Every day, brand marketers rely on the power of social media to engage directly with their consumers — but now that rewarding connection is at risk. With people’s trust in social media at only 41 percent globally*, consumers are now expecting brands to help fix the problems plaguing social media.

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brands and Social Media, a nine-country study, reveals that a vast majority of consumers around the world want brands to pressure social media platforms to more effectively:

  • 71 percent - safeguard personal data;
  • 70 percent - curb the spread of fake news;
  • 68 percent - shield them from offensive content.

Roughly half of the study’s 9000 respondents see brands as complicit in other social media ills:

  • 48 percent say it’s a brand’s own fault if its advertising appears next to hate speech, violent or sexually inappropriate content;
  • 47 percent believe that points of view that appear near a brand’s advertising and marketing are an indication of that brand’s values.

These concerns are causing consumers to call into question commonplace data-based marketing techniques:

  • 54 percent are uncomfortable with marketers tracking in-store purchases for targeting purposes;
  • 39 percent say it should be illegal for a brand to buy personal information from another company the consumer does business with;
  • 49 percent say they are not willing to sacrifice some of their data privacy in return for a more personalized shopping experience.

Four in 10 consumers say they are unlikely to become emotionally attached to a brand unless they are interacting via social media. But they want a better deal for their data. Brands must act to address data privacy concerns, create trusted content, and join forces with regulators, platforms and consumers to restore trust in the social media ecosystem.