How telling that I should be alerted to Joseph's main blog on trust issues from his microblog on twitter! To the question - “Do social media in business breach or build trust?” - Like any communication platform, surely it has the potential to do both.

While the recent Edelman study points to greater credibility given to company websites compared to social networking channels, their research in March suggests that social media sites are critical agents of checks. Organisations’ websites are only credible when trust is maintained. But how would an organisation know if they have breached faith with their publics? With the complex nature of online communication, can the Public Relations practitioners exercise control over and manage the information received, evaluate the success of their communication and status of their relationships?
Can they afford not to engage and test the boundaries of social media?

In an online survey of over 2,000 small business owners , 45% registered their presence on facebook or twitter. While the motive is to save on marketing and advertising costs which these companies deem to be ‘a luxury’, 75% report monitoring online reviews of their businesses. This investment of time and manpower by such a large number of small businesses is indicative of the value to be had from establishing an online presence and developing new business relationships.

As for reservations over the damage potential of social media, should we dwell on this at the expense of its benefits? ‘New media’ is some 20 years old and it’s not letting up. If it’s a fad, it has an incredibly long life-span. Even the hardest critic of social media must concede that it’s a growing vehicle for communication today and a driver of social change. It’s been hyped as the biggest shift since the industrial revolution and if number crunching facts are anything to go by, there are grounds for this.

But like all communication channels, social media is the instrument of messages and we, its participants. The question is not if it breaches or builds trust but if WE do.
Are we venturing where angels fear to tread?
I say …tread gently by tread all the same :)

Posted by Khairiah

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