

IMAGE: By EDHAR on Shutterstock.com

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • stringsn88keys

    Follow-through: nothing worse than dropping the ball at the last second.

  • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

    #5! “Hugs, not drugs” as I say. Seriously though Jason. You know I love hug.

    I'll add “Be human.” In other words, be yourself … don't try to be something you are not. Most people see through fake/contrived.

    DJ Waldow
    Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory
    @djwaldow

    • http://apatontheback.com Jodi Henderson

      I was hoping somebody wouldn't say this so I could. :) I think the human aspect is super important and I like to call it other things like showing a little vulnerability or that you're not perfect. After all, don't people tend to gravitate toward and trust those they can relate to?

  • Chris Syme

    Always tell the truth, even if it will cost you money. Don't be afraid to recommend a competitor if you can't fill the need. Good post. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/Narciso17 Narciso17

    One of the biggies that rings true for me is 14 – talk about everything but you most of the time. I think this is harder for us marketers b/c we always seem to be in 'sell' mode…always trying to convince our clients why moving this way or that is a good or strategic move. But, unless we really listen to our clients or pay attention to what should be done, we're just as bad as a used car salesman…sell, sell, sell!

    It's like watching a bad actor (onstage or in film) whose just waiting for his/her cue or some 'dead space' to say something. They're not really involved and they're certainly not listening to the other person(s) in the scene. It looks ridiculous.

    And so do we.

    Trust is built on a relationship between (at the very least) two parties. Trust will not come if it's all about you.

    Great Post, Jason!

    ———————————
    Narciso Tovar
    Big Noise Communications
    @Narciso17

  • http://impulsemagazine.net Impulse Magazine

    My favorite way is just to be honest and truthful about everything that I say and do

  • Tom Barrett

    26. Listen
    27. Be Present & not distracted
    Nice thought-stream!
    Thanks

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  • http://startups.com/ M_Dilli

    Good post. I like the way in which the tips are not presented in a sophistacated way that tends to miss the simplicity of the subject. To eart trust and respect one has to do things that have to do with the everyday acting of a person. There is no magic or even complicated plan to earn trust, one doesn't have to be a hero.
    I've enjoyed the post very much and I agree to all of the above mentioned tips.

  • Chris

    Great post, Jason. I was at the Social Media Plus conference with ListenLogic and got the chance to see your presentation on conversational marketing. It was really great to see 'trust' as a focal point in social media in a more realistic way than some of the purists do it.

    #12 and #17 are my favorites.

    -
    Chris
    @chriskarnes

  • http://www.TheESuite.com Dennis Baker

    yea know, as I review this list a lot of this looks like stuff I learned growing up from my parents, teachers and in church.

    Hmmmm – is social media driving us back to old school values? If so, bring on MORE!!!!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      No doubt about it, Dennis. Social media isn't as much an innovation as it is
      a revelation. We know this stuff, we just need to practice it in business as
      well as as people.

      Thanks for swinging by.

  • http://blog.presentationadvisors.com/ Jon Thomas

    Pay it forward, with no expectation of anything in return.

  • http://twitter.com/philpresents Phil Waknell

    Fine post Jason. One item I would add:

    Delight your customers consistently. Mere satisfaction is not good enough.

  • http://twitter.com/K2daV Kate Voth

    Hmm…I feel that most of the items on this list may help people APPEAR trustworthy, but they don't necessarily EARN the trust of others. Being a polite, friendly, well-dressed or even humble person says nothing about one's accountability. While these are all great attributes and practices that certainly strengthen one's image, we can't forget some big to-do's when it comes to earning trust:

    –follow through on promises or offers you make
    –offer an objective opinion at all times
    –follow up with clients & colleagues to ensure tasks have been completed to their satisfaction
    –share valuable content that you actually understand & believe in (and haven't just spouted out because it “sounds” important)
    –be transparent
    –be empathetic
    –be consistent

    The rest is just icing on the cake.

    • http://www.theincslingers.com/blog Simon Salt

      Great comments Kate. I couldn't agree more. Being well dressed, polite & friendly is the stock in trade of politicians and how many of those do we really trust? Follow through is definitely key in any trust relationship, say what you will do and do it.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Great points, Kate. And thank you. The post was meant to start thoughts, to
      complete them. ;-)

  • Erusack

    One of my company's tenets is “do what you say you are going to do”. This absolutely engenders trust.

