Digital Marketers — You Need to Regain Your Customers’ Trust in Social Media. Here’s Why.

Part 1 of 2

Hey digital marketers! By now, I’m sure you know that trust in social media has dropped dramatically over the last few years, and for good reasons. Thanks to Fake news, Data privacy breaches (shout out Facebook), bots, and fake accounts, it’s no wonder that people have become increasingly wary of social media lately. And in the wake of GDPR, the conversation around social media trust will only continue to grow.

But distrust in social media is only part of the problem. Along with it comes distrust in brands as well.

In the U.S. alone, we experienced the biggest loss in trust ever measured from 2017 to 2018, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Trust in U.S. institutions dropped from trusted (68) down to distrust (45). That’s kind of a big deal, and it’s a bit scary.

As a marketer, you need to focus on rebuilding trust with your consumers on social media to restore trust in your brand. But before you can do that, you need to understand how this loss of trust in social media platforms is already impacting marketing. Allow me to enlighten you.

Distrust in social media is only part of the problem. Along with it comes distrust in brands as well. Do your consumers trust your brand on social? Click To Tweet

Consumers can’t discern real from fake anymore.

  • Consumers are increasingly turning to social media to find product and service information, but they quickly lose trust in the content they find when they get there. That’s a big problem, and it’s largely due to the lack of objective facts and rational discourse in social media. Yikes!
  • There is fear around fake news being used as a weapon. It is all too easy for bad guys to plant negative reviews and false information to try to influence people (as evidenced by the influence of Russian bots in the 2016 presidential election). The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 7 in 10 worry about false news being used as a weapon (see graphic below)

More Social Media users have moved to private messaging (dark social)

  • The public sharing of content has dropped (see graphic below for stats) and instead, people are sharing content via private messaging (WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, etc.) – a.k.a. “dark social.” This puts pressure on YOU, the marketer, to create high value content that is designed to be more publicly shareable.
  • Dark social traffic is more valuable than ever. It is effectively word-of-mouth referrals between people who are likely to know each other well, and therefore the information they share is considered trustworthy. This is important to note!

The rise of dark social shares puts pressure on YOU, the marketer, to create high value content that is designed to be more publicly shareable. Click To Tweet

Renewed Confidence in Experts

  • There’s been an emergence of trust in subject matter experts, thought leaders, and coaches/advisors as influencers, instead of celebs or paid endorsements. We humans crave genuine relationships, and advice from real humans using the product or service - not paid spokespeople.
  • It’s key to understand that there’s a difference between “influencers” and “thought leaders.” Yes, thought leaders do influence people, but the difference is that thought leaders care deeply about their industry and have put time and effort into becoming an expert. Therefore, they are trusted more than “influencers” who are paid to promote a product or service.
  • Edelman teamed up with LinkedIn on the study of over 1,300 business decision makers and c-suite execs to explore how thought leadership influences the B2B purchase process. Over 80% of respondents said strong thought leadership pieces had increased their trust of an organization and 51.5% cited it as a major element they use to vet potential partners. (source)

“[Thought leaders] learn all the time, they make it a point to generate quality and authentic content, not for their own profit or someone else’s profit, but for the purpose of educating others about something they’re passionate” – Elinor Cohen, founder of The Engagement Strategy Group. (source)

The Origin of Content Matters

  • Content needs to be an experience and provide value – with tangible takeaways that make a difference to audiences, not just marketing pushes.
  • Trust in content usually lies beyond the status quo - innovative content such as GIFs, graphics, video, and interactive guides that are highly-targeted to a specific audience will provide more value because it will connect right to the audience.

The way information is packaged is important. We should think about content as an experience for our audiences, not just a message.” – @megconley, Social Tribe CEO + Founder Click To Tweet

Now that you understand some of the impact that lack of trust in social media is having on marketing as we know it, it’s time to take action to regain your customers’ trust in social platforms and the messages you share on those platforms. This will in turn build more trust for your brand. It’s a win-win! Check out part 2 of this post for some actionable insights that you can put into practice right away!