How to Build Trust on Social Media in 2024

9 minute read

How many of your employees are already on social?

I recently joined our partner Khoros for a webinar on the importance of brands rebuilding with trust on social media in 2024.

Sandrine Zechbauer, Khoros’ senior director of global demand generation, and I had an interesting chat about the need for companies to do this and the key ways to accomplish this.

Check out some of the highlights in the transcript below.

Sandrine Zechbauer (Khoros): It’s clear that the increasing distrust in social media is the underlying cause of the social media chaos of 2023 — whether it is a lack of trust in the networks themselves, a lack of trust in the new technologies that have emerged, or a lack of trust in the people, such as paid influencers and ambassadors.

The social media world is in a crisis of trust, which is somehow ironic because that’s what the networks were built on to start off with because you trust your friends, your family, your colleagues, and your network.

Cameron, as part of your role as CEO of EveryoneSocial, you spend a lot of time talking to CMOs. Does this observation align with they are telling you?

Cameron Brain (EveryoneSocial): There’s always some questions and concerns about networks, but the fact is that social media continues to grow. It’s the predominant channel. I just saw a stat that more than 50% of people under the age of 42 post about their company on social media at least once a week.

SZ: Even though users don’t necessarily trust these networks, they still don’t give them up either. Social media is still seen as a vital source for news, for example. How can we explain that?

CB: I mean it’s the only medium by which we can connect with other people — anyone — around the globe. Think about it; it’s literally the first time that’s been possible in all of history.

Fundamentally, people want to connect with people more than they do with brands. The whole brand affinity thing was an outgrowth of media over the 20th century.

SZ: You work with the networks and brands a lot. Do you know what users do trust today?

CB: Edelman has some great research out on this. Firstly, people trust people. They trust their co-workers, the people they work with. In fact Edelman has consistently found that people trust businesses far more than they trust any other group, such as governments or NGOs.

The Internet is what, 30 years old at this point? So we’ve all been online for at least a decade or two, and I think we’ve generally honed our bullshit meter. We have interests, we have things we need to do, stuff we’re looking for, and we want trusted, authentic information.

To kind of turn your question around, what we see people looking for is trust. They’re looking for people and content that passes their BS test.

SZ: What should the social media networks prioritize if they want to make up for lost ground in 2024?

CB: Do I need to say anything about X? I think we’re all on the same page there. Elon may have some master plan, but it sure looks like he’s made a lot of unforced errors, stuff that didn’t need to be done over the last year.

I think openness and transparency on social are good. Again, it all goes back to trust. How does the algorithm work? Make that open source. Open up your APIs more. Give more data to the companies and people on the networks.

I think there’s some movement in this area, but, like most things, I think it’s going to take some disruption to really see big change.

The networks are the way they are because of their business models, the majority of which are build on ads, and that’s not something they’re going to be able to pivot off very easily.

SZ: What strategy do you recommend to marketers trying to cut through the noise in 2024, with reduced budgets and increased pressure on ROI?

CB: Every single company on this call has somewhere between 80-90% of its employees already on social. They’re on LinkedIn, X, and other networks sharing content and engaging. The biggest opportunity brands have to cut through the noise is to activate those people as brand advocates.

Remember that the social networks want one thing above all else: users posting content.  So all your employees who are on social — those you activate as advocates in a platform like EveryoneSocial — the stuff they share is algorithmically prioritized by the networks, straight to the top.

There’s no need to boost the content with ads or anything. It’s a massive opportunity that many companies are neglecting.

SZ: Other than trust, what do you think will be the big stakes in social media in 2024?

CB: Well, I think AI, which is very much connected to trust. I don’t think we need more content. I don’t think that’s the problem. I could be wrong, but it goes back to trust and our internal BS meters. We want authenticity. That’s one of the markers we’re looking for, and it’s pretty apparent when content is generated with the AI easy button.

SZ: Any advice on what marketers and social media managers out there should do to prepare for 2024?

CB: Well, a lot has changed in the last 10 years, which is probably the amount of time most of the people on this call have been working in social marketing. I think it’s important to remember that social media usage over that period has increased by more than 10 times.

Said differently, every single person you want to reach — including your own employees — is on social. They’re using social every single day.

Next year is also going to be the first year that social advertising is going exceed all other forms of digital advertising, including search. Social is the #1 marketing channel. So what do you do about that?

I think most marketers have content pretty well figured out. That’s what we’ve been doing for the last decade, and you can always do better, be more creative, but we know how to do content.

With social, though, you need to think about distribution, which is something most marketers neglect because it’s scary. But distribution is where the value is actually created.

So, the question is how do you reach your target audiences effectively, efficiently, and authentically?

We believe one of the best ways to do that is through brand advocacy, by activating your people to help share and distribute your content. But make no mistake, the winners in 2024 are going to be those that really drill down on distribution and crack that nut for their business.

Ready to build trust in your business? Let’s do it together.

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