This week, I noticed the concept of trust popping up a few times in my RSS reader. Namely—how reliable is social media? How much can bloggers be trusted to report events accurately? How do we know if a meme is for real?
When it comes to our general distrust of bloggers, I’d count unreliability as a good reason to hold them in a bit of contempt. Your favorite blogger may post great content every day for months, and then unceremoniously disappear for weeks with no word. (Not that I know about anything resembling that, ahem.) A recent meme that swept my Facebook and Twitter feeds last week was the adorable “Jenny,” of the dry-erase board job abandonment fame. Of course it was a hoax, meant only for entertainment, according to the perpetrators. I’d argue that authenticity of a viral meme is part of what makes some of them so entertaining (see: Diet Coke and Mentos), but that’s a topic for another post.
Also in this round of Jots, we have two views on customer service in the age of social media. Is it a revelation, or is it turning us into a bunch of whiners who’d do well to watch Louis C.K.’s well-viewed rant about our dissatisfaction in the face of monumental technological achievement? (Ed: “Everything’s Amazing, and Nobody’s Happy”)
If It’s On The Internet, It Must Be True – TechCrunch – First, a hat tip to Neville Hobson for pointing me towards this excellent post, which breaks down the problems with viral hoaxes like the aforementioned “Jenny.” Jon Orlin points out that a lie or hoax today can explode online in a way that couldn’t happen 20 years ago, when the news was dictated by editors. “With social media, there are no editors. There is no waiting for confirmation. When you tweet or re-tweet, you are not checking the facts or even so much concerned if you are spreading a lie. When the Dry Erase Girl meme hit the Web, 421,000 users shared the story on Facebook, and theChive got 2.5 million unique visits for two days in a row, the same amount it normally gets in a month.”
Who Do You Trust? – Scott Monty – With a lack of trust of bloggers or other types of social media a well-documented phenomenon, where do we go from here? Scott Monty argues several points on how to build trust with your audience, particularly a consumer base. Social marketers would do well to read this post twice. “What does this mean for marketers? It means you need to get out from behind that logo and letting your employees represent the company in a real and human way. Make it apparent that real people (dare I say, people just like your customers?) work for you and that they can represent your brand or product in an authentic manner in places where it matters to your target audience.”
Can Social Media Be Trusted? – Mitch Joel – Also on the topic of trust in social media, Mitch Joel makes a point that seems almost foreign to those of us who have been interested in these channels for years: social media is still new (to most). While trust levels for social media platforms as a source of information may not be very high, who’s to say they won’t be soon? “It’s not that the people creating Social Media content are not trustworthy. It’s the channel that people don’t trust (yet). The media channel is so new that people don’t trust it (fully). They’re skeptical (and it’s not just because every other day there’s another tweet stream about some celebrity that’s dead… even though they’re still alive). Things like this take time. Do we trust everything we see on TV or read in a magazine? Now layer that fear over a brand new media with no regulation and with content that is – and can be – created by just about anybody.”
Customer Service Tools Making us Whiny? – Shel Holtz – As someone who has used Twitter to resolve three recent customer service situations (and splendidly, I might add) with various companies, I was especially interested in this post. And Shel’s post on the matter is a must-read. He points out that while it’s true people are taking to social channels to air their frustrations in greater numbers, this is not exactly a new behavior—it’s just taking place in a different venue. “Twitter is not the source of a new behavior. It’s merely a new channel for an old behavior. The big difference is that companies are now able to hear the complaints and act on them. Further, the customer is not the only person who sees the company helping the customer. That complaint ultimately can influence scores of people to want to do business with the company.”