Who do you trust on social media?

Assignment: Who do you trust on social media, on any platform or combination of platforms? Focus on individuals rather than corporations. Reference some of their social media content. Why do you trust them? What behaviours do they display in their social spaces? What do they benefit from gaining your trust?


As I began to ponder WHO I trust on social media, I was surprised to find myself continually turning to companies rather than people. Although I was initially surprised by this, I began to realize the expectations I have in regard to companies and social media marketing. I chose to follow many of the companies, and afterall they are businesses, so would it be so wrong that they market to me? Do I love being bombard it by it ? No, and of course that’s where the self-promotion comes into play, but I’m accepting of it. Although my level of acceptance may be significantly impacted by my profession, which includes social media marketing, it did make me wonder if the formula for trust is different for companies than individuals. While I don’t consciously believe I have expectations for individuals on social media (because let’s face it, nothing is surprising anymore), I do believe businesses have somewhat of a professionalism to maintain.

Now, is that to say I don’t have hopes for how people would use social media (i.e. respectfully) – certainly, but I don’t place those expectations on them. After feeling as if I couldn’t trust anyone on Facebook as I scrolled through my feed, it hit me – a former neighbor, stay at home mom, and mother of two. I’ll refrain from using her name or screenshots of content, but as I thought about WHY I trusted her, the MORE I trusted her and reminisced about previous posts of hers.

In order to explain why I trust this woman, I must share with you my revised trust formula….well it’s really more of a modification in wording for the formula discussed in our ethics course.*

According to Steve Rayson, the formula for trust on social media is as follows:

A=Authority, H=Helpfulness, I=Intimacy, SP=Self-Promotion

A=Authority, H=Helpfulness, I=Intimacy, SP=Self-Promotion

While I do believe the formula created by Rayson would produce relatively the same results, I would use different wording and factor in consistency. Although I don’t know that the mathematical side of the equation would make sense, if I HAD to re-write the equation I suppose it would look like one of the two equations below:

TRUST = Authority x Compassion x Transparency x Consistency / Self-Promotion


TRUST = Authority x Compassion x Transparency / Consistency – Self-Promotion

The individual whom I spoke of that I trust on social media uses Facebook as her primary platform. She doesn’t share only the positive, or gripe about everything negative. She’s transparent about both the high’s and low’s of her life. Her posts show photos of her children’s misspellings, side pony-tails her daughter has created on her (the mom’s) head, images of family members that have past and date nights with her and her husband, as well as their triumph over his battle with cancer. Her posts ooze with compassion toward her family, her new friends and those she had to part from when she moved away. She posts regularly on Facebook and is a mother, wife and simply a human being, which in my opinion gives her the authority to speak openly about life. While I believe the “self-promotion” factor is a little more difficult to factor in when it comes to individuals’ posts, particularly if they don’t work, this person doesn’t post about herself often. While her family, friends and religion are all very closely related to her, it’s not the same as posting a photo or status about herself personally.

As I thought more about how much I trust this person and how quickly we became close as neighbors, my feelings became more pronounced. I supposes that’s how I know I trust her. Not only do I believe her, which is definitionally related to trust, but I care about her. I also suppose this is why a company would want you to trust them, so that you reciprocate a certain level of compassion or care. I also can’t help but realize how my relationship with this individual off-line has influenced my feelings toward her online. Again, I suppose that’s also similar to businesses. If they promote trust online with consumers, they must also provide that same environment in their storefront or through their customer service. While I can’t say that I am connected with anyONE on social media that I haven’t interacted with outside of social (I would consider my peers and I interacting through coursework outside of social media), I would imagine it’s more difficult to start a relationship with no reputation and build trust entirely online, for both an individual or a business.

In a nutshell, I trust those individuals (and businesses) on social media that not only fit the criteria of the trust equation online, but also have a trusting relationship with them outside of social media as well.

*To my peers: For more details on why I chose to change the wording of the formula check out my reading reaction post for week three. In an effort to (somewhat) stay within the word restrictions, I have not included my detailed reasoning within this blog post.

Survey Assignment: Facebook Ads

As a professional in the marketing field and a graduate student studying social media, I have chosen to examine Facebook users’ opinions about Facebook advertisements.

Facebook advertising has allowed marketers to target individuals using demographics as well as personal preferences (“likes”). Although Google may have a larger audience to market to, Facebook may be able to target individuals more accurately.

Although Facebook advertising may seem like a great tool for marketers, how do Facebook users feel about this tactic? As you may have noticed, Facebook not only shows advertisements on the right side of your screen, as shown here (Hootsuite & Bounty), but it also shows sponsored advertisements within your news feed.

Facebook ad - Right

Sample of Facebook ad as shown outside of news feed, on right side of screen

Facebook ad in feed

Sample of Facebook ad shown within news feed











While these advertisements may seem annoying to Facebook users, Facebook also gives us the option to hide ads from a specific company and even take a survey to make your News Feed “better.” Whether the ads are annoying or not may be irrelevant to marketers if they produce a return on investment.

Although I was personally annoyed by some of these ads initially, in particular those that appeared in my feed as opposed to the right hand side of the screen, I also grew to appreciate their surprising level of accuracy in regards to my interests.  From a user experience perspective I can see how these advertisements can be annoying; however, from a marketing perspective I can also see how extremely powerful they can be. Being torn between these two opinions, I find myself wondering what other users think and whether or not having a marketing background affects their opinion.

The following are the instructions for our Research Methods in Mass Communication surveys assignment: Identify one service, register for the free trial and explore how you might use one of these programs to answer a research question you may be considering. Create a short survey and distribute to your friends on social media. Explain the purpose of the survey and what you hope to better understand.

I have chosen to use Survey Monkey, a free online survey software & questionnaire tool, to further investigate Facebook users opinions pertaining to Facebook advertisements. While I don’t believe a “short” survey will provide conclusive evidence regarding this matter, I do hope to achieve a better understanding of users opinions by collecting evidence from a larger sample size than just myself.

While I will be administering the survey formally on Facebook, it can also be found here.

NOTE: Initially this survey was designed to have a “weed-out” question asking individuals if they have a Facebook account and if they did not the survey would end. However, this feature is only available through the paid version of Survey Monkey. For this reason, I have included the question; however, it is the only required question. In the event the individual does not have a Facebook account, they are instructed to answer just the first question and select “Done” to complete the survey. Additionally, the unpaid version of Survey Monkey limits surveys to 10 questions.

Results will be provided publicly the week following the administration of the survey.