Every year Edelman releases its Trust Barometer report (Executive Summary) to measure consumer confidence in business and, if we’re taking a cue from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, identify the biggest ‘trust agents’ helping them to make their decisions. This year the findings are getting some people wondering about the overall impact on social media.
Social media has always “worked” because people trusted the advice and recommendations of people ‘like them’ over the cold marketing they were accustomed to. They trusted that their friends and people who valued the same things were better able to help them make decisions than the absent CEO or marketing department of a company. However, thanks to the flood of noise and the emergence of large, impersonal social networks, people are losing trust in social connections and those ‘like them’. Instead, they’re leaning more towards experts, with a strong rise in the transparent CEO.
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What these findings tell me is that the huge growth in social networks and “fake friending” have caused consumers to trust these circles less. Trusting your Facebook friends was a lot more certain when your network was made up of everyone you went to high school with. Now, we friend brands and people we just barely know in order to not appear “rude” and grow inflated friend networks. Naturally that’s going to corrupt the circle.
As a result, we’re looking more toward ‘experts’ to help us make decisions and, increasingly, toward the new CEO who has likely embraced the Social Web and become more open.
How do you take advantage of both of these?
You start blogging.
Blogging as a small business owner allows you to make yourself an expert in your field and also allows you to take advantage of the perks of being a transparent CEO. By allowing your customers to see inside your organization and what you’re about, you allow them to trust what you’re doing and become better acquainted with your brand. You bring them into your story and your every day. And that’s what customers are looking for. In the Executive Summary for the report, it’s noted that this year’s finding proved that trust and transparency are MORE important to corporate reputation than the quality of products and services. Yes. It is more important that you are open with customers than how well the product actually performs. Chew on that for a moment, will you?
If consumers are looking less at one another in order to build that trustthen it’s up to you as the small business owner to build it yourself by establishing yourself as an expert and letting people inside your organization. What better way to do that than with a blog? If you need some blogging ideas, we can help you with that, too.
The survey does cast an interesting picture on social media, in general. If more and more users are becoming distrustful of the medium then it’s going to be interesting to see how this will affect the medium as a whole. Will review sites start to fall out of favor and become more suspect? Will people be less accepting of marketers in social media? Interesting implications all around.