Trust is at an all-time low. According to the annual ‘trust barometer’ published by Edelman this week, only 33% of people in the UK trust businesses – down from 46% in 2016. And we’ve only just passed January. Still, it seems we trust businesses more than we do charities (32% … down from 50%), the government (26% … down from 36%) and the media (24% … also down from 36%).
It all seems a little sad and a long way from where it ought to be. So what can be done? There’s plenty of help at hand (just Google: ‘how to build trust?’ like I did). The top hit from Wikihow gives advice such as, ‘be reliable’, ‘be honest’, ‘be open’ and ‘have integrity’, which all seem fairly sensible and worthy of testing.
Second highest result was from Relate, ‘the UK’s largest provider of relationship support’. They recommend the following:
- Set clear boundaries (establish your values and explain what they are)
- Encourage open communication (keep talking, even about your feelings and emotions!)
- Expect bumps in the road (all relationships have ups and downs – but keep talking as it helps to work through them and actually builds stronger, longer term bonds).
This is all good advice for any rocky relationship or marriage – or indeed for a brand looking to build trust with consumers. In an era of fake news, it’s also a solid foundation for creating an effective – and trust-building – content strategy.
Being clear on the boundaries is the first step. Then an open and ongoing dialogue can and should begin. Show (as opposed to just telling) the world about the values that drive your organisation, what it does and the people that power it. And listen to what comes back.
Remember, true connections happen when humans interact with other humans (for the foreseeable at least) so allow, and even encourage, your people to appear front and centre. Finally, don’t be afraid to talk openly about some of the ‘bumps in the road’ – as humans we understand real life and actually relate more to this than a glossed imitation of it.
A little bravery is all you need to be more open and honest, but if you’ve done the work to set clear values, and consistently demonstrate these, your real connections with real fans will deepen. Here’s to more trust (and lasting marriages) in 2017.