Trust is hard to come by these days

For years I have kept tabs on the Edelman Trust barometer report, which comes out every January in Davos.  And this year was no exception. After last year I figured this years report could make an excellent gauge of the economy worldwide!

Simply put the report states: Trust is down in every industry and every country across the board by an average of 6%. So what does this mean for marketers and for major brands in an era of social media?

Well 2 things …

Hidden in the data is the fact that CEOs and Government officials are at the very bottom of the totem pole when it comes to delivering a message that people trust. So welcome to the era where the average “Joe” employee is considered the most trustworthy corporate spokesperson. This is clearly a boon for the all of us who have been clamoring for our in house engineers to be out there blogging and tweeting with the public. Effectively they are now the only ones that the general public will trust to speak about your brand.

But to me that’s a quick fix on how you get information out of the company that the general public would believe. To really change the tide of this era of declining trust you need to consider what I’m calling “hyper-transparency.” For example look what Apple is going through with its overseas vendors. How can you company do the same or even take it to the next level. And be vigilant with those vendors that aren’t in compliance. You would need to say “here is where we are and are not compliant with our overseas vendors and here is what we are doing to fix it.” This would send a clear message that the corporate message can be trusted.

But where do you start?

There is obviously a clear need to understand what the general public perceives as your biggest issues and to have a feedback loop to measure your progress on these key issues. Which to me clearly underscores a need for trend analysis around your brand (think Google Trends for your Brand) to understand what to attack first to raise trust in your own company. This can’t be solved with typical social media software. You need to analyze trends of what’s being said across the issues that are important to your company. This doesn’t come from reading tweets everyday about your brand it comes from analytics of all forms of social media – blogs, microblogs, social networks and forums.

With the right technology and the right partner in place you can rebuild that trust that so few (if any) companies have these days.

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