Social Media: Trust No One or Everyone?

socialmediafriendsHow many Facebook friends do you have? How many Twitter followers do you have? When I think about my respective numbers: 804 and 334, do I trust each and every one of them? No. Do they all trust me? Probably, not. Social media makes it so easy for us to connect with people from all of the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are developing stronger relationships with these people.

In a traditional way of thinking, trust is something that is earned over time and through multiple personal interactions. On social media, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. A person can be following someone’s updates for awhile before ever actually engaging with that person. You could be earning someone’s trust and not even know it. For me, when it comes to Facebook or Twitter, I look to follow people who post valuable content in my opinion. That could mean a number of different things: something I find humorous, something I can relate to, something I can use on a school assignment, something I can share with a co-worker, etc. Nothing can earn trust more on social media than valuable content.

One of the great things about social media is you don’t actual have to know someone personally to gain their trust. In a 2012 study, 51% of Millennials (age 18-34) say they trust user-generated content and anonymous reviews over recommendations from friends or family. Word-of-mouth recommendations take on a whole new meaning on social media.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 10.49.20 PMSomeone specifically that I “trust” on social media is Kim Garst. Not only does Kim post interesting information concerning social media trends and platforms, she also posts motivational content and keeps her online presence very “human.” (see screenshots). While I’ve never met Kim in person (I hope I can someday), I trust her because I find her content helpful, valuable, motivational. If she endorsed a certain company, platform, or person I would trust her opinion because she has proven herself to me as a trustworthy resource on social media.

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Another thing to consider when discussing social media and trust is engagement. Social media is a two-way communication tool. If users engage with brands or individuals, we want a response — even if it’s just a “like” or a “retweet.” That small acknowledgement can go a long way with users.

I’m by no means a social media “guru” or “expert” but I feel like I’m laying the groundwork for when someday I could be a trusted resource for others. The benefit I think I bring from my trust is “retweets” and “shares” and mentions in my blog. While a whole lot of people may not be following me yet, I’m hoping to build on that credibility by mentioning other credible sources, and in turn their content is reaching a broader audience. Sharing each other’s content and engaging with one another is what social media is all about. The more we do those things the more trust we will be able to create.

How do you measure trust on social media? Is a “like” or a “retweet” enough for you or do you need a deeper level of engagement?

Has a brand or individual been able to regain your trust through social media after losing it?




6 thoughts on “Social Media: Trust No One or Everyone?

  1. Hi Laura! I do love it when a brand or person I love and trust on social media likes or retweets something I wrote. It’s a nice little nod that says “Hey! I see you there, and I’m glad you took the time to say that.” Which is awesome. But I don’t think it’s quite enough, at least for everyone. Very few brands can manage to individually respond to every comment or tweet sent in their direction — and if they did, I’m honestly not sure whether I’d be impressed or annoyed (because things would probably get repetitive). BUT, I do think it’s important for brands to selectively reply and further certain conversations to show that they are fully engaged. However much I appreciate a like or RT, I know it’s only a click of a button. And if that’s all a brand is doing, I’m not going to be very impressed with their engagement when looking at the bigger picture.

    • Thanks, Julie. I think if it makes sense to respond to a comment or question a brand should acknowledge it. If not, it doesn’t take much to “like” or “favorite” a piece of content. Any engagement between followers is better than nothing in my opinion.

  2. Hi Laura!

    I loved your point about how you don’t actually need to know someone personally to gain their trust through social media – this goes for both sides of the playing field too! As a consumer, I don’t need to know the brand or person I’m following personally to give them my trust. As a brand, I certainly do not need to know each of my followers or consumers personally to gain their trust either!

    It’s so true that a simple “retweet” from your favorite brand or celebrity can really make you feel special! My blog post this week is about Tenley Molzahn, a health and wellness coach that I’m a huge fan of. I made sure to tweet at her directly and use her preferred hashtag when I posted my blog link this week – I was SO excited when she tweeted me back and said that it meant the world to her! For the next hour I was constantly refreshing my feed looking at all the retweets and favorites her tweet about my blog was getting – cloud nine I tell ya!!

    • That’s awesome, Lacee!!! Social media makes it so easy for us to connect with people we might not otherwise be able to. This especially rewarding when engagement comes from some we admire. Congrats again!

  3. I think you made a great point about our interactions on social media and what those signals mean psychological. It’s true, whatever I like, share, or retweet is a direct endorsement by me. I must trust this person enough to share their content. Its also a sign to brands that we trust their content by tracking the interactions. Additionally, by tracking the negative engagement on posts brands can measure what’s not working.

    It makes sense that the Sponsored Stories on Facebook do so well. When we see our connections interacting with other content, it sparks our interest. It’s definitely smart for a brand to promote their content. As I mentioned before, we are giving these brands our endorsement. Maximizing that exposure can help a brand build a larger following. Of course this all starts with your fans. You need a loyal following before advertising content and trying to get others to follow your brand. This core group will trust you and evangelize your brand through social interactions.

    Great post!

    • Thanks, Sean! I do think like with anything on social media a brand or individual need to balance content. Whether it’s creating organic posts, sponsored stories, or engagements. It can be tough to understand at first, but after watching and listening to your audience you should be able to find the right balance.

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