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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

2011 Trust Barometer demands brand balls

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Trust creates influence. Trust determines who we listen to. Trust is precious social currency, so brands  are, quite rightly, crazy for it.

And Edelman’s 2011 Trust Barometer – an annual  survey that gauges attitudes about the state of trust in business, government, NGOs and media across 23 countries – presents a pretty strong call to action to them all.

The good news is, globally our trust in  institutions has increased, and that trust is helping to protect the reputations of the companies that cultivate it. The interesting news is, we’re increasingly questioning our peers’ opinion about companies, and starting to value experts, industry specialists and employees.

edelman1

Well, interesting to me. For a while, I’ve had a pet gripe about brands who try to be our friends, thinking that social success requires them to become sycophantic chameleons pandering to our every whim.

I’d much rather brands be brilliant brands. Yes, I unequivocally expect them to listen and engage and react and inspire  - but I also want to them to be strong, opinionated and aspirational, too.

Which is why I’m pleased with the Edelman findings. Of course, brands’ confidence should come from a knowledge that they are constantly listening, adapting and collaborating with their customers – but we do want to feel that the people we buy stuff from are better at it than we are – be that designing phones, baking cakes or creating our laws.

Tim Malbon of Made by Many recently posted a nice piece on how the rage for customisation and participation is wearing rather thin. This is not because the principle is at fault, but because the space is glutted with attempts to replace truly valuable engagement with one-size-fits-all gimmicks. No wonder we are looking for some authoritative and authentic brand output that doesn’t require us to design our own breakfast cereal.

For example, I found Gap’s quick back-down (and consequent crowdsourcing solution) in the face of social uproar about their rebranding a bit sad. Didn’t they feel strongly about the design? Hadn’t they paid Laird & Partners loads of money for a reason? Couldn’t they have generated something a bit more gutsy and productive – a Team Aniston / Team Jolie-style social rumble for fans of the old vs new logo, say – rather than quivering before the consumer and running away?

Richard Edelman’s assertion that “the right approach is for CEOs to be private sector diplomats” may be a little rigid. As part of my work heading up 1000heads’ social business consultancy, helping our clients to become conversational inside out from their processes and sharing tools to their culture and skills, I find that the best company spokespeople are often not the top management but the folk on the ground, who are truly passionate about what they do and embedded in it every day.

However, the principle is a good one. People will trust you if you are listening and engaging. But they also need you to have vocal belief in who you are, what you do, and why.

Social should be empowering, not emasculating.

Relationship Marketing

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

There’s a great piece that’s been percolating around the Enterprise/Social space right now, based around ‘Why Every Company Needs a Robert Scoble‘ -

With free sexy infographic!

Written by Mark Fidelman, Social Business Strategist over on SeekOmega, he talks about brand evangelists and how awesome they are at -

‘…creating exceptional buzz around their brands that was once the domain of the world’s largest media powerhouses’.

He’s not wrong.

But, like everything else in the fast-moving world of digital and social, this too shall pass. Scoble is a purple cow in this area, a unique being amongst others who’s clout klout alone can help make or break a business. At least, you’d hope so. One only has to look at his immense activity on new web darling ‘Quora‘ to see the kind of dedication he puts into something he likes. One would imagine that he also quite likes his employer, Rackspace.

And it’s here that we find the rub.

This morning things got even more interesting when renowned analyst and commenter Dennis Howlett weighed in with his well thought out analysis over on ZDNet. CFO and investor commentary aside, Dennis’ experience in this area is second to none and he provides some excellent counter-points to Fidelman’s post.

However, when talking about Rackspace and their rather fantastic reputation in the Enterprise space, this quote in particular stood out for me:

“Whenever I have discussions with customers about their IT landscape and data center thoughts, Rackspace’s name is never very far from the conversation. Why? The company has established a solid reputation that customers are happy to talk about. As we have all known in this industry for a very long time, relationships drive enterprise sales harder than anything else. Get customers talking to one another and you’re off to the races. Tick them off and you are in deep trouble.”

I’ve bolded the bit I’m really focusing on here. Howlett has been writing about enterprise software for the best part of 20 years and provides some great extra analysis on top of Mark’s initial conjectural piece around the value of a true, brand evangelist. Seriously, go read it.

The point he makes above is neither new thinking or any kind of rocket science, but what it is is exactly what we, as word of mouth practitioners believe in through and through; if you have a kick-ass service and can deliver on your promises – then get your customers talking. It’s that simple.

