Last week I had the pleasure of hosting our weekly Clubhouse room on Social Selling & Influence.

I chose the subject of ‘trust’ as its something I’ve been mulling over recently.

My thinking on the subject was thrust further into focus last week when I read the Edelman Trust Barometer 2021, an online survey of 33,000+ respondents across a variety of topics related to trust.

The Global reports is headlined:

After a year of unprecedented disaster and turbulence – the Covid 19 Pandemic and economic crisis, the global outcry over systemic racism and political instability – the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals an epidemic of misinformation and widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world. Adding to this is a failing trust ecosystem unable to confront the rampant infodemic, leaving the four institutions – business, government, NGOs and media – in an environment of information bankruptcy and a mandate to rebuild trust and chart a new path forward”.

Crisis of Leadership

The report goes on to dissect the ‘trust gap’…

“With a growing Trust gap and trust declines worldwide, people are looking for leadership and solutions as they reject talking heads who they deem not credible. In fact, none of the societal leaders we track—government leaders, CEOs, journalists and even religious leaders—are trusted to do what is right, with drops in trust scores for all.

In particular, CEO’s credibility is at all-time lows in several countries, including Japan (18 percent) and France (22 percent), making the challenge for CEO leaders even more acute as they try to address today’s problems”.

The reports suggests that 86% of respondents expect CEO’s to publicly speak out on issues such as the impact of the Pandemic, job automation, Societal issues, and Local community issues.  

Not all CEO’s can get on the News or on televised debate programmes but, they can all get on Social Media. Those that have a strong presence on Social Media are blazing the trail for the new wave C Suite.

Bernard Looney, CEO of bp and James Watt the Brewdog CEO spring to mind. They give you insight into how they think, their plans, their concern, they share and discuss…

My 16-year-old son told me he wants to work for a company like Brewdog. When I asked why he said, “because James Watt the CEO is all over Social…”. I don’t think I knew what a CEO was at 16. 

The next generation are watching, jumping to conclusions and planting early seeds of decision based on what they see and hear....or don't!

You might not agree with what Looney or Watt say or how they run their business, but this isn't about that, its about where they place communication and availability, this is about the pursuit of trust.

Edelman Trust Barometer - people want to hear from CEOs

But what exactly is trust?  I put this very question to acclaimed Psychologist and author of ‘Next Generation Safety Leadership: From Compliance to Care’, Clive. F Lloyd on Crux Cast #17.

“It feels initiative like we all know what trust is, we certainly feel mistrust and we know what that is whether its work of our personal lives. They are two separate variables – trust and mistrust. My research of the research points to 3 core areas:

Integrity - do what you said you were going to do. If someone doesn’t do what they said they would do, they lack tat integrity factor, and we are less likely to trust them.   

Interestingly the second factor is competence, which comes back to ability. No team expects their boss to know everything and nobody does. But if wave overblown our qualifications, if I say, “I know how to do this, I’m the master of this” and then I can’t live up to that, people can lose trust very quickly and we’ve probably all had a boss like that. 

The third factor is what the academics call benevolence, all that means is care. In other words, to what degree as a leader to I get involved, do I know people stories, and do they know mine?  Do I invite people in to hear their perspective on things, do they reckon I care about them, is the bottom line. 

Those are the 3 factors and interestingly you need all 3, its ok to care but if you don’t do what you said you would, you’ll lose trust. Interestingly, the integrity element is really important in the first place…to overcome mistrust, its benevolence that comes out as most important”.

For the leaders, the strongest vehicle to get the message out is Social Media. According the Simon Kemp and the team at Datareportal, on a planet of 7.83 billion humans, 4.66 billion have access to the internet and 4.20 billion are active Social Media users.

40.4% of those with access to the internet are using Social Media for work...

Datareportal's take on the size of the internet and social...

As leaders we must move now to stake our seat at the Social Media table, its now no longer fanciful or a fun idea, its business critical.

Something that caught my eye recently, which puts all this in perspective, was a piece on LinkedIn by Chris Fleming, CEO of Cyberhawk a Global drones inspection company, his post read…

"If you are leading a company in 2020 you are actually running two companies. The first is the one you will recognise as your day job but the second is a media company. Marketing phenomenon Grant Leboff told me this a few years ago and it has stuck with me ever since.

Covid has accelerated digital interactions and the new ways of engaging because we can’t go and meet our customers or even our employees face to face! This year Cyberhawk will embrace the digital by showing and telling more, as we intend to recruit two bloggers who can fly drones, edit footage and tell a good story.

Why is this more relevant, even before Covid hit us?

My kids both create TikTok videos and they can bash out funny, engaging clips in minutes with all the effects. I see content that companies I actually admire put out on LinkedIn that are just so dull and utterly un-engaging. I won’t watch it and sure as “ships” my kids won’t and they are the employees and customers of the future."

It's an Interesting post, certainly sums up how more and more of us see the world these days.

Your buyers were active on social media, even before Covid, this has accelerated. As a business and as leaders, if we know our prospects and customers are on Social, then your Salespeople and your employees should be empowered to be where your clients are…(remember the stats from earlier…).

When we talk about empowerment, we mean they need to be given the skills, the ability and the environment to have profiles so they can be recognised in this digital world, to be trained how to engage with these prospects and customers in the digital age.

We hear business leaders say to us all the time "we are all over social", when those business are clearly not.

As Chris says, you are running a media company, your Salespeople and employees need to be empowered to create content that excites, engages, educates the audience you want to influence. 

To quote Chris again "I see content that companies I actually admire put out on LinkedIn that are just so dull and utterly un-engaging."   Why do great companies, with great people not allow them to talk on Social…?

If you are interested in what the future looks like for Sales and Marketing, today, check out Chris and his colleagues at Cyberhawk, they will give you a pretty good idea…

Let’s talk about how we can get your leaders showing the way on Social in ’21 with integrity, Competence and Benevolence.

Live Social ‘21

Eric Doyle

Crux / DLA Ignite

We run our Clubhouse on Social Selling and Influence every Friday at 1pm UK time, feel free to come and join us, we’d love to hear your take on our chosen themes, if you’d like to suggest one, let us know.