Mistrust in Brands: Can Video Earn the Trust Back?

After reading and reflecting upon the blogs ‘Trick or Treat: Brand Edition’ and ‘Finding Meaning in a Post-Truth World’ it’s reignited the thought that in the past couple of years there has been a growing pace of distrust amongst the public regarding public institutions and corporate brands alike. My question is: how is this trust to be earned back?

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the library list of political scandals, and some corporations seen as operating purely on profit and not by purpose; consumer trust has conceivably been eroded. Consequently, brands are now having to actively deal with the aftermath of this catastrophic loss of trust and re-communicate with consumers. Consumer trust may have been taken for granted in the past and companies are raising serious questions about their future marketing campaigns.

It could be said that nobody trust experts anymore. Shale gas for example, is stated to be environmentally safe and able to secure our energy for the future. However, British opposition to fracking still exceeds support and so the public remain sceptical. 78% are in favour of technologies such as wind power, solar and biomass. The more people know about fracking the more they oppose, polling finds.

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An anti-fracking march through Horsham in Sussex in January 2016. Photograph: Natasha Quarnby/REX/Shutterstock

This growing lack of trust and disbelief in institutions across the world is creating a problem for brands. How do they try to communicate with consumers? How do they start these conversations? One solution is for brands to increase empathy and to decrease self-orientation, which both in turn lead to increased trust. For instance, show how your business is operating in an ethical way and emphasise that you are thinking about the consumer rather than just business goals and profits.

Consumer trust in brands on social media is especially falling as the lines between marketing and the non-commercial blur. Consumers are not interested in brand stories as much as they are interested in their own lives. Brands now operate in a complex communication system. They have to operate within the consumer’s own eco-system and it is no longer pertinent to deliver a discreet linear message in the form of interruptive advertisements.

Constant dialogue with the consumer needs to be maintained. The likes of Facebook and Twitter are seen as informative sources as well as a place to connect with people globally. Social media such as this is transparent and able to create hyper-critical worlds where somebody’s opinion is immediately available and echoes forever; in this world, the consumer is pulling the strings.

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I believe video is critical to the future and the life line of brands, in order to reverse this trend.

Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President for Facebook Operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has recently said that, in five years’ time, Facebook “will be definitely mobile, it will be probably be all video.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has already noted that video will be more and more important for the platform, especially 360º video as it is more immersive and engages the consumer as they can move in and around it. This will include VR and possibly AR in the future.

The amount of average daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion video views per day to 8 billion during the period of April 2015 and November 2015. That says it all! Here is another statistic to consider: by 2019, 80% of the world’s internet traffic is predicted to be visual. Visual and video content will be more essential than ever.

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With this in mind, brands and publishers are scrambling to re-communicate and build trust and loyalty with the consumer, whilst engaging with them on an emotional level. To create a successful online campaign, you have to engage real people, get past the ad blockers and onto people’s Facebook homepages. You need shareability to drive conversation and action.

Making content that engages people is not simply about making it excellent and compelling; it is also about adding in hooks to the creative that will appeal to different verticals and interest groups, understanding the zeitgeist and what people are into or want to see, as well as knowing what is going to trend on a given day and making that work for you. All of this knowledge, plus many other factors, needs to feed back into the creative and inform the story you are telling.

Brand messages have to be true, wherever they are seen, because people now trust each other more than institutions. This is backed up by the rise of comparison sites like Trip Advisor and Airbnb. Consumers are asking: is the brand message consistent? Does the brand operate in a diverse and sustainable manner? Is it telling the truth? If they are not doing any of those then the trust will plummet.

resized 2.jpgBrands are fighting to be part of the conversations, interests and the consumers’ passions. Video can go a long way in helping them to engage, entertain, and enlighten the consumer to such an extent that trust can be built and the consumers will want to share the conversation with others.

Is the new key metric to the worth of a video now ‘engagement’ and what is the best way to measure this?

Could it be that video is about to be a brand’s new best friend for the foreseeable future? One thing is for sure, it’s a powerful friend and not just for Christmas.

Here’s to 2017…

Chris Daniells

Further reading: Charles H Green – Trusted Advisor gives an analytical approach of evaluating trust and a conceptual framework to improve trustworthiness.

 

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