Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

It's been well documented that people don't trust corporations as much as they used to. But who do they trust? It's largely people from two categories: third party experts (academics, some media sources, analysts, etc.) and "people like me."

But when it comes to social media, we've also heard that people don't trust bloggers (from Forrester, no less). I've often doubted that assertion, particularly because it seems rather misleading. While the category of bloggers as a whole may be untrusted, people develop relationships with the blogs they follow and read most closely, and therefore develop a sense of trust with them.

This is demonstrated rather well by a recent study highlighted over on eMarketer: "What Makes Social Media Trustworthy?" in which they look at which sources of information are trusted by users of social media:
Take great notice of the percentages above: 30% or less feel they trust a brand, product or company based on a Twitter feed or participation in an online community; less than 40% trust a brand's Facebook updates or blog posts. However over 60% trust blog posts and Facebook updates from someone they know.

What does this mean for marketers? It means you need to get out from behind that logo and letting your employees represent the company in a real and human way. Make it apparent that real people (dare I say, people just like your customers?) work for you and that they can represent your brand or product in an authentic manner in places where it matters to your target audience..

The platform and even the personality are one thing. But what about the way interaction is conducted over social networks? To me, it's more about what you do than where you participate; that is, it's about the value that you bring to your customers or users rather than how many platforms you're on. The respondents to the study would also seem to concur:
Take a look at these numbers closely: people are saying that they want an opportunity for two-way dialog - not one-way messaging from your brand and not a place where they can simply vent. They want conversation - and an honest one that's open to negatives as well as positives. After all, that's how real people speak, isn't it?

Your staff should actively prepare for this frenetic and fast-paced environment, too: 60% say that responsiveness is important to them. This not only means that the author of a post, tweet or comment responds, but does so in a timely manner. Interestingly, the volume of content seems less important, as only 42% care about that. But they don't fault the marketer for not having a lot of fans or for not participating for very long. To the customer, it's important that you are participating first and foremost.

These are just a few instances of ways to measure trust. It's an important concept to consider. As an additional resource, I highly recommend Chris Brogan and Julien Smith's Trust Agents, as you can learn a great deal about this area in much more depth.

Who do you trust? And more importantly: why?

Oh, and if you were wondering about the image above, that's Bo, the boyfriend who jumped out of the way and let his girlfriend take a foul ball to the arm. They're not together any more. Trust issues.