Whenever you are able to directly market your artwork to your buyers, they will get a feel for whether or not you are trustworthy just by paying attention to your body language and the tone of your voice. Doing business online, however, makes those “trust markers” impossible to read.
So how do you build trust online?
First and foremost by presenting a clear, cohesive message across all your online activities. . . from social networking sites, to closed forums, to private messaging.
Here are 5 tips for building trust through social networking:
1. Don’t make it about “you”
Anthony Johnson, President of SpiralOut Consulting LLC says, quite bluntly but truthfully, “It’s not all about you.”
“It’s about the community. People aren’t going to follow you if all you do is try to sell them stuff and promote yourself. Provide value in the form of tips. Offer information your followers want to know. Discuss topics you have specialized knowledge in.”
And above all else, Anthony says, “Put yourself in your followers’ shoes. Become a trusted resource, instead of a salesperson.”
Linda Lovero-Waterhouse, Web Presence Strategist for WSI Web Systems says her number one tip for building trust through social media is to “develop a relationship with your listeners. Educate, then promote.”
And though she hasn’t done analytical studies herself, she has heard that a ratio of “10 educational posts to 1 promotional post” is a good place to start.You can always adjust the ratio based upon the feedback you receive in your own social media networks.
2. Be sociable
Dan Smith, Head of Online Communications at The Blog Shop, believes the most important piece of building trust online is to be more “social.”
“Consumers want to find out more information about the businesses they’re interested in, but they don’t want update after update about your products or services.”
“They want to use Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks to communicate with businesses.”
So the next time you think about listing one of your art pieces, take the time to figure out how you can present that piece in a more social manner. Share the story behind your piece. Discuss areas of difficulty and how you overcame those difficulties. Share your favorite aspect of the piece. And finally, take the time to respond to anyone who has commented on the piece.
3. Show the real you
Mihaela Lica Butler, Principal Partner at Pamil Visions PR believes the key to building trust online is to be “genuine.”
“We have more success with clients who don’t hide behind a fake dogma; who aren’t afraid of being themselves.”
She goes on to say that you shouldn’t be afraid to show your art buyers who you really are because when you show them who you are, you create “brand ambassadors” who want to spread the word about your art, and your business.
Sandra Beckwith, Book Marketing Coach for Build Book Buzz echoes that advice by saying, “Use a photo of yourself for your profile image, not a photo of your art, or company logo. People want to connect with people, not products or businesses.”
4. Respond to your fans
Jennifer Fenske, Founder of Fat and Appy, a site dedicated to creating iPad apps for children, believes that responding to customers in a timely manner is just as important as making sure you’re not always selling.
“Remember to listen to suggestions. Answer questions. And address complaints in a timely fashion.” When you respond to your fans (or customers), you show them that “you aren’t shouting at them, but are having a conversation with them.”
5. Be consistent
Ann Albergotti, President of Platinum Marketing Solutions believes you need to be consistent if you want to build trust online.
From how you portray your company across various social networks, to how often you post, to the way you interact with your fans/customers, you need to have a relevant amount of consistency.
“Consistency in not only about sharing valuable information that your audience is looking for in order to help them overcome challenges (i.e. case studies, industry news, testimonials and press coverage), but it is also about engaging your audience by asking thoughtful, forward questions that they will want to respond to, then following up on their answers.”
Building trust and connecting with art buyers across social media will certainly take time, but in the end I think you’ll find it’s worth the effort—not just in sales, but also in the very real relationships that you will form with your fans and the buyers who collect your art.