Have brands gone too far with using people’s data and technology, or not far enough? Are brands conscious of this issue, and do they need a conscience?

Technology in marketing has provided brands with more information about people than most companies can deal with. Privacy policies are those things you click past, without really reading or understanding. But what do people really want brands to do to maintain their trust?

While brands have focused on creating content and connecting with communities, have they lost their conscience? Brand purposes guide many brands on what they do deliberately, but what about the unintentional consequences of marketing on a particular advertising tech platform, or appearing near specific content? Where is your brand as it relates to being conscious of these associations and actions? 

Without a conscience to guide more than just content and context, social media and brands will lose trust. 

Brands need to have more than a purpose — they need a conscience. They need to help rebuild trust on the social platforms they live on. Brands and social platforms need to be “in this together.” 

We recommend that brands take action in three critical areas: 

1. Give people a better deal for their data 

Consumers are feeling ripped off and brands need to give them a better, more transparent and more direct deal. Let’s move beyond privacy policies being legal safeguards, and ensure a clear value exchange exists for people, brands and data. 

Better value exchange 49 percent say they are not willing to sacrifice some of their data privacy in return for a more personalized shopping experience.

Clearer data policies 58 percent say it is often difficult to understand which information they are giving platforms or applications access to or permission to collect and use.

2. Create trusted content on social media 

Brands must lead in the fight for truth. This means being at the forefront of creating credible, quality content distributed on social media. 

People cited these content attributes as most important when they decide whether to trust content they see on social media:

  • 65 percent Quality of the writing or visuals

  • 63 percent Author’s credentials or expertise

  • 58 percent Content is well-designed and looks formal

3. Join forces to build trust in social media 

While there are billions of social media users, they don’t feel empowered alone to drive the kind of change that builds trust.

Brands need to use their leverage and purchase power to lead a coalition of government and consumers, along with social media, to drive change for the common good.

Mark Renshaw is global Brand chair.