Tom Elgar's recent Passle brought Edelman's Trust Barometer to my attention again. It is a fascinating examination of the evolution this millennium of influence, trust and confidence in this age of technology, global communication, tumbling institutions and financial precariousness.
The most recent iteration of the research has interestingly found business enjoying greater confidence with the global population than our politicians/public bodies (at only 42%) and the media.
And that seems to be thanks to an increasing transparency and openness in how companies communicate about their work, their products and services, and also how they engage with both their employees and their customers.
Respondents were clear about how important that honesty is at a leadership level too; those questioned felt that trust in company CEOs derived, most particularly, from an understanding of their personal values (79%) and the obstacles that they had overcome (70%).
Unsurprising then, where business experiences are good ones they inspire confidence and belief, with 62% of respondents highlighting "companies I use" as a trusted source of information online.
And even more powerful is the peer recommendation: three-quarters of respondents had made decisions or had had concerns allayed following "conversations about brands with their peers".
What a significant endorsement of content and inbound marketing this would appear to be then: evidencing how customers and their networks welcome the opportunity to make their decisions based on a position of being fully informed, aware and educated by firms through their online content and social messaging and activity.
This philosophy of creating content and buyer experiences that build trust, ensure clarity and engage with prospects on their terms and only when they are ready, is very much at the heart of inbound marketing. From there, it is the winning over of advocates - people who love your product, service or brand - that serves to extend this sphere of interest and influence.
When confidence in governments, cross-national bodies and even presidential candidates is ebbing away for the global population, then adopting an approach that focuses on earning that trust back must surely be a sensible one.
This thought provoking research piece by Edelman is well worth your time in placing brand trust in to a global context. The survey has noted an increase in the value of peer-to-peer communication over the last few years. Clearly this is a bit scary for traditional marketers - journalists, celebrities & well-known on-line personalities are all in the bottom half in terms of their influence. By contrast, friends & family, your employees, the CEO and your communications to customers are amongst the most trusted sources.