Developing your online voice and presence – what’s trust got to do with it?

Valuable professional relationships all start with trust. In a world that has become increasingly polarized, many individuals are putting their trust in businesses to address issues important to them. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Study (The State of Trust in Business), business is trusted more than government in 21 out of 28 global markets surveyed. More specifically, technical experts, academic experts, and financial industry analysts have all gained trustworthiness among respondents.

This current climate offers the opportunity to capitalize on you experience and expertise. Professional should be intrigued by this development. If you’re not creating content that highlights your expertise and using social media to network with your client base, you’re probably failing to build trust and authority with prospects searching for a reliable source of business insights.

When you’re aiming to build relationships with prospects, don’t shy away from providing insight without cost. Professionals who create timely content addressing business needs, challenges, and solutions will maximize their industry and client base value. Content marketing and social media networking can help strengthen your credibility and lead to paid business opportunities.

Out of sight, out of mind

Great business minds know they have to be present in order to build meaningful relationships. And while you may attend important networking functions and industry conference, technology has changed the way people connect and consume information. According to Nielsen, adults in the United States spend over 11 hours a day consuming content – that’s nearly half their day. Almost four hours a day is spent consuming content on computers, smartphones, and tablets. If you don’t have a strong online presence and voice today, you’re probably out of touch with a large part of your target audience.

There is no need to fret because publishing content online can give you a voice. But consistency is key if you want to build credibility with prospects – you might remember some one-hit wonders but do you respect them? You’ll need to routinely drip feed insight that inform clients and prospects about business dynamics affecting their bottom line. If you’re in the business-to-business (B2B) space, keep in mind that according to Demand Gen, 76% of B2B buyers want relevant content that speaks directly to their company’s needs. Repurposing content into editorial, visual, or audio formats will give your insight a longer shelf life, keeping you on your client base’s radar.

This may seem time consuming, but it is essential because buyers’ purchasing cycle has partly increased because they are spending more time researching solutions. By consistently creating content highlighting your expertise, in time you’ll become an authority that your audience trusts and respects. But how can you garner more face time with prospects?

While content provides professionals an online voice, social media offers them an online presence. A steady social media networking presence makes it possible to share your content with new and establish business contacts. LinkedIn is the best network for professionals to engage their audience. What’s more is that LinkedIn is a low maintenance social media network. What does this mean exactly?

According to LinkedIn, posting 20 times a month, or once every business day, can help users reach 60% of their network. A separate analysis by HubSpot showed user engagement levels dropped significantly for companies after they posted more than five times in a week. Even though the network may dissuade users from oversharing content, it’s imperative that you pay attention to your audience. Here’s why.

Listen. Be social.

A good business person is more interested in listening than in being heard. They know it’s impossible to effectively address a client’s needs and pose solutions without first understanding the challenges clients face. Companies are increasingly using social media to find business solutions. Consider the following figures from the Demand Gen report cited earlier in this post:

  • 47% of B2B buyers browsed existing social media discussions to learn more about a topic.
  • 38% asked other network users for suggestions and recommendations.
  • 36% connected with thought leaders on social media to ask for their opinions.

If you’re not networking on social media, you’re losing out on the opportunity to educate your client base and steer prospects to your products and services. You’re not going to earn trust that way.

Social listening can help you monitor relevant industry conversations. All you have to do is follow relevant industry hashtags and keyword phrases. Still, you also need to do more than monitor what people are saying about your industry. Analyze the tone and sentiment in your audience’s dialogue to learn about their pain points and how you can tackle them. Then add to the discussion by offering expert perspective.

People usually buy from people they like, so being personable is key on social media. Consumer research shows that a majority of people distrust advertising. Be resourceful not salesy. That said, if people like your posts, engage them in conversation. Ask them to include their thoughts. Think of it this way: if someone mentioned they liked something you said at a networking event, you wouldn’t ignore them, would you? Of course not. Pay attention to your audience.

Social listening may also help you identify trends developing within your business circles around which you can create tailored content. Once you connect the dots, you’ll be in an ideal position to produce content with actionable information for your client base. Having a dedicated online voice and presence is not meant to replace your offline dealings but should complement those activities.

Remember, in a time when trust in government and news organizations has waned, trust in expert thought leadership has increased. Developing a consistent content marketing and social media networking strategy offers those in consultancy roles the opportunity to inform key stakeholders about important business issues and connect with others in their sales funnel. Professionals who employ this strategy will enhance their credibility, positioning themselves as trustworthy assets to their client base.

Javier Sanabria is a professional marketer who has worked with established and emerging brands for over 12 years. To learn more about his experience and expertise, follow him on LinkedIn.

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