It is a well known fact that brands with a strong social media presence are seen as more human than those without.

Social media can offer businesses a great opportunity to build loyalty and trust with their customers, especially SMEs and businesses that don’t have a long history within our memory. In fact, according to research conducted by Trustpilot, 29% of those who were surveyed say they consider brands with an active social media profile as more human and approachable than large corporate operations.

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31% of the people taking part in the survey stated they would be more happy to communicate with smaller companies that are willing to help them online through social media with genuine conversations. They confirmed that this approach would help to build a sense of trust with the company and would encourage them to be a repeat customer – so building loyalty along the way.

Even before becoming a customer for the first time, 20% of the research participants said they would be more encouraged to buy from a SME after checking out their social media profile first to see how they interact with their followers. Those with an established, active and positive profile would attract more first-time buyers than those with only a website to offer.

What type of social media presence is best?

It is all very well having social media accounts set up across different platforms, but they type of presence you have, the image you give off and they sort of content you share is also of great importance.

Looking at the Trustpilot data gathered, it seems that most customers prefer fresh, organic content. In fact 24% said they would trust companies more when there was evidence that they had grown their social media presence by interacting with their followers. Almost one quarter commented that they would be less inclined to trust a brand that use paid advertising to grow their profile.

Regarding paid advertising, only 16% said they would pay attention to sponsored content on social media. This data has sparked interest amongst social media providers and in response Facebook decided to launch brand new analytical tools that allow businesses to measure how effective their paid advertising is in attracting people to clink through to their website or pay a visit to their store.

So far the results from the feedback received are interesting. What seems to be happening is that people are becoming increasingly savvy about spotting sponsored posts. Even new sales tools and ad incarnations are attracting lower levels of trust and acceptance among followers.

Organic all the way?

The research seems to indicate a strong lean towards the use of organic content to help persuade customers to build trust and ultimately buy from you. Engaging, interesting and useful content through blog posts and social shares as well as human conversation helps customers to reduce any perceived purchase risks they may have.

SMEs need to understand what sort of content their customers and followers want to see on their site and plan their strategies accordingly.

Become ‘follow-worthy’ to become a winner

You could sign yourself up for a business account on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, or any other network that takes your fancy – but no one can turn down these three simple things: free stuff, being famous, and being right.

Being famous doesn’t have to mean hiring a celebrity to endorse your business – even attempting to become famous yourself. You can create fame from almost nothing – try Googling Innocent drinks 4th floor stapler to see what I mean. OK, Innocents stapler isn’t as famous as George Clooney, but their posts about its adventures around the world still went viral.

If your aim is to get more people into your physical store or shop then try running a weekly contest for your followers to like and share your posts as often as possible. You can then monitor your shares and pick a winner per month to receive a goody bag or lucky dip box made up of a few select items from around your store.

Have a live Twitter debate using a custom hashtag – just make sure you get involved in the conversation and talk with your followers. You want to make people curious about your posts and see that they are welcome to join in with the debate.

Check your Instagram feed daily and share photos that you have asked your followers to send to you while posing with your product or the results of a challenge you have set them. Make it as interactive as possible, but above all make it fun.

When you show your human side to your business social media posts, you will be heading in the right direction for success.