Trust is the New Currency – The True Impact of Social Media (Pivot and Profit Podcast)


Do people TRUST your business?

In the old days, like 5 years ago, trust wasn’t such a big issue, because there was a distance between you and the audience.  That distance is gone, which is why trust is becoming the new currency.

When someone looks at your profile on social media today, they evaluate your Twitter updates, your marketing messages, your Facebook profile, your Google profile, and they search for you.

Everything is connected, which is also why trust is the new currency. In social media, you don’t sell on first contact (see my article on Brevenue and Social Media Lead Generation for practical examples), your goal is to earn trust so that the person will share it with their friends.

Social media is driven by referral and demand you create, built on trust:

Take a look at Facebook today and you still see people just using social media to spam, to pitch, and it stands out like a sore thumb. Folks today are much less tolerant of pitching your wares on every community site, especially when they are looking for friendship, not conversion.

And these folks are very experienced at the pitch, trained by TV and Internet spam and search spam and social media spam.  The first thing most people think when they see a new message is, “What kind of spam is this?”

Because strangers don’t just show up and pitch you in the real world, do they? Social media, among many other impacts, is making it harder to pitch the old way. Notice how headlines have changed from high promise to exploring, and game playing?

Trust is affecting how we communicate, how we introduce our business to others, and how we are seen, long term, by the growing audience. You can no longer hide in old media that gets lost, because new media always leaves bread crumbs, trails to your previous actions.

  • Now you have to treat people like you do in the real world, with respect and engaging them in order to earn their respect. Because this is the real world and with mobile devices/iPads/Tablets starting to dominate, the people using social media are not locked in front of computers.

They are checking in, live and with little time. Your hype and hot air doesn’t go far in this world, because it’s odd. You need to engage and introduce yourself, earning the person’s trust, before a message goes anywhere.

Which is why most marketers see social and mobile media as “visionary”, because it doesn’t follow the old methods of marketing. Remember old media magazine ads, TV, and even the old Internet web site were something people watched and read, they didn’t really interact except for discussion boards.

Now the audience is in control, talking and being social, and driving marketers wild because these people are not in search of solutions to their problem, they are just trying to have fun, learn, and connect.

I hope this weeks Pivot and Profit podcast strikes a chord with you, because here’s the real secret; being good and genuine to people is in, messing with their heads and manipulating is starting to look like the cheesy part of the 20th century.

Stepping into Trust:

My Jerry Maguire Moment

Declan Dunn keynote speech at Affiliate Summit 2005
The blurry word on the screen is “Integrity”, I’m to the left waking up the audience, who are in Las Vegas and of course, also blurry eyed…

I remember the moment so clearly, on stage in Las Vegas keynoting Affiliate Summit 2005 and the quiet room staring at me when I introduced “The Internet With Integrity”.

As I walked from the stage, the many friends in the audience who normally would come up to me and shake my hand, just stared. It was my “Jerry Maguire” moment, speaking a truth I thought people would get because the obvious rise of social media was underway, and the years of secrets and anonymity, and messing with customers, was coming to an end.

The silence was deafening and not common for me, yet the message I shared shook people up. A close friend and very successful marketer came up to me later and said,

” I liked your speech, but it wasn’t directed to me. I don’t have integrity.”

Understand that he was proud of not having integrity (definitely too lofty a word choice in retrospect), and that thinking this way could diminish sales. It’s very common in direct marketing minds, and let’s face it, Internet advertising is still dominated by direct response marketing.

This direct marketing mindset – focused only on clicks and conversions – has value, and it also is creating a cognitive bias on the part of businesses who only look at the world through direct marketing glasses.

A brand marketer knows that you must create awareness, generate familiarity, and then promote consideration of the product; this is the first step in a new 2 step marketing system that is developing, but people keep trying to separate the worlds.

Branding leads to direct marketing, via social and mobile media. Trust is the bridge, get them to trust you, and they will purchase. Try to sell the immediately and they won’t trust you.

It’s time we stopped separating these marketing worlds. Brand marketers think it’s only about generating awareness, while direct marketers believe every action has to generate ROI.

You’re both right! Consider this; 10 years ago scientists would never have engaged in talking about things they can’t explain, yet physics is pointing out so many different understandings of our universe, that scientists are meeting with spiritual leaders now and comparing notes.

Right now, brand marketers should be learning from direct marketers, and vice versa. Because in the eyes of the customer, branding and direct marketing are not separate worlds – it’s their world, they are in control, and you have to earn their trust.

Lesson #1: Trust is the new currency.  What do you think?