Tips for building brand trust in the digital world

Recent research from e-marketer provides some good insight for brands looking to build trust with consumers online. It puts some tangible numbers around the effect of something that our parents ingrained in us at an early age – “don’t talk to strangers”. It seems we all took on board that advice, and have an inherent mistrust towards people that we don’t know or don’t have a strong social connection with.

Sources of information users trust on social media - June 2010, emarketer, Carl Gallagher

The table above shows that posts on Facebook, and blogs from people we know are the most trusted of online content. As you move away from the more personal channels such as Facebook where our “life” is on display (depending on your privacy settings), towards more impersonal channels such as twitter, or an online forum (where your true identity can potentially be quite anonymous), trust starts to decrease.

What is worrying for brands is that even if they are communicating on Facebook with their audience, or have followers on twitter or their blog, trust levels around this conversation stagnate in a sort-of middle ground where consumers feel rather indifferent about the trustworthiness communication – and therefore more likely to be less receptive or even skeptical to your message.

What’s a brand to do when even the people who have “liked” it on Facebook don’t overwhelmingly trust what it has to say?

The only way brands can get beyond this hurdle and really start to grow trust with consumers is to get others to do the talking about you to people they know.

Brands that use online and in particular, social media to broadcast a message out to followers would be wise to shift their marketing effort more towards branded content that people will want to talk about, and share with their friends. That way the brand can ride on the back of this immediate heightened level of trust that comes with communication between two people who personally know each other.

Marketing efforts that use social media generate content and start If it’s possible to stimulate word-of-mouth and “talk-ability” about your brand then that is when the brand can leverage our inherent trust that we have with our close connections and people we actually know.

This research once again highlights the importance of having a good balance of paid and earned media to not only get a brand message out there, but also have strategies that will stimulate the conversation amongst people who know each other.

So, now that I have told you all of this, how much do you trust what I have to say? Well chances are if you know me personally then there is nearly a 70% chance that you at least somewhat trust this post. On the other hand if we have not met then this figure would definitely swing the other way. For you lot, all I can say is “Trust me! I work in Advertising!”

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