In the book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Julien Smith and Chris Brogan, the authors discuss topics and give insight into leading successful online communities based on genuine trust and forming long-lasing interpersonal relationships.
Times have changed and gaining the trust on an individual level is more complex than ever before. Anyone can be a journalist by simply creating an account on wordpress.com or tumblr.com. As a content creator, how do you establish trust and credibility with your audience? Well, Smith and Brogan suggest the label trust agent, but dare not call yourself a trust agent. It is not selected by the individual, but rather ascribed by others who can attest to your specific skill sets and talents. A trust agent is someone who has mastered the “extension of the human body” by using digital mediums to broadcast to audiences, understanding new technologies, and leveraging one-to-many communication methods. Trust agents are non-sale orientated, non-high marketers, and like community managers take a genuine interest in humanizing their business.
In becoming a trust agent, the authors suggest several steps. I am going to discuss three that I feel are most significant. The first is gaining new skill sets. It’s highly important to in the know and fully aware of how to operate new technological advances and digital platforms that arise.
Second the authors feel community managers should recognize the shift from creating content for the individual opposed responding to the group’s interest. As a community manager, it is your duty to keep your audience engaged. Part of embracing your audience requires listening and sheer willingness to provide user satisfaction.
Third, Smith and Brogan provided the three A’s to address customer complaints and dissatisfactions. Those include: acknowledge, apologize, and act. Although, it’s agreed that these suggestions are a great solution to resolving conflict with customers/users, will it work in every case? As community manager, you have the right to filter through material and decide which posts are relevant. Posts that negatively impact your community can be removed and reported. In other cases, simply ignoring the post all together is an even better solution. Pick and choose the battles you’re willing to tackle.
Lastly, Smith and Brogan speak on building an army, which in other words translates into have an internal community. “Build an Army. No matter how great you think you are, you can’t do it all alone”. By establishing a mastermind group of all highly talented individuals sharing the same core values and goals, your community will expand and others will place value on what you do.
Smith and Brogan outline very basic yet extremely crucial steps in becoming a person online users can confide in. As a community manager, which steps do you think are necessary for gaining the trust of your audience? Include your responses in the comment box. Feel free to use examples not stated above.