The brand evangelist can help facilitate those conversations but, as Dennis quite rightly points out, that is only one piece of a much larger marketing pie*.

Scoble himself is naturally self-depreciating (and completely on point) -

Shouting about a product is easy. Creating meaningful relationships over a sustained period of time which consistently deliver against fundamental key business critical metrics? Well, that’s something else entirely.

Relationships. Matter.

It’s that simple.


The tug of war between trust and discovery

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

What is ‘a trusted source of information’ for you nowadays? If you’re in the majority, it’s a close friend or family member – someone in your social network who you can rely on to filter facts through an intelligent viewpoint and root out the interesting and relevant stuff. That’s the principle behind Google’s Social Search, launched this week.

The idea is that Google scrape the WOM from your contacts on the likes of FriendFeed and Twitter – any account you’re willing to add to your Google profile – to get their take on whatever you’re looking for. It’s a big step in the right direction for those of us who use our relationships with others as our chief filter in the great untamed wilderness of social media; many of us have been using Twitter to do that for a while.

However, there’s still a big search gap to be bridged between ‘high page-ranking official blurb’ and ‘stuff my friends happen to be nattering about’. As Matt Morrison, Global Head of Digital for Porter Novelli, aka @mediaczar, discussed in this morning’s presentation about Social Network Analysis for WOM UK, homophily (‘love of the same’) tends to mean that we gather likeminded folk around us, but also become more like them as we spend time interacting. It’s one of the chief social glues, but it also means we can get trapped in closed and self-reinforcing microcosms.

The truth is that search will never be the only, or even the best, route to discovery. Many of my passions – theatre, literature, Hitchcock films, gin – are only shared by few of my close friends, and the real discoveries I make in social media happen when I leap a couple of connections to find new global voices discussing these things. So often the best way to really find out about what you love is to socialise, not search – mine existing networks for interesting new members, click through the blogrolls of your favourite writers – the equivalent of bumping into people at a party in a place you love.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m having great fun playing with Social Search today and discovering just how much my mates like talking about over-the-knee suede boots – although it’s still very restricted on the ‘friends’ it can identify. But it’s also reminded me that word of mouth impacts on my life in incredibly disparate, random and amorphous ways, beyond the visible island of my ‘inner circle’ of trusted influencers.

You just can't manufacture trust

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2009 has shown us that trust is one of the biggest issues facing brands across the world. With trust in American brands down 77%, and the UK, France and Germany clinging onto an abysmal 36%, only emerging economies such as China and Brazil are seeing an improvement on last year. And the bottom line is that lack of trust costs big bucks; 91% of the 25 – 64 year olds polled say they buy from a company they trust and 77% refuse to buy from one they distrust.

It makes it even more amazing that companies are still trying to squeeze essentially untrustworthy marketing into social media in the hope of gaining a foothold. The US are particularly prone - John McCain’s attempt to recreate some Obama word of mouth magic, by offering ‘incentives’ to those who participate, has been dubbed astroturfing, the opposite of inspiring genuine grassroots support.

What makes you trust another person? Honesty and consistency, over time. There is no short cut to trust; it has to be earned by proving that you are committed to listening to people, engaging with them on a long-term basis, and actually responding to their needs and preferences. As the Edelman study shows, it ain’t just about cultivating the warm and fuzzies, but surviving economically as a brand.

You just can’t manufacture trust

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2009 has shown us that trust is one of the biggest issues facing brands across the world. With trust in American brands down 77%, and the UK, France and Germany clinging onto an abysmal 36%, only emerging economies such as China and Brazil are seeing an improvement on last year. And the bottom line is that lack of trust costs big bucks; 91% of the 25 – 64 year olds polled say they buy from a company they trust and 77% refuse to buy from one they distrust.

It makes it even more amazing that companies are still trying to squeeze essentially untrustworthy marketing into social media in the hope of gaining a foothold. The US are particularly prone - John McCain’s attempt to recreate some Obama word of mouth magic, by offering ‘incentives’ to those who participate, has been dubbed astroturfing, the opposite of inspiring genuine grassroots support.

What makes you trust another person? Honesty and consistency, over time. There is no short cut to trust; it has to be earned by proving that you are committed to listening to people, engaging with them on a long-term basis, and actually responding to their needs and preferences. As the Edelman study shows, it ain’t just about cultivating the warm and fuzzies, but surviving economically as a brand.