I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with Megan on several Forbes pieces. Her ruthless editing and positive attitude continue to impress me.
How To Be A Modern Business and A Trusted Brand
In ten years, the world saw financial crises, mass uprisings, mass immigrations, augmented reality, espionage, terrorism, natural disasters, climate change, and threats of wars. How does a generation process overwhelming external stimuli?
With thoughtful documentation.
These documented moments are then shared online with the intention to spark humour, boost relationships, or generate awareness.
Humour, for example, is shared through memes. Connections are shared on Facebook, Tinder, Bumble. Awareness is shared from alternative news and opinion sites like Reddit, Mashable, Twitter. Through these collective digital interactions, public opinion is shaped. Today, those opinions affect businesses more than they realise.
On social media alone, people are getting ‘triggered’ by the lack of thought in posts published by high-network accounts; posts that are regularly trivial, populist, moralising, or sometimes, just plain whack. (Cup of covfefe, anyone?)
The latest Edelman global annual study on trust mirrors this scepticism. The report confirms the weighty public mistrust in four key institutions: government, media, business, and NGOs.
But, as always, there’s a silver lining: The Edelman study also shows that business has a higher trust score than government and other institutions, calling it “the last retaining wall, holding back a rising tide of dissatisfaction”.
Now is a crucial time to recover customer trust. How can businesses do this?
1. Get with the times.
Millennial values run on diversity, transparency, kindness, simplicity, the economy of sharing, the freedom of choice, the preservation of natural resources, travel, collaboration, innovation, novelty, health, fitness, and happiness.
That might sound simplistic but even established institutions are having a hard time getting to grips with the current state of affairs. And who can blame them when there’s always something new going on somewhere? Even the New York Times got bubble tea confused as a new thing, bless them.
There’s also an abundance of new words to catch up with. A lot of ‘shade’ is being thrown at the kooky vocabulary, yet every so often these made-up words make it to the dictionary. That’s telling.
Perhaps what would help is to not think of the changes as a bastardisation of cultures and the English language, but as an evolution. What was that expression? If you can’t beat them, join them.
2. Understand what is driving current events.
In Millennialspeak, be ‘woke’ (awake).
Social media channels can be useful barometers for gauging public interest and opinion.
Merriam-Webster, the dictionary, use real-time data tools that help them track which words are being looked up at any given time. They then check to see if these ‘lookups’ have any connection with current events and organise their tweets around popular search words.
ABOVE. A tweet in relation to US President Trump, misspelling heal for heel.
The replies on Merriam-Webster’s Twitter posts are often funny, sometimes insightful, rarely unpleasant. Their level of wokeness demonstrates their relevance in the digital world, all the while becoming a trusted alternative to search engines.
3. Don’t succumb to deceit and ninja tactics.
In an economy built on on fake news, fake customers, fake followers, fake something else, businesses can’t afford to ignore their customers’ disenchantment.
When the deceitful trend of influence manipulation came in the form of fandom sales to boost digital following and interaction, social networks created the verification badge. This would be an added trust measure to establish a person or a brand’s credibility. Or so they thought. Today, that verification badge no longer holds the same authority and clout it once did.
Then, just as this article was being updated, a report revealed a black market for Instagram verification. Perhaps the most surprising part in this revelation is that no one is actually surprised. Websites like Engagement Groups have long been around, and the launch of Surkus App – a “crowd acquisition” tool for businesses doing events – makes it easier for anyone and everyone willing to spend their monies on looking bright, shiny, and ‘bigly’ (as in great).