A recent report from mega-PR firm Edelman has recently been published showing, through surveys, consumers are now less trusting of brands on social media. For consumers who reside in the United States, only 30% of those consumers say they trust the content that companies push through social media. This is 11% lower than the total survey which included nine countries including the United Kingdom and Canada—41% of the total surveyed said they trust content.
Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman explains the reasoning for the distrust in social content, “People have now processed the epidemic of fake news and the Cambridge Analytica story.”
However, this issue of fake news and cybersecurity is zeroing in on the social media platforms that have become a place where consumers find their news—Facebook and Twitter. Other platforms like Instagram and Pinterest seem to still hold higher trust than the latter two due to their nature of being lifestyle sharing versus news sharing.
For many small businesses and startups, social media is a critical low-cost tool to their brand awareness strategy. Don’t pull up your business’ Facebook page and delete it quite yet, though. There are ways to still engage with consumers and make sure they are trusting of your brand. In order to keep consumers coming back to your social media accounts, you need to build trust and maintain that trust. To build trust and maintain trust, a brand must be consistent, be honest and be genuine. It is no secret that the more your social media platforms push sales and not engagement, the least trust your social platforms have among consumers.
Another important note is social media should not be your primary tool for consumer engagement, information sharing or sales method for your brand. If the Edelman survey and report is any indication of the future of social media, now has never been a better time to realign your marketing strategy or public relations strategy to position social media as a secondary or complementary tool rather than a primary tool and driver.
According to Edelman, four in ten social media users have deleted a social media account in the past year. While this statistic is not indicative of whether it is the platform you are using to reach your consumers, it is indicative of the current state of social media as a means for commerce and business communication.
While this information is shocking to some marketers and public relations professionals, it should come as no surprise. The boom in influencer marketing through non-celebrities over the last five to seven years arose due to the social media influence they have over consumers that brands did not have. Quite literally, influencer marketing arose due to the lack of trust in brands on social media.
Additionally, the focus on the content is king mindset of the last ten years has potentially damaged the information sharing process of businesses. The content is king mindset has made marketers and PR practitioners push content nonstop to websites, blogs and social media platforms as a means of search engine optimization. This flood of content in the fake news era is only going to hurt a brand. The focus should move from content is king to content is valuable.
With such little trust in branded social media accounts, there is no doubt that brands have to reevaluate their tactics and strategies moving forward in 2018 and beyond. To make it through the fake news era is the goal, but the goal will prove harder for some brands than others. Keep your social media accounts consistent, honest and genuine and your brand will make it.