Trust and Reputation – the new currency?

The Cluetrain Manifesto said markets are conversations.  They predicted that we were headed for an online version of the ancient marketplace where people would meet, share information and compare experiences with vendors and products.  We’re certainly seeing that trend develop online with recommendations and reviews playing a rapidly growing role in influencing purchase decisions.

In 2006 the Edelman Global Trust Barometer reported that for the first time a “person just like me’ was the number one trusted influencer. Over the last six years peer influence waned somewhat, but it has made a dramatic comeback this year with a 22% increase winning a spot in the top 3.

trust barometer peer influence

Another interesting finding of the 2012 report is that the media is the only institution that saw a slight rise in trust and the majority of that rise is in social media.

Peer-to-peer sharing “involves the re-emergence of community,” says Rachel Botsman, co-author of What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption in a Time article. “This works because people can trust each other.”

So if social media is the place where people go to find trusted sources of information, which of the myriad social sites should you pay attention to?  According to BlogHer, one of the largest communities of women online,  blogs top that list for BlogHer members (who are mostly women).  Facebook ranks #2 for the BlogHer sample with Twitter and Pinterest right behind.  The general US sample rates the platforms differently – blogs still come in at #1 but Pinterest beats out Twitter and Facebook.

The Barometer shows that as a whole people around the world have become a lot more skeptical.  Most people need to hear something 3 -5 times to believe it.  And those 3 – 5 times better be from trusted sources of information.In order to gain their business you have to build trust.  Reputation is the result of how you look, what you say and most of all what you do.  You have to be seen to be doing the right thing. And people they trust have to endorse that.

What does all this mean for your PR and marketing strategy?

  1. Have a position that will resonate with your audience and be true to that position.
  2. Know who is in your social graph and where they go to get trusted information.
  3. Identify your brand evangelists and nurture them. Build a strong community of supporters who will recommend you.
  4. Invest in a blogger outreach campaign targeting the right bloggers for your audience.
  5. Provide them with content that will spark positive conversation and sharing.
  6. Diversify your media relations activities – expand your media lists.
  7. Build relationships with traditional, online and social media influencers that reach your market, so that you get earned media mentions in all areas.
  8. Understand what the media wants today and provide your news and content in the format they can easily access, use and publish.
  9. Look for content partnerships with media of all types.
  10. Use recommendation services to get your content into the media. Outbrain, Mulu are two options that come to mind.

Posted by Sally Falkow

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