Social media (as a grouping of marketing channels) has a trust issue. For the better part of a decade, it’s been the predominant part of any marketing mix. Forged by MySpace and AOL, enhanced by Facebook and Twitter and now an endless amount of opportunities from the obvious like Linkedin, Instagram and Snapchat to Waze, Yelp and Pinterest - social media has become a predominant marketing platform of large and small businesses.
But there’s a problem - the goldmine of data that consumers willingly enter - including their addresses, phone number and email addresses and expanded into behaviors, psychological trends and habits - has been misused. Now...let's be honest...this isn’t anything new or unexpected. If you willingly input data into a place where companies advertise, you should expect that data to be used to influence your purchasing decisions. But when the manipulation of consumers goes beyond selling that’s where the problem lies. When it creates mistrust in the platforms themselves then it's (and please excuse the idiom) cutting off your nose to spite your face.
So the people who once mined all that data (and ultimately created all that mistrust) will now be in charge of rebuilding the confidence in one of their strongest channels. It will be up to individual brands to be transparent in how they use social media.
It’s time to get back to basics. It’s time to embrace the techniques of trust-based marketing to give social media users the certainty that while their data is being used - it’s not being used dubiously. It’s time for organizations to build relationships through trustworthy dialogue, unbiased information and comprehensive respect between marketers and consumers - or else one of the best channels for reaching those consumers will turn into nothing more than a late night TV paid advertorial hocking Sham Wow towels.