  • http://www.iangilyeat.com/ Elizabeth B.

    Communication is the key factor in gaining trust, especially nonverbal. The message you send out by your actions communicates much louder than your words. Like Erusack mentioned below, you must “do what you say you are going to do.” Dependability is huge.

  • http://www.scribnia.com/author/show/473/david-spinks/ David Spinks

    #25 is key. There are no quick and easy tips and tricks to earning trust. It's something you have to work hard at each and every day. Over time, you will start to build up trust. The great thing is that as you build trust with more people, it becomes easier to building trusting relationships with others. People are more inclined to trust someone their friends already trust.

    David, Scribnia

  • Sara George

    Always tell the truth, always be kind, follow through and follow up (thank you notes may be out of fashion, but that just makes them more important, even via email, assuming they are authentic and sincere.

  • http://www.mikestenger.com Mike Stenger

    I think you covered it a little bit Jason, but I believe honesty is one of the quickest ways to building trust. There is so much BS and lying out there and the people that really stand out are those who are honest and real.

  • http://www.simonmainwaring.com/ Simon Mainwaring

    Thanks Jason,

    So many great points but the biggest for me is consistency. Too often we all get bits right but don;'t do it well across the board consistently. It's a simple choice of commitment. The list should be really useful to keep us on track. Thanks.

    Simon

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jp-Obienugh/100000669472904 J.p. Obienugh

    Consistency will earn my trust any day. I'm pretty much sceptical when dealing with young men in their early thirties spotting designer suits and flashing ipads..

  • http://www.seavusproducts.com Petra

    I would add: listen carefully to what your customer has to say and always give an answer every question they have. Communication is most important.

    Great points.

    Petra

  • http://retail-property-in-ncr.blogspot.com Property in India

    thanks dear, for this information

  • Guest

    how to equilibrate been honest and tell customers what they what to hear?

  • http://theoffbeatreport.com Lauren

    As Community Manager at Context Optional, a Social Marketing Company, I am constantly working to build trust within the communities I'm creating for our clients. It's not so much about persuading them, it's more about harboring mutual relationships.

    Your list of simple ways to earn trust is great! It even goes beyond just social media. Thanks for sharing!

    Lauren Friedman
    Community Genius
    Context Optional
    http://www.contextoptional.com

  • http://www.cambridgehypnotherapy.co.uk Paul

    If your product or service is not right for your client have the honesty to say so and help them to find someone who can help. You will gain a real business friend that will always return to you first.
    Paul

  • http://budurl.com/ynfr Megan Zuniga

    Sincerity. People would always know if you're just trying to sell them something or you're really sincere and trustworthy. Although I must say, I love #12 of your suggestions.
    Oh, and remember that trust takes years to build and seconds to destroy. So value the trust of not just your consumers but everyone else around you as well.

  • Msjenniferwoodard

    Great post, ideas that can be used online as well as offline. Something that we can do whether we run a business or not.

    Jenn

  • http://www.Spidvid.com Jeremy Campbell

    When someone really needs you for something, be there for them without asking for a favor in return.

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  • http://www.socialcubix.com/facebook-developer-uk.php Facebook Developer UK

    Nice list Jason.

    I think if one follows all the points which are mentioned above, then surely he'll gain trust of his customers and clients. These are the basic tips which everyone is aware of, but very little follow them, which usually results in failure!

    Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/corydzbinski corydzbinski

    Know the names of people you are speaking with and use them often.

  • PrintPlace.com

    One of the best ways for a company to earn trust is by following through with promises made. If a company places a guarantee on their website or brochure printing pieces, then they had better follow through with that promise without balking or trying to blame the customer. And when it is the customer's fault or something cannot be changed, figure a good compromise so that everyone walks away happy. So many businesses seem to have lost the ability to follow through and, as stated #1 in your list, to be polite.

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  • http://www.helpalocalbusiness.com/ HelpALocalBusiness

    This is probably the BEST: “12. Know when to shut up”
    Love this man…

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    These might really help maybe i will ride my bike everywere

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