Trust: Do We Believe Your Social Media & Content?

In Your Marketing We Trust (Or Maybe Not) [Research]

One dollar bill Without customer trust your marketing job of persuading prospects and customers to purchase from your organization is difficult at best.

In today’s hyper-connected social media, content marketing and mobile world, potential purchasers can access whatever purchase-related content they desire, whether it’s from your firm, your competitors’ organizations, and/or third party media entities, not to mention your past buyers.

If buyers don’t trust your firm or its representatives, it’s a sure bet they’ll seek other information and consider it more reliable than yours.

Message repetition builds customer trust

On average, two-thirds of customers need to hear a company’s message 3 to 5 times before they believe it based on Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer. This ratio has remained relatively constant for the past few years.
2013 Edelman Trust Barometer-Information repetition

Media platform trust matters

Yet for your audience – it’s not just a matter of believing your message after they’ve heard it a number of times. The platform where your message appears is also crucial. If they don’t trust that, then they probably don’t trust your message.

  •  65% of consumers believe content from traditional media and search engines. Third party media entities have more credibility with consumers.
  • Roughly 45% of consumers believe information on social media or own (aka corporate) media.  While not as trustworthy as media entities, social and owned media provide platforms where marketers can publish and distribute their messages more cost-effectively.

2014 Edelman Trust Barometer-Information Trust-3

Customer trust in business? (There’s still work to be done!)

During the past year, consumers’ impressions of businesses have improved in general. Seen through a social media lens, where organizational honesty and consistency are vital, businesses still have work to do. Specifically, they must:

  • Be transparent in customer interactions.
  • Listen to employees.
  • Act responsibly.
  • Provide quality products and services.
  • Be responsive to customer needs.

2014 Edelman Trust Barometer-Company Perceptions-2

CEOs have a BIG customer trust issue

Senior business leaders have a problem. The public doesn’t trust them and it’s not a small matter. Even worse, their ratings have been flat over the last 2 years.

  • About 80% of CEOs do NOT make ethical or moral decisions.
  • About 80% of CEOs do NOT tell the truth.

2014 edelman trust barometer-Business Leaders 2013 vs 2014-2

While this is bad news, business executives can change these impressions. All they need to do is communicate openly, honestly and transparently. This requires support and coaching as well as input from your legal department to explain what they can and can’t say publicly.

2014 Edelman Trust Barometer - CEO Trust-1-2

Company spokespeople consumers trust

Fear not, you have the resources within your organization to increase your credibility with your target market. Of course, this requires honesty and transparency or you’ll be worse off.

Consumers trust academics and experts, technical gurus and ordinary people (think customers!)

Look across your organization for your thought leaders, technical whizzes and your customers. Encourage them to be part of your social media and content marketing efforts.

Edelman Trust Barometer 2014-People to Trust

How can your business increase its customer trustworthiness?

Leverage the power of experts and influencers. Depending on your business’s focus, encourage your experts and technical gurus to become thought leaders. Let them become the face of your business at both business and consumer events. Get your PR department to submit speaking requests and to help craft their presentations.

Create owned media. Involve your employees and customers in developing epic content. Make sure that you provide the appropriate editorial support they need to remove the fear of looking bad.

Distribute your marketing messages via social media and your owned media with care. Regularly share your content including curated information on social media and owned media. Also, have employees who are trained to engage on social media to interact with your audience in a transparent way. To this end, make sure that you have social media guidelines and a PR crisis plan.

Since CEOs and other C-suite executives are often in the spotlight where they can make or break your brand’s promise, you must work with them to build their credibility with your key audiences including customers, prospects, employees, your board, your investors, the press, and the government.

Building customer trust takes honesty and transparency. It’s not just what  you say on your own platforms but also what you say elsewhere.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Thanks for sharing these stats, Heidi! I think one of the most important things worth remembering is how much customers trust other customers that are more than likely strangers too!

    Brands need to be fostering fans and making every necessary effort to turn them onto loyal brand advocates.

  • Merlin Jones

    Ironic that you talk about trust but then wehn I click links of yours in #blogchat, they all come to your blog, whether they have anything to do with the #blogchat topic or not. That makes me not trust your links.

  • Merlin Jones

    Ironic that you talk about trust but then wehn I click links of yours in #blogchat, they all come to your blog, whether they have anything to do with the #blogchat topic or not. That makes me not trust your links.