In the wake of fake news, alternative facts and seemingly endless brand wars, it’s nearly impossible for consumers to know what they can and can’t believe in their daily media consumption. It all boils down to one question – who can you trust?
Surely politics cannot be solely to blame for the overall decline in consumer trust and confidence – can it? There are a couple other factors that should be examined before we point the finger.
Community or Lack Thereof
While politics continue to dismantle, reshape and in some cases, reinforce community, both domestically and abroad – overall, there has been a steady decline in the sense of community among the public in recent years. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans know less and less about their neighbors than ever before. When you think about the proliferation of social media and new technologies, coupled with a culture that recognizes digital personas and online interaction as much as real-life, it’s easy to understand how disconnected we really have become. Consequently, the advances that were intended to bring us closer together – have led to radical, largely negative, changes in social and societal norms – driving us further apart.
Adversity is often the bi-product of change – and while new technology and platforms can contribute to divisiveness and isolation – they are also our best tools for building a global community and affecting positive growth. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, acknowledged this in his latest manifesto, underscoring the need to leverage social networks to build communities that empower us to achieve things we couldn’t on our own. With support and trust from our peers, we can each do our part to create the change that is needed.
Wavering Loyalty & Increased Skepticism
The modern consumer is educated, informed, and constantly connected – 24/7 access to information has bred a new wave of “smart shoppers” that are skeptical, cynical and less loyal than ever before. The challenge for communicators is finding a way to resonate with an audience that is increasingly resistant to brand messaging.
Collin Holmes, CEO of Chatmeter stresses – “It’s getting harder and harder for brands to maintain and establish trust with consumers. Now that word of mouth has gone online, in the form of online reviews, trust and loyalty with the brand has gone way down, whereas 84% of consumers trust the reviews they read online. Therefore, it’s critical that marketing and brands capture great experiences and promote them online across their own site and other trusted review sites. There are many great software platforms out there today to help establish trust in the form of this new digital word of mouth.”
It’s imperative that brands listen to the digital conversation and respond in a way that is clear, accurate, and transparent.
So What Does This All Mean?
With April Fool’s Day right around the corner, we’ll very likely bear witness to both B2C and B2B brands trying to relate to consumers with gimmicky, ill-planned stunts – it’s time to take a stand. Communicators must reinforce their commitment to the truth. As representatives for a brand or organization, there is an implied responsibility to instill trust in your customers and communities. If you’re unwilling to address any potential trust issues head on, you risk damage to your brand now and in the long-term.