Social media is sweeping the online universe! Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, or Pinterest, there are numerous ways to stay connected. So it only makes perfect sense to use this unstoppable social media machine to power up your business and build your followers’ trust.

Here are the 12 most reliable ways to build trust with social media marketing.

1. Be human

You are not a social media marketing robot, so don’t act like one! You will earn current and prospective customers’ trust if you show them that you care for their questions, concerns, and interests. Respond to them! Engage with them! This will make the reader feel like they matter and they do! Plus, when you directly respond to social media followers that may not yet be customers, it gives them a sense of the attention you will give them when they do become a paying customer!

2. Be helpful

Your customers have specific questions that they need answered. They have specific problems that need solutions. So what better way to earn their trust than to help them out? Social media marketing is all about the customer. Give them what they’re looking for. Be their solution. And of course, do this in an inviting and accommodating way.

3. Be educational

You are an expert in your field and you want your customers to know this. But beware: You don’t want to do it in an obnoxious or boastful manner. Avoid words that people won’t understand. Yes, you are a genius in your field, but that doesn’t mean your social media followers are as well. The jargon that may seem understandable to you could be like gibberish to others.

4. Make your links relevant

Any time your posts to social media include a link to your website, you want that link to be relevant. You wouldn’t tweet about the best summer vacation spots and provide a link to your website about snowboarding. Show the reader you are reliable. They will expect a link to summer getaways, so to earn their trust — give them what they expect.

5. Be generous

Your posts on social media don’t only have to link back to your website. Be generous and provide other useful links that may not necessarily promote your business, but are fun and creative ways to solve your customer’s problems and relate to them. Readers will appreciate the useful information you share and recognize that your main concern is not yourself, but them.

6. Listen and learn

There is a lot to learn from what your customers are talking about on social media. Use their conversation as indicators for what you should create posts about. If many of your customers are posting similar concerns or interests that all relate, then listen to those concerns and contribute to the conversation. Social media is one place where overhearing a conversation is a good thing.

7. Be courteous

We all learned common manners in kindergarten, so use those manners in social media to gain your customers’ trust. If a customer comments on your post with a compliment about how useful and helpful you are, say thank you. Show your social media followers that you hear and see their comments and more importantly, that you appreciate them!

8. Give to get

This may sound like relationship or marital advice, but in social media marketing “give to get” is a very important concept to master. Sure, you have to give time and effort to social media marketing, but in return you get customers! You give readers your useful knowledge and in return they give you their business. If you give readers content that they simply cannot live without, you will most certainly get their trust in return.

9. Be consistent

Timing is everything. Know how many social media posts you want to publish weekly or monthly — hey… maybe even daily. Whatever floats your boat, but you want to keep a steady rhythm so that customers realize your reliability.

10. Voice

Maintain a consistent voice for your business. You don’t want your customers questioning who you are. To gain their trust, your voice should stay consistent with each post that you create.

11. Know your customer

We all have wants and needs, and so does your customer. Know who they are and what types of questions they are asking. You wouldn’t tweet about the latest punk rock band if your customers are ages 65 and up. Target your customer personas by centering your social media posts around their interests and their concerns.

12. Take risks

Social media gives you the ability to test the waters. It is the perfect place for you to see what will be a hit or miss with readers. If you are uncertain about a topic that will or will not gain much interest, just try it out. Social media, rather than your business’s website, is where you have a little more freedom to experiment. Who knows, maybe the outcome will be better than you expected.