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Why you should build customer trust as a product marketing leader

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Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Ensuring your organization builds customer trust is one of the most important things you can do as a product marketing leader.

You want to have a long-standing relationship with your customers to increase their loyalty to your organization, improve overall brand reputation, and ultimately bring in those much-needed sales so you can meet your company-wide and departmental goals.

In an episode of 48 Hours to Lead, host Josh Lory spoke to Samantha Wu, who at the time was the VP of Consumer and Brand Product Marketing at Facebook and is now the Chief Marketing Officer at Braintrust.

In the episode, they spoke about a whole host of things pertaining to her role at Facebook (now Meta), building customer relationships as a product marketing leader including:

Samantha’s philosophy around leadership

Q: Can you share your philosophy around leadership? And/or some of the principles that guide you and your team every single day?

A: Here’s how I think about leadership – I really lead in service of people. How good I am as a leader, and how effective I am as a leader is really based on the team and how good my team is.

What does leading in service look like? Good leaders give people space to thrive. They surround themselves with talent that can actually bring these different perspectives and experiences that complement their own strengths and round out their gaps.

So, as a leader, you’re in service of your team and your people. And when you do that, what happens is the impact and the effect you can have on the business, the culture, and even your own personal professional growth is compounded tenfold.

You’re the conductor of an orchestra. But it’s the actual musicians that are sitting in the orchestra who are making the magic.

So for me, it’s really about the team and being in service of the team.

How to empower your team members

Q: Giving your team members space to thrive and go as fast as possible and really empowering them to do so makes all the difference in the world. So can you just give a couple of examples of how you do that with your team members?

A: Before I jump into the examples, I was thinking a lot about how I show up every day, and how I hope people show up. One of the things that I’ve been codifying more is when I show up to work today, I’m bringing grit, and, I hope, grace and gratitude in how I lead.

We’re going through quite an unprecedented, volatile time right now. Looking at it from a macro context, there’s just so much stuff going on. I also work at the center of tech, and I think the uncertainty, the volatility, and the constant change that is happening can feel overwhelming.

And so, when faced with that every day, I think one of the things I like to do is make sure that as we’re going through changes in priority, budget changes, cuts, changes in directions, different expectations, leadership changes… is ensure that I am showing up with grace, with a growth mindset, and having gratitude that change is a good thing.

Q: That’s beautiful. And what I took away from your previous comments was, we’re going through an unprecedented time of change, and showing up as a consistent, gritty, grateful leader, through your actions and your role modeling people get confidence from that. So I really appreciate that. And it’s great for your team and others that interact with you every single day.

A: Yeah, and certainly for those of us who work in tech, there’s a lot of fatigue in different ways around the separation between work and home. Life starts to feel less so because we’re constantly in front of our screens. Certainly, for Facebook, our business is thriving, because in this new world people have realized how important connection is, and our platform has enabled that.

We’re in this marathon that’s not really going to end, right? Whether it’s this new way of living because of the pandemic or the way of working. And so a lot of how we navigate through that, as leaders, is not only leading by example, but it’s the perspectives and the orientation that you bring to the situation. And for me, it really is about doing that with grit, but also with a lot of gratitude. And I think that helps us continue on this marathon.

Building customer trust via branding and product marketing

Q: What is your team doing to build consumer trust via branding and product marketing?

A: I would say that trust is something the whole company is focused on across all of our businesses and certainly inclusive of financial services and the digital wallet. We fundamentally believe that it’s imperative that the community trusts us, and that we continue to earn that trust.

And so part of what the company and what my team does with every product launch and every piece of communication is ensuring that we’re really transparent in our decision-making. That we explain the rationale of our decisions, and the trade-offs that we’re weighing and we ensure our community really understands how we handle their information.

Obviously, it’s a complex issue, because it touches so many different parts of our business. I think that we’re really consistent and clear on making good on the promises and commitments that we have put out there publicly.

An example of what that looks like is that we think a lot about online privacy, right? We want people to use the tools and services on our platform and it’s a huge area of focus for us. So we spend a lot of time on that. It’s not just in the marketing itself, but also in working as one team to make sure that we’re protecting people’s privacy.

And so we’ve made a lot of investments in the technology itself and how we even designed the privacy and the products – which is privacy first. How we allow controls around sharing of information usually defaults to the most private or last type of sharing option that consumers have put. In the case of Facebook, it’s how they share their information when they post.

