SEO and social media bods flocked to the Bridgewater Hall on Wednesday for the very first SAScon event. The conference, set up by a number of companies, including Manchester SEO agency Push On and PR gurus Brazen, was an intellectual affair which saw a host of household names talk social marketing and search engine optimisation. And very good it was too.
One of the main themes flowing through the conference, particularly from the social media workshops, was the need for engagement; the importance of understanding and forming a relationship with an audience. It was a topic brought up in each of the three SM panels throughout the course of the day.
The point was repeatedly raised in one of the last sessions. During one of the most engaging panels, a number of business leaders, including Phil Jones, director of Brother UK, spoke about the various techniques employed by big brands in the social medium.
“Our mantra is 'time, attention and trust,” Jones commented.
Trust is the ultimate goal for anyone in social media. A single person wants their opinion to be trusted, while a company wants someone to trust in their products and brand.
But it isn't an easy emotion for brands to earn. It's a fickle concept and to gain the trust of an individual doesn't necessarily mean that you obtain the goodwill of the collective.
Trust has a face
Trust, according to a number of the panellists during the day, is a product which results from the authenticity of an account; consumers desire transparency.
Several speakers commented that users want to know the person behind the keyboard of an account, regardless of whether the author is an M.D or a customer service assistant. This tactic quickly establishes a human connection with the customer, theoretically making it somewhat easier to gain the trust of the user.
I'd argue that this is one of the most important factors when it comes to establishing a trusting relationship between brand and consumer.
Indeed, a number of social campaigns, particularly on Twitter, immediately make it clear who is operating the account – Kellogg's and Vodafone (both pictured below) immediately spring to mind. These profiles immediately establish a human connection.
Of course, trust cannot only be influenced by a picture of someone in a snorkel. It has to be earned through engagement, transparency and openness. Still, I'd say that a 'personalised company account' is far better at establishing a rapport with a consumer than an avatar of a corporate logo. A person has dreams, fears and bills to pay. You can relate to that.
Comparatively, a logo has sales projections and efficiency drives.
Which one would you rather trust with your money?