Do you trust your friends and colleagues to be creditable sources of information about a company? If so, you’re in the minority. According to Edelman’s 2010 Trust Barometer, the number of people who do is 25 percent — a big dip from the 45 percent polled in 2008. What happened?
Social media and PR gaffes may be what happened, says a PRNewser article at Mediabistro. When users of Twitter and Facebook add friends and followers, and then add some more, they have more names and faces but shallower relationships. It makes more sense to trust people you know well rather than a superficial relationship, or a person you know only as an avatar.
Or maybe that social media user is learning more than they wanted, and realizing that infamous tweet or post is coming from a marketer rather than a friend. Pushing your PR message too loudly or too hard can turn away the audience you seek. Users on the Web don’t want to feel they are being sold something, or being taken advantage of. And once you lose that trust online, it’s a long and hard process to earn it back.
But if you have it, then you are doing well. In contrast to Edelman’s study, Nielsen Online says consumers trust personal acquaintances and consumer online opinions the most (perhaps because they seem more genuine and sincere, and not just PR flak, says Pete Blackshaw of Advertising Age). Measuring trust can be tricky, as these two different studies show; but earning trust can be done by listening to your audience as much as engaging them. Doing so creates a win-win situation for everyone.