A version of this post was published on LinkedIn.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals many interesting findings about our times and shifts in society. A major one is that we have returned to the largest-ever inequality gap of trust between the informed public and the mass population. Another deserves special attention from employers, for over the last couple of years they have become the most trusted relationship – surpassing NGOs, business, government and media.

But among the many insights that can be extracted from the global research, one is key for brands navigating their Digital Transformation journey: issues of trust should inform a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Here is why:

  1. Audiences Trust What They Know
    The survey shows that we live in a world divided by trust. Men and women trust differently, especially when it comes to business; 60 percent of men trust this institution vs. 53 percent of women. In addition, the informed public and the mass population have different views about the future; 63 percent of the first group believe they and their families will be better off in five years’ time vs. 49 percent of the second.

    Here is where a strong influencer marketing strategy can play a decisive role for brands. Different groups have specific values, interests and voices. Influencers are valuable because they can communicate with and lead a certain community in an authentic, trustworthy way. The key to success is identifying the right influencers, creating profound partnerships and deploying storytelling to bring business and its communities closer together on social.
  2. C-Suite Responsibility Is Expanding
    The report also shows that this trust inequality has a consequence: people are making change happen. One way is by expecting business leaders to speak up and stand up on societal issues. For example, a majority of people agree that CEOs can create positive change in equal pay (65 percent), prejudice and discrimination (64 percent), training for the jobs of tomorrow (64 percent), the environment (56 percent) and personal data (55 percent). To support leaders in this new function, marketers need to leverage digital executive positioning solutions. Building and managing executive social channels is now a critical business function that all companies must embrace. These programs have tangible implications and are critical to real-time reputation management, increasing authenticity, building credibility and engaging both customers and employees.
  3. Engaged Employees Can Impact the Bottom Line
    The redefinition of the CEO’s role is one of the signs of the new employee-employer contract. In this new deal, keeping the ever-changing workforce engaged and informed has become a business imperative. Data from this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer proves that trust cements this partnership — 78 percent of employees who trust their employers engage in advocacy behaviors on behalf of their employers, while only 39 percent of employees who do not trust their employers will do the same. In times when social channels provide immense amplification potential for employees’ voices, employee engagement strategies can help create an informed, motivated and empowered workforce. As companies continue to employ geographically diverse teams, internal communications programs are also essential — the most effective are those driven by intranets and digital tools built for collaboration at the speed of business.

Thomas Crampton is global chair, Digital.