Using Trust Rather than Volume in Social Media, Part I

Posted on February 19, 2010. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , |

Trust Tethers Your Message

Edelman’s annual ‘Trust Barometer’ came out recently, revealing trust in business has risen around the world since 2009, and is up 18 points in the U.S. In addition, Edelman also reports that nearly the same share of respondents around the world (41%) think conversations with employees are credible sources of information about a company as think that of conversations with “persons like yourself” (44%). Just 19% of respondents said social networking sites were reliable sources. When you add that 83% of respondents indicated that the two most important factors to corporate reputation were having “transparent and honest business practices” and being “a company they can trust” (25 points higher than being a company who “prices fairly”) a picture of what all this means begins to form.

The Greek philosopher Plato observed that though having “true opinions” is useful, because true opinions tend to float out of your mind quickly, they’re not especially valuable until you tether them with chains of “reasons why.” And “tethering” reasons why are exactly what the data strongly suggests the vast majority of Facebook “friends” and semi-celebrity tweeters are incapable of giving the average consumer. These sources can only give quick “true opinions,” impressions that don’t tether a brand’s true value message to a potential client.

But because potential customers make little distinction between the ability of a peer to provide “reasons why” a brand is good and the ability of a knowledgeable company employee to do the same, the first lesson here is the great value of getting a credible and knowledgeable brand rep near a client. Of course this still leaves the fundamental problems of “where?” and “how?” so the next installment will provide framework for answering this. The final two installments will explain how to unravel the problem.

Come back on Monday to read more.

Damien DuPont is a report writer and quality assurance specialist in the Dow Jones Media Lab and is based in New York.

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2 Responses to “Using Trust Rather than Volume in Social Media, Part I”

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On the surface I agree, but it doesn’t give me enough ammo to walk into a room of retailers and tell them that they’ll make more money cultivating a few loyal connections than trying to get Oprah level follower numbers.

Thank you for the comment. I agree it would probably be a tough sell but perhaps some of the things I say in the rest of the series can make it easier. I feel pretty sure that if people thought about how related credibility and influence are, and how difficult credibility is to come by in a world of anonymity and sharing with strangers, that more people would be persuaded to cultivate connections rather than shotgun out information.


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