“Just Trust Me!” Building Trust on Social Media is a Science


Social media has enabled us to talk with each other very easily and often. But has it really helped us develop meaningful relationships? Not always. Yes, we may be “connected” to more people on a daily basis, but can we trust those people (or brands)? Who is on the other end of the keyboard? Is anyone really listening?

Trust is something that can be hard to earn, especially online. Brands and individuals struggle with gaining the trust of their followers, but it can be done. This week, we learned about Steve Rayson’s Trust Formula:

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 9.43.15 PMA stands for Authority

H stands for Helpfulness

I stands for Intimacy

SP stands for Self Promotion

In addition, we added R for Reliability to the numerator. But when thinking about earning followers’ trust. Are there more components that should be added to this equation? I believe so.

I think a C should be added to the equation for Creativity. What do I mean by this? Well, digital communication should be creative by nature, yet not all brands are taking creativity into account. Not only do brands need to be helpful, responsive, and reliable, they should also bring a unique value to their content. For instance, if a brand gets several customers/fans tweeting to them about an issue or problem, yes a tweet responding right away is great, but maybe brands could take it a step further. Maybe snap a picture saying ‘We are working on [insert problem]. Thank you!” or shoot a short video from a company executive saying the issue is being addressed. Then when there is a resolution, another video could be posted with that messaging. These images/videos could then be repurposed on other social networks to highlight the resolution. Even if your company doesn’t think it’s smart to bring attention to a negative situation, making good on that situation, in a creative way can help you regain trust from those specific followers or gain the respect of others who see are watching your brand.

Another addition to the equation: V for Values. Reputation and trust are built over time. I think many companies need to align their social media strategy and tactics with the overall company values. At my company, Carilion Clinic, we have five values we are charged with honoring: Commitment, Courage, CommUNITY, Compassion, Curiosity. As a healthcare organization, every employee is charged with not only showing these values to our patients, but also our colleagues and our community. On social media, we implement these values with every interaction and engagement. We not only practice them, but we highlight our employees who showcase these values on social media, such as in this video:

I believe adding creativity and values to your formula for building trust on social media is key to finding success with your followers. For myself, I only engage with brands that engage back. Social media is a two-way communication tool and brands who don’t use it that way will fail with building trust amongst followers.


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