Trust is a currency that will only increase in value

How can brands build trust?

Who to trust is becoming an increasingly sensitive public issue. As consumers face content overload from more sources than ever before, it is quickly becoming near impossible to verify the authenticity of digital content. Brands must be on guard to ensure their own authenticity, avoid untrustworthy channels and protect trust earned.

Mark Zuckerberg’s latest initiative to limit media and brand news on Facebook has the advertising world chattering, some asserting that the move is going to make it more expensive and less productive for brands to advertise on Facebook. However, there’s a bigger picture: digital news content has become more and more problematic, both in terms of how to make sense of its growing volumes and what content to trust. As content creation has become democratised, brand content has proliferated and fake news is now able to threaten the reputations of brands, governments, political parties and public figures. People just don’t, and, some would argue, can’t trust digital content; and digital news in particular.

According to global communications firm Edelman’s new Trust Barometer 2018 (announced today), 70 percent of respondents surveyed worry about fake news or false information, while 59 percent said that it is getting harder to tell if a piece of news was produced by a respected media organisation.

The rise of social media over the past ten years provoked somewhat of a backlash against mainstream media, as citizen journalists, activists and other sources were able to challenge traditional media news stories in real-time. News media have suffered and, on the whole, surveys of audiences in the UK and USA confirm that the majority don’t trust the news organisations. By the way, Edelman’s Trust Barometer found that audiences in China, Indonesia, India and the UAE were a lot more trusting of news media, while news media engendered the least trust in Russia.

Increasingly, Internet users are losing faith in social media as a disseminator of news. In a survey last year, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that only 24 percent of people in the US thought social media did a good job separating fact from fiction, a fraction of the, already poor, score of 40 percent for mainstream media. The new Edelman survey has found the same is largely true for the UK. The fake news scandals of the past year have only served to further polarise public opinion on news sources and discourage trust in news overall.

In the light of global research and advisory firm Gartner’s recent prediction that artificial intelligence’s ability to create fake content will outpace AI’s ability to detect it by 2020, there’s no reason to believe that public trust in news served up by social media platforms will ever return. In fact, there are already signs that public faith in news media is being restored, or, at least, in the journalists that report the news for those media organisations. Either way the ability of Facebook, Google and other Internet platforms to reliably distinguish between authentic content and content created to deceive is strictly limited.

Today’s marketing and media audiences are going to be increasingly concerned about who to believe, what sources to trust and what content they choose to consume (news, opinion, brand content, Youtuber’s videos or otherwise). Trust is a currency that will only continue to increase in value. If you want your brand to be trusted, more than ever, this requires thorough scrutiny of your brand’s actions, business practices, communications and the channels that it uses to reach consumers. And, for all its benefits, the risk social media poses to brand reputation is going to continue to increase. Facebook’s changes to its newsfeed may turn out to be the best way forwards for its advertisers too.

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Carrington Malin

About the Author ()

Carrington Malin is co-founder of Spot On and has been managing sales, marketing, media and communications campaigns across the Middle East for more than 20 years. He likes technology, surfing and chicken liver salad. You can contact Carrington via Twitter at @carringtonmalin or via his website

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