Having credibility is a major key to any business website — and especially in today’s context, there is nothing comparable to third party and customer endorsements, the kind of credibility you can build on the web when they say good things about your business.
It makes a world of difference hearing about something from outsiders than hearing from a sales person or representative of a business.
It’s imperative that businesses do as much as they can to ensure that others are talking about them, spreading the word, and building credibility for the business. Social networking based community platforms can play a very central role in this process.
Think about this …
What do visitors come across on your business website that builds some kind of trust and confidence in your business and makes them feel that you are the business to go to for their requirement?
Perhaps the “About Us” page?
The management team?
Your list of existing customers and clients?
Your contact information, like an address?
All of these components play some role in building confidence, along with other things like the look and feel, design, and how professional the site appears.
As for third party endorsements, these are usually found in the form of customer testimonials, which are great simply because they come from others who have good things to say about their experiences with your business.
However, in the social web, there is a lot more that people look for to re-assure them about your business. What are others saying? Are people blogging about you? Are other people discussing your products and offerings on forums? What’s the chatter about you on Twitter? Do you have any communities or groups where we can hear what people are saying about your business?
All these things play some role — a community software platform can add this dimension to your business website.
Building a public facing community for your business can provide people with a place to communicate with you and also with each other. Simply providing a completely open, transparent environment where users can have a say can instill a ton of credibility. It says that you as a business are open to transparent dialog and encourage users to communicate freely about your products and services. It provides a platform for a user seeking assurance to sign up and talk to others inside and outside your business, to get unbiased opinions from other customers … which is often more convincing than hard selling.
Social networks and communities become the places we as consumers turn to for assurances and opinions — the community section on a business website may just be the place to find the credibility we seek.