Trust in New Media (image by notsogoodphotography)

Does your marketing strategy bring you closer with your prospect or current customer? Does it create a bond of trust with them?

Does your digital communications bring your target market closer to trusting you or your company? A check for trust might just be the one check you do in your digital communications.

I was at a meeting the other day and the speaker asked everybody to look around the room and put a number 1 thru 5 above the head of people in the room based on how much you trust them. 1 being you barely trust them and 5 being you would trust them with the keys to your house and your kids while on vacation.

Then he flipped it around and told everybody to look around the room and place these same numbers based on how much this person trusts you.

It was a mind changing insight.

You Do Business with Those You Trust

His point was that you do business and you refer business to people you trust. One of your goals in meeting people and interacting is to create a feeling of trust between you and the people you meet. Yes networking 101 but is this relevant in new media marketing?

This exercise works great in person. You can look at the person, imagine how much time you’ve spent, your shared experiences, etc. and come to a trust conclusion. What got me thinking was whether or not we could take this same concept to the digital realm?

Can you look at your audience from Facebook to email and can you create a metric that would track trust? Before I answered that I asked myself if this was something that was relevant to someone looking to market in digital media… and I concluded it is. This also plays a role in to the post I made yesterday with Priming in Social Media.

What is Trust?

First I really wanted to understand if trust was the right word I was looking for. So I did what anybody would do–I searched. Here are the top four definitions I think are relevant:

  • reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
  • confident expectation of something; hope.
  • confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit: to sell merchandise on trust.
  • a person on whom or thing on which one relies

Let’s Get This Out of the Way

One important element worth mentioning is that your overall communications and strategy in digital marketing should reinforce trust. Trust in you, your team, your brand, and your products. What we are really are talking about is the backbone of permission marketing.

For example, you form trust in email marketing by delivering a newsletter as scheduled and making it relevant to what you promised. This trust is created by value and consistency.

So one important element here is that you think strategically and tactically about your communications and see ways you can create bonds of trust.

Can We Measure Trust?

I’ve done the research and the answer is no. The best overview I have found to why is from Wikipedia on the Trust Metric:

There is no generally agreed set of properties that make a particular metric better than others, as each metric is designed to serve different purposes, e.g. [3] provides certain classification scheme for trust metrics. Two groups of trust metrics can be identified:

Empirical metrics focusing on supporting the capture of values of trust in a reliable and standardized way

Formal metrics that focus on formalization leading to the ease of manipulation, processing and reasoning about trust; formal metrics can be further classified depending on their properties.

The bottom line is trust is subjective.

Thinking in Trust

Even though trust cannot be measured I believe it is an element that you should include in your communication plan. In this post I really don’t have any answers but here are some questions I think that might be important to consider:

  • How that picture or graphic you release enhancing your trust within your audience.
  • Can you create a video or add an element to a video that will increase trust in your or your company? What actions can you do within a social platform that enhances trust?
  • How does the stream of conversations or updates within your wall or profile enhance trust?
  • The big question… what things, if any are you currently doing that could be eroding trust?