Shopping online can be inherently less trustworthy for consumers. When buying something in a store, you can see and feel it yourself before exchanging money for it.
When shopping online, most want to feel some level of confidence in the company or storefront they are purchasing from because they can’t experience the product firsthand. You can likely see pictures of the product, read a description and perhaps even sift through reviews, but at the end of the day—when you click “Add to cart” and then “Purchase”—you are placing trust in the place you are purchasing from and showing that you believe the company’s message about the product.
It’s tough to gain a customer’s trust online, and easy to lose it. One bad experience, or even a perceived bad experience, can lose a loyal customer or prevent you from gaining a new one. This is why social media is especially important for inventors selling their product online, whether they are using their own website or selling on a marketplace like Amazon.
Some tips for building credibility when selling on social media:
Consistency is key. This doesn’t mean that you need to use the same exact copy everywhere, but your messaging, tone, key differentiators, benefits, features and specs should all stay consistent across your website, marketing materials and, of course, your social media. Use the same types of words and phrases to describe your product and speak to your audience in order to build a strong, credible brand surrounding your invention.
Stay active on your social networks. Make sure you are posting regularly on all of your social profiles. This builds trust by showing your audience that you are invested in your product, brand and customers. You don’t necessarily have to post every day, but you should post often enough that your followers don’t have to question whether or not your accounts are active. On that note, if you know you can’t keep up with five different social networks, choose one or two key networks to focus on and stay active on those.
Interact and network with other brands and individuals. Look for opportunities to put yourself “out there” by interacting with other accounts. “Like” Facebook posts, comment on Instagram posts or retweet Tweets. Whatever social media platforms you use, interacting with others is a great way to get your invention seen by more people, but it can also build credibility. If I see a brand that I trust interacting with your brand, I’m more likely to trust your brand.
Be transparent in everything, good and bad. Customers, or potential customers, are more likely to trust your company and purchase your invention when they feel you are telling them the whole story. Thus, it’s important to use your platforms to share your story. Look for opportunities to tell your audience more about how you invented your product, share news and updates, own up to any public mistakes and respond to negative reviews appropriately. When customers see your honesty and transparency, they’ll feel confident that you aren’t hiding anything and that your product is something they should purchase.
Encourage happy customers to leave reviews. In this age of the internet, reviews are everything—especially on sites such as Amazon. Products with great reviews and ratings rank higher and are more likely to be purchased by consumers. Therefore, positive reviews can do more than nearly anything else to build trust and credibility among current and future customers. Use your social networks to encourage your happy customers to leave positive reviews. If someone writes you a message letting you know how much he or she loves your product, ask that person to write a review on Amazon or share it on his or her own profile.
Have a plan in place to handle customer service issues. If someone has a question about your invention or a problem with your product, chances are good they will take to social media to find a resolution. Get ahead of this by having a strategy for customer service. You should frequently check your messages and responding to anyone who has a question or problem with your product or invention. Dealing with problems efficiently and politely will work wonders for ensuring repeat business and bringing in new business. Whether you are selling a brand-new invention or a product your company has sold for decades, loyalty is incredibly important if you want to make sales.
Consider influencer marketing. Whose opinion do you generally trust more—a brand or a friend/acquaintance? Nearly everyone would trust a friend or an acquaintance over a brand or company. Use this fact to your advantage through influencer marketing. This involves finding an influencer—usually either a blogger or a social media personality—and asking that person to partner with you to promote your product.
Influencers typically receive compensation in the form of free product or monetary payment. They are usually asked to use a product and give their honest review to their followers; they are often also given a coupon code that their followers can use to purchase the product at a discount. There is a strict code of ethics that guides influencer marketing, in addition to rules set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, but influencer marketing can be a great way to build trust or establish credibility when done right.
Only use great pictures. When you’re selling a product on Amazon or on your own ecommerce site, a picture really is worth a thousand words. You can spend paragraph after paragraph describing your invention, but a picture will do much more to show off a product’s look and function.
For this reason, it’s important to ensure all photographs of your invention are top-notch. They should show off all angles of the product and show it in use as well. Make sure colors and parts show up properly, too; if your customer is expecting something black and receives something blue, it’s going to affect his or her level of trust in your brand. Any photos on your website or on your social media accounts should be clear and accurate if you want your audience to trust you.
Establishing trust and credibility can be done with a thoughtful social media strategy!