We also look really closely at how the data is used and make sure that there are proper safeguards in place. It’s really, for us, how that shows up, how we build our products with a privacy-first mindset, how we then launch them, and how we make sure that the communication is super clear and transparent, and easily understood for consumers.

That’s kind of generally how we think about it. It’s imperative that we continue to be very transparent and clear about what we’re doing because there’s just so much happening right now in this space and technology, and Facebook, obviously, is very much at the front and center of a lot of these issues as well.

What makes a brand trustworthy

Q: When you think about the most trustworthy brands that you use in your day-to-day, what are those aspects that make them the most trustworthy brands? Why do you keep going back to them?

A: There are many vectors that I think about, but for me, it’s really about the experience that I have as a consumer, where it’s easy to follow and understand. So that could be as simple as how I’m interacting with an app and how I’m navigating through that and understanding how each piece of that comes together.

But it has to be easy for me to get information or basic customer service if something goes wrong. If I have a problem with my account, if my order isn’t being delivered, it needs to be easy for me to get help, reach customer service, and get it resolved immediately.

I started my career at American Express. And now it seems very basic, but one of the things that that company does very well is if you have a charge on your card but it’s not your charge, no questions asked, you can call them and they take care of it. That is an incredible trust with consumers nowadays.

It seems commonplace practice but back in the day, when they first started doing it, they were really an industry leader in doing what most other issuers made you jump through hoops and fences for.

Amex just took the approach of no questions asked and they would resolve it for you on the back end. So I think those are some of the examples of brands that create that experience, and you inherently build that trust.

Educating your consumer

Q: Leadership is hard. It really requires us to balance major competing priorities and deal with a lot of areas. And so like many social media companies, Facebook relies on rich consumer data coupled with your ad business to drive top-line growth.

So with that, how does your team educate almost 36% of the world that are active users on data privacy, misinformation, and healthy online activity while also scaling the advertising business? What are some of the examples of how you’re educating your consumers on those things?

A: That’s a big question that would probably require more time for me to do it justice in terms of all the ways that I think about it, and all the things that we’re doing against that. So let’s just pick one of the areas that you pointed to, and let’s talk through that in terms of how we balance that.

If I think about misinformation, specifically, in the pandemic and health misinformation, here are some of the things that we thought about…

First off, our point of view and our belief is that we’re really committed to making sure that the information we put on our platform is reliable. And specific to health, we have encouraged people to get vaccinated and fight the spread of harmful health misinformation, right?

We promote and encourage vaccines across platforms because health misinformation during that pandemic is a critical issue to us.

We’re committed to having substantiated sources to make sure we’re putting out the right information on the platform to encourage people to get vaccinated during the pandemic. And so we built a COVID hub and with that work, we’ve had – I think – 3.3 million people visit the vaccine finder to make appointments and to get all of the right information.

We’ve also connected over 2 billion people to expert resources. So, part of what we believe is the responsibility of the platform is connecting people to all of those right resources of information.

We’re also about finding that balance, putting a lot of focus, resources, and time into making sure that we’re removing misinformation that health experts believe cause imminent harm. Because it’s what I would call harmful vaccine-related misinformation.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve actually removed something like 18 million instances of COVID-19 misinformation. We label it as misinformation, and we reduce the visibility of pieces of content that we want to debunk through fast-tracking partners that we work tirelessly with.

And so this is an example of just balancing the two. I think we know that getting it right is hard, and we know that it takes tireless focus and commitment to that, but because it’s so important to us, and we’ve done it, we’ve at least seen on our platform that the hesitancy of vaccines has declined by 50%. We’ve seen that more users on Facebook have been vaccinated.

We’ve done things from a marketing perspective, like campaigns that promote key facts on safety and testing and it’s really increased the belief in vaccine safety. And so this is just like one example of the complexity of all the issues that we balance.

We really work very closely with health experts to make sure that what is being put on our platforms and how we’re managing the information is reliable and accurate so that we can actually mitigate the spread of misinformation, which we know is such a huge focus area for us as a company.

It’s very complex but talking about misinformation in the context of health, and certainly in the context of what we’re experiencing right now is, hopefully, a way to kind of bring to light how we think about these issues. And certainly, the things that I think about as a leader as well.

Jade Warne, Copywriter at our sister community, Community-Led Alliance, gave some awesome tips on how to engage with your community to build that deeper relationship.👇

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