If it seems like everyone has grown more cynical or marketers lately, it’s because it’s true. According to a recent Neilsen report, only 40% of consumers trust marketing content. Yes, I agree, it’s pretty discouraging. However for all you marketers out there, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. While today’s consumers may have lost their overall trust in marketing messages, 90% of them trust content from their social networks. This means that it’s time for marketers to seize the moment, and utilize social media to try and help reestablish some of that lost trust.
“It starts with acknowledging that we have a problem,” says Doug Klein, an Associate Partner at Rosetta, in a recent post. Most marketers have the view that social media is just another channel for marketers to utilize in spreading their content. “We need to instead think of it [social media] as the influencer of all channels,” points out Klein. He’s right. Part of the power of social media is that “referral from a friend”. We may no longer trust marketing messages, but we all still trust our friends. With social tools, businesses are able to tap into that collective voice and listen to what people are saying about their products and those of their competitors. By actively listening, it gives them unique insights to help marketers write more compelling content for their audience. Today’s companies are then able to capture the most talked about areas of interest and use them to help shape not only the content on their websites and customer support forums, but also to include them as features – something that Marketo has successfully mastered by introducing over sixty features suggested by their online community.
Due to the digital ADD that we’ve all developed over the past several years, more and more organizations are finding themselves searching for that one-on-one conversation. “As a result, tradeshows you attend today have become meccas of new social media participation that remind us of that simpler, more participatory age,” says Klein. For example, IBM’s October Information on Demand event created a template for how real connections can be made with attendees through “social concierges” equipped with digital devices connecting with attendees encouraging and populating social content that made the event feel more personal. So how can businesses reconnect and reestablish those one-on-one conversations and ultimately rebuild that trust with their audience.
“The best way to do this is illustrated by brands that return to their roots and remember who they’re in business to serve,” says Klein. To better illustrate what he means here, let’s look at three companies that really understand what it means to speak the language of their customers. GetBackToScratch.com is a micro-support community run by a food service equipment manufacture. They honor the artistry and passion of cooks making food like mom and grandma did – from scratch. Cisco is another great example. They do a good job connecting the heritage of the importance of networking to larger societal issues through its blog, Connected Life Exchange. Lastly Intel; Intel has done an excellent job connecting with individuals utilizing Facebook and with their recent slogan: “What makes your computer special is what it makes possible – Go Do Something Wonderful.”
The moral here is that there’s a huge opportunity to fail in social if we continue to treat it like just another channel to push marketing content through. Social requires us to get away from being promotional and sensational and instead treat customers with special attention. It’s about including their thoughts in the offerings we make, to being truly interested in what they have to say in the real work, to communicating about the things they care about – with a vocabulary that illustrates they can trust us.