Is Your Company Trusted or Do You Have a Digital Comb Over?

Is Your Company Trusted?

Many companies are entering the social/green/community space, with hopes of impressing customers, yet despite their best intentions, they could come across as inauthentic, and be damaging their own brand.  Companies should first take a self-assessment of their brand to see if they’re ready before they decide to enter the social space.

Companies should first assess their culture and ask:

  • Is the company ready to talk about the good –and bad– with the market?
  • Is the internal culture ready to embrace customers on their own terms?
  • Is the culture ready to make changes based on the request of customers?

Launching a corporate blog is easy, a Twitter account even easier, yet if companies culture doesn’t match the values they’re telling the market, they risk brand damage through reduced credibility. You’re not fooling anyone.

  • So very true. Self-serving promotional rhetoric adds virtually zero value to the ongoing conversation about your brand. That’s why “listening” of any type – monitoring/listening platform and free/or paid — Brands must take the time have to listen and understand the context and carefully interject valuable and contextual relevant material to the conversation.

  • Jeremiah, my favorite line “Launching a corporate blog is easy, a Twitter account even easier, yet if companies culture doesn’t match the values they’re telling the market, they risk brand damage through reduced credibility.”

    This is so true. There was a recent study by your ex company stating that the public trusted corporate blogs dead last out of all other online channels. You’ve nailed the reason why. Too many companies have a culture that doesnt match the transparency needed to be successful online.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Rich

    Good reminder, Josh Bernoff conducted the study, People don’t trust corporate blogs, they’re filled with rhetoric, here are the findings:

    http://blogs.forrester.com/groundswell/2008/12/people-dont-tru.html

  • Truly awesome post.
    Agreed on all fronts: brand strategy comes first. And if that is not “social” ready, the consequences can only be bad.

  • Your imagery was good enough to remind me of the SNL “Oracle Conclave” episode! LOL! So true and unfortunately, there are lots of examples!

  • FB_882660081

    Jeremiah, I keep saying companies must embrace the mindset of social media before engaging with the toolset. The DNA of social media – authenticity and transparency – has to be ingrained in them before they can make the most effective use of the tools available.

    I’m troubled that I see a continued emphasis on the “how” without an equal emphasis on the “why.” Understanding and adapting themselves to the cultural landscape is paramount. Companies must be able to positively answer the question, “Are we ready?” Those who are will be rewarded; those who are not stand the chance of being taken to task by the very consumers they wish to engage.

  • A few weeks ago over at the Webtrends blog we were discussing how over the next year the number of companies entering the social space will grow slowly as they all go cautiously, then the following year a whole bunch of companies will jump in as they see the early mover advantage.

    I wonder if, a year or two after that, your list of companies getting punked by social media will grow exponentially as companies who have entered the space get burned because they don’t do it well.

    Be interesting to see.

  • A big challenge here is what to do when the answer to any of these questions is “no,” and how do you change the answers to “yes.” This is a tough one for communications and marketing people – it is becoming nearly impossible to do the job properly without engaging social media, but at the same time how many marketing/comms people have the clout within their company to change the company culture?

    I believe this is one reason that you see so many “comb overs.”

  • It’s so refreshing to see strategists consider trust as a central component of their brand strategy. Articulating and living values — as well as a vision and mission — that go beyond simply selling a product are smart ways of leveraging trust to differentiate.

    But there’s more. Enabling trust between people and organizations requires a systems-wide perspective.

    Jeremiah, I’m sure everyone would benefit from your perspective on other ways that organizations can build and maintain trust in a highly networked, transparent world. For example, what role does Community play? How does industry leadership and corporate social responsibility factor in? How should organizations build confidence in the consumer experience with the product and at each touchpoint? And, finally, what role does social media play in reinforcing all of the above?

    –Dave

  • Christopher Coulter

    Recreating Gartner Quads truly is the first sign of madness…

    Trust boils down to something rather simple, beyond just culture — form is more important than words. A company can say everyone is equal, but if the Junior Execs, get the big offices, and have posh conference lunches, it cancels out any puffery social-talking content whatsoever.

  • I think this is a great example of why the P(eople), O(bjectives), S(trategy), T(echnology)is such an important framework. You show why these strategies and technologies might not even be appropriate for some companies and corporate cultures.

    I think in many cases it is better to recommend the company not even get in the game if they can’t be authentic about their engagement.

    Do you agree? Or, do you think the social Web is so important that you must recommend (sometimes radical) change?

  • Hi Jeremiah- you covered the topic rather well in your webinar- Getting companies to create a Voice of the Customer model via – as we call- “Tipping the Silos” between departments- forcing a strategic reset or rethink on whether the organization should tackle the issues top down or bottom up- the challenge is the openeness of Exec’s to do it. It’s not going to be easy. We are approaching it from pain points they can relate to- top line growth, new opportunities, CUSAT metrics- GaryVee recently chided-“Punch the CEO in the mouth”- but his point is that the reset will involve questioning if incumbent exec’s have malleable leadership skills or not?

  • Grammer… inauthentic not unauthentic

  • Bill Rice, creating a twitter account for a company is easy, yet to be successful, it’s about the changes to the entire culture –that requires significant energy.

    Dave thanks, I made the change

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  • Simple, yet prophetic message Jeremiah! I have been pounding the issue of Corporate Authenticity for many years. It really is the question of “do my actions and the actions of the people that represent my company match what I say?” If, as a business leader you can’t answer yes to this question…then start there. Because increasing visibility to your inauthentic nature will only hurt your brand, not help it! So many believe that Social Media is about marketing…in other words, extending a message that is, true or false, designed to improve the company’s image. I hate to say it…it’s always easy to spot these people/ companies in the Social Web. They stand out…and not in a good way!
    xeesm.com/joycevogt

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  • My company is a Trusted Cool Kid.

  • You’ll need to create, and fulfill, an editorial agenda that fuels this ongoing dialog. Forget about advertising as we know it, instead create an editorial agenda encourages dialog such as contests, incentives that can be shared with their friends.