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The trust factor in social media marketing

I don’t know how much I reference Seth Godin but I guess it’s for good reason. I like what he says about marketing, because he uses a ton of analogies and for me, thats a good thing. I need examples, real world or not, but I need colorful descriptive analogous ways for me to wrap my arms around complex ideas and simple ethereal notions.

With that being said, I was reading something over the weekend and was re-reading an old post by him in which he says the following:

 Worry about people with passion and people with lots of friends. You need both for ideas to spread.

I’ve been writing alot lately about social media experts and last week actually compiled a list of what social media is not and subsequently received a tremendous amount of answers, but essentially the underlying theme is this: if you were to couple the question of what social media is not with the experts that are the in the social media marketing space, what you and i are looking for is TRUST. Trust that what I’m hearing is legit. Trust that what I’m reading is applicable.  Trust that I can utilize social media to connect with my audience, my customers, and my users.  Trust that social media is not just a buzzword.  Trust that social media and it’s experts are not just caught up in the jetstream.

One of the other underlying themes of social media marketing, as a marketer, as someone dipping their toes in the proverbial waters of soaicl media, is how do you segment  what you are hearing, what you are reading and what who you are listening to?, How do you separate fact from fiction, How do you know? How do you know what you know,? How do you know they know? I know it sounds sort of like a comedy routine but…

I know that there are some companies out there that do it right but Im going to guess that for every company that does it right, there are 5 who say they can and never have, in their efforts to capitolize on the trend. But trust in any setting business or otherwise, determines the outcome of any engagement, it requires a tremndous leap of faith. Just like marriage. or any type of relationship for that matter.

So going forward, as you venture in, who do you trust/ and why should you trust them?  Does someone who has expert status warrant your trust?  It reminds me of the time where our company needed a Cisco engineer to come out and do some work for us. At the time, his rate might have been $150 an hour. The company said, they were sending out the very best they had, their heavy hitter… So we waited, and about an hour after he was supposed to show, in walks this guy- a bit disheveled, sunglasses on, mumbles that he’s from Cisco. He comes with nothing, no laptop, no pen, paper, nothing, knapsack. I repeate…nothing! Oh and he wreaks of alcohol… First impression? Not so good… But it gets better.

So the guy asks about 5 or 6 questions sits down at a terminal, works for under an hour, gets up and says,”You’re all set”, and leaves. WTF? Blink blink.. ala South Park. We’re screwed.

Bottom Line?  It was done perfectly. He was a heavy hitter, he did his thing and he did it well. Though outward impressions notwithstanding, this guy rocked the house.

The morals of the story are many.  Do you go with your gut, let them do their thing, and sit back and see what they produce? Perception is not always reality? Go with what people tell you and trust them?. Word of mouth, in this case was correct? Company hype was dead on? It’s ok to trust the disheveled engineer whos breath wreaks of alcohol? Cisco engineers rock?

Ok so you’re asking “So what are the parallels to social media marketing you ask?  Well, per Seths point, when deciding what to believe and not believe, in regards to social media you can go 2 ways. You can listen to the person who has a huge following and is passionate or you can listen to the person who talks the talk on their website but does not have much more than tha,t that can be substantiated.

Case in point, when reading about social media marketing on blog sites i would want to read someones blog who has been around no less than a year or longer and or someone who has a pretty solid base of followers and is passionate and or someone who might be on the agency side who ‘does” or “is” the social media marketing person at that agency and has chosen to blog about it.

Who would you trust?   Who would I trust?  That will be in part II

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5 Responses to “The trust factor in social media marketing”


  1. 1 Heidi Sullivan July 21, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I think you’ve hit on what most people struggle with in regards to social media: fear. Fear stems from a lack of trust and many find it difficult to just dive in – particularly for individuals representing a company, agency or product – and not just themselves.

  2. 2 emersondirect July 21, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    @Heidi the fear is all of the unknown, a lot of people just don’t know enough and thus as you say, they won’t dive in.

  3. 3 Andy Dunbar July 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    I think that the trust in social media is a lot like trust in friends, it is slow to build and at times hard to manage but worth all the time and money.

  4. 4 emersondirect July 21, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    @Andy, I’m not sure. I think it depends as well on what your expectations are. If you have high expectations of a friendship and they are betrayed in some fashion, then what?


  1. 1 Bookmarks about Godin Trackback on December 15, 2008 at 8:30 pm
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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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