I've been exploring conversational marketing lately, both for some of the talks I give and to advise clients on appropriate and effective ways to not just engage our audiences in conversation, but also persuade them. If we, as social media marketers, are not using the engagement opportunity to motivate those audiences to do something, then there's little business purpose in having the conversations in the first place.

At Social Media Plus last week, I talked about conversational marketing and came away from the presentation thinking a lot about trust. My theory around conversational marketing is that success occurs when our genuine participation (that without marketing as motivation) earns enough trust from our audience to share information that is driven by our business. But trust is earned in a variety of ways.

Trust from EDHAR on Shutterstock.com

Public relations professionals can take months to earn the trust of a media member. You don't immediately trust a child care professional with your children. Search engines don't trust a brand new blog with the top search result if it hasn't garnered some links and traffic.

But trust is also something we randomly give away in certain circumstances. You trust strangers on the street to give you directions. You trust random people to watch your bag while you throw something away at the airport. You may even trust a product recommendation made in a conversation near you that you only overheard.

Why? Or more importantly, what is it that makes people trust us?

Without a great deal of discussion (that's what the comments are for), here's a list of 25 different ways you can earn trust, both on- and off-line:

25 Simple Ways To Earn Trust

  1. Be polite
  2. Dress neatly
  3. Smile
  4. Shake hands firmly
  5. Hug if appropriate
  6. Illustrate your knowledge
  7. Make eye contact
  8. Speak clearly
  9. Share ideas, content and praise
  10. Be positive
  11. Ask how they are doing
  12. Know when to shut up
  13. Use a clear and distinctive avatar
  14. Talk about everything but you most of the time
  15. Be confident your product or service is valuable
  16. Make it easy for people to buy, but also to return
  17. Say “please” “thank you” and “excuse me”
  18. Admit when you're wrong
  19. Don't gloat when you're right
  20. Hold the door or elevator for someone else
  21. Pay attention to those talking to you
  22. Don't gossip
  23. Be open minded
  24. Respect their right to not answer or agree
  25. Do all of that consistently

What more can you think of? The comments are yours.

IMAGE: By EDHAR on Shutterstock.com