For companies and individuals that incorporate social media tools and networks into marketing strategies, one of the basic benefits is to build a level of trust between the people that follow and the company or person.

Congressman Weiner has shown how easy it can be to destroy the trust he once had with the people he is supposed to represent and his fellow representatives in Congress.TRUST Easily taken, hard to earn

Trust is an asset that should be valued and protected. Trust is built up over time. Once trust is broken, it takes more than a news conference to rebuild it. It takes time. The higher the fall the longer it will take, if ever, to rebuild the trust it took year to earn.

Take a look at past political examples of trust that was broken:

Richard Nixon – after resigning from office it took decades to restore a moderate level of trust and yet that trust was never fully restored.

John Edwards – He blew it big time and it cost him a presidential run. He is still working at restoration and has a very difficult road ahead.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – He kept his infidelity secret until he got out of office, but the story came out never the less. He lost his wife and family, and the future for work looks dim right now.

Social Media and Trust

Rep. Weiner unfortunately used Twitter, the microblogging social media tool, and has 79,954 followers. Well, all of America is following the story now as it has gone viral.

Trust takes a long time to build and can be erased in a matter of seconds. Networking no matter which type – in person or online – typically is the way to the trust is built.

People find using social media today that it is a way to build a level of trust between companies and the consumer. In a way, social media builds trust making the company more human and like a person. After all, it is not a company that is engaging in a conversation, it is people that become the face of the company.

For example, I joined a Microsoft Office LinkedIn Group sometime ago.  Kim Ervin was the moderator of the group and I had several “conversations” online with her and other group members. We discussed issue of importance to us that Microsoft actually responded to, well Kim representing Microsoft responded. That all changed when a new moderator came on board and now I don’t follow the group as much as I feel a sense that my voice is no longer going to be heard as well.

People engage in social media today to network with friends and companies. That helps build a degree of trust and loyalty; loyalty is a two-way street. 

Trust is an asset. Trust is an investment. It takes time to develop and seconds to destroy. Treat it as such.