How do you use social media to gain consumer trust?

I’m invited to a panel discussion around how to build consumer trust using social media at the ICE Totally Gaming conference at Excel London in two weeks time.

My summarised take on the subject is that social media can only work as a catalyst, or as an enabling medium. No social media initiative can replace good business practices that creates consumer trust.

To better understand this I’ve looked at the 2013 Edelman Trustbarometer which reveals who and what consumers put their faith in. The data comes as no surprise to me, but should be a wake up call for many of today’s business leaders.

Less than one fifth of the general public believes business leaders and government officials will tell the truth when confronted with a difficult issue. 

The informed public; smarter and more informed consumers

There’s undoubtedly a global leadership problem in the world today, both within businesses and governments. Why is it that less than one fifth of the general public believes business leaders and government officials will tell the truth when confronted with a difficult issue?

The driving force behind the increased distrust from consumers is the increase of relevant information they have access to. Always connected, networked and more informed consumers making up the new informed public are no longer believing in lies from business leaders.

Edelman Trustbarometer Informed Public

Trust in CEOs has plummet during the last 10 years

A look back on earlier Edelman Trustbarometer reports shows how our trust in CEO’s starting falling already 10 years ago and a person like me has been on the rise since 2006.

This change in trust is definitely a result of a new informed public that have access to more information sources than just corporate communication. Online communities, social networks, forums and Internet connected mobiles devices has played an integral role in facilitating for the rise of the informed public.

Clearly, this is the result of the inescapable digital transformation.

Edelman trustbarometer in retroperspective

The informed public put their trust in company experts and a person like themself

Although CEOs somewhat regained the informed publics trust in 2010 this has again dropped during 2012. An academic or expert on company issues has had a steady level of trust during the last 5 years, but it is a person like yourself that has increased their level of trust the most, and remains the second most trusted persona by the informed public.

Edelman trustbarometer

What builds consumer trust today?

Edelman have identified 16 rock solid attributes which builds consumers’ trust. A business strategy built on these 16 attributes will greatly benefit from social operational tactics.

Here’s a few examples:

  • Listen to your consumers needs and feedback can be enhanced with social media monitoring tools installed within an organisations customer service, CRM, sales and product department.
  • Employees trained in social media communications together with a strong social media content strategy can help organisations better communicate frequently and honestly on the state its business
  • Employees can better address consumers issues by knowing their online personas
  • Brands can build better and smarter products by leveraging on the collective knowledge on its online community using crowd sourced feedback sites as well as monitor online conversations of, its and competitors, brands.
  • Better involve its customers and prospects in environment and society purposes using its online social media personas
  • Using social and collaborative technologies to enhance its operations and productivity (See what we’re building at Unified Inbox).

16 steps for gaining trust in social media

Who’s respected and trusted by the public to do what?

To me this is gold dust, the is by far the most interesting part of the 2013 Edelman Trustbarometer report. The influence mapping reveals who is best suited to do what in order to increase trust.

  • Passionate consumers together with the company’s employees are best suited to communicate around Engagement attributes.
  • Company’s employees are also best suited to communicate and tell the honest story on a company’s situation… Think
  • The CEO together with its employees are the most trusted people to communicate around product development.
  • Passionate customers provide the most trusted judgement on a company’s social and environmental initiatives.
  • The CEO remains the trusted figure had to talk about the companies operations and financials.

Influence mapping edelman trustbarometer

How I can help you

The above key take aways should be the foundation of how your company chose to communicate in social media channels. I provide Social CRM services that both look at the strategic side of your business as well as the tactical solutions. Read more about how we could work together here.


About Joakim Nilsson

I've this thing that I'm obsessed with helping brands and organisations to make better use of their social media data... so in 2013 I launched the SCRM Cloud, now a Paris based Social CRM agency providing some of the biggest names and brands with technology and professional services for social media monitoring, analytics and engagement. My +10 years experience in various online marketing & communications roles have provided me with a solid grounding in both operations and strategy, most notably as Head of social for one of Europe's largest iGaming groups. Having an entrepreneurial mindset and genuine passion for Internet applications spending part of my time as a small seed investor with various Internet start-ups such as; Curious Hat (500startups), Casumo, Casino Saga, FundedByMe, Nordic Design Collective, Kyoogi, AvalanShare, Unified Inbox, Åre Water, Virtuous Vodka and NOA Potions.