Effective digital communication requires credibility. As a digital PR consultant, I'm constantly involved with conversations about gaining more followers, better social engagement, and developing interactive audiences. But I think something is missing from many conversations. The first question we should ask is why would anyone want to interact with us?
Credibility has always been at the heart of organization/public relationships. Communication and marketing research is riddled with studies that support this idea. While the history of this concept is rather complicated and includes numerous dimensions, it can be summed up in a more simplified way: Credibility is an organization's expertise and trustworthiness.
While many organizations think about how to position themselves as a thought leader and industry expert, or how they will have integrity and reliability in relationships to build trust, the overall focus on credibility through social media seems to get lost sometimes. We focus so much on relationships, we forget to consider what makes strong organizational/public relationships. In PR, we can't simply use social media like an individual does. We need to highlight our brand's expertise & trustworthiness because we're building a different kind of relationship than a one-to-one friendship.
So how can we do this? Well, there's a lot of ways (and I'll share some more in coming posts). But for now, here's just a few:
1) Use personable interaction. When people post, respond with their names and do it in a timely manner. This shows that you value them. While we often just chalk this up to "social media needs immediate responses"...what is actually taking place is a communication that your brand values individuals and their perspectives. You treat them like humans.
2) Post notes, blogs, or videos that provide a unique take or insight into something happening in the industry. You want people to come to you first to get an opinion on something. Be the thought leader.
3) Don't just say what you do (by filling out the amazing "about" section on whatever social platform you're on). Show people what you do. Post photos of your organization in action. Share reports. Be transparent and accountable. This builds people's trust in your mission and values.