I really, really like this post from @mashable (Greg Ferenstein) about how to build trust in the world of social media. As the article accurately points out, the rules — while certainly related to the non-digital world — are somewhat different in the Web 2.0 world (gosh, is anybody still using that term?). The videos from Gov. Schwarzeneggar (thanking Twitterers) and Domino’s CEO (apologizing for the YouTube fiasco) are perfect examples of the article’s main thrust regarding authenticity, credibility and effectiveness.Ferenstein draws on the work of Professor Judy Olson, an expert in the psychology of trust, and applies lessons from that research to today’s digital conversation landscape. Read this section of his article with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in mind and see what bubbles to the surface:
People are willing to pass judgment, with or without good information. Where examples of one’s competence or reputation are lacking, people will construct whole profiles of another’s personality from what little information is available.
And, as Ferenstein points out, the keys to credibility in today’s communication environment are not far from our grasp:
Few, if any, educational institutes teach the art of proper digital communication. Most of us have simply made up an impromptu strategy and crossed our fingers in the hopes that disaster doesn’t strike. With a bit of help from our friends in the fields of psychology and information technology, we can apply the age-old intuitions of face-to-face conversation to whatever advances in technology come our way. [emphasis added]
When public relations is practiced correctly, it is an amalgam of communication theory, marketing, business, economics, psychology, political science, sociology, literature, history, science and a host of other disciplines. Well-read practitioners who are students of human behavior and psychology hold the keys to the social media kingdom in their hands if they give themselves permission to let go of biases and stereotypes.
For anyone in the public relations business — especially the crisis communications field — this article is a must-read and one that is worth pondering.