Earning the trust of your audience


The other day I read an interesting report from 2015 from Gartner. The topic was ”Apply Digital Humanism to Customer Experience Design” (requires registration). As most things that Gartner put out, it’s geared towards the people at places like General Electric or Adidas or H&M or Booking.com; large companies that handle customer interaction on a daily basis, in huge numbers. At the same time, I can’t help but think that creators in the content business can make use of the facts and principles outlined as well.

The report highlights the importance of humanism in today’s increasingly transparent society, where one of the major drawbacks of being constantly online seems to be that it is now impossible not to have organizations and companies track your every movement, every search and every purchase. This, in turn, has led to fear and anxiety about private spheres being increasingly invaded.

While 42% were still onboard with the thought of a company analyzing their purchase patterns with that company, only 33% thought it was ok for the company to analyze demographic information. Only 20% thought it was OK for the company to search their online history, 10% thought it was somehow OK for the company to check their social media postings, and amazingly enough, 5% were still OK with the thought of a company searching through their email.

What can creators learn from all this? Well, that we’re in a bit of a conundrum right now. There is SO much content fighting for peoples’ attention that it’s easy to believe that we need to shout our message from the rooftops, deafening the din of all other creators. There is SO much interaction going on that it’s easy to go to any lengths to make sure that it is MY content they interact with, that it’s MY plans for audience engagement and strategies for social media impact they pay attention to and follow along with. But that is perhaps not the right way to go.

One core principle of Digital Humanism is the notion of respecting personal space. Now, how do we do this, while at the same time being able to entice our target audience into engaging, participating, contributing and interacting? I think the answer is manyfold.

For one thing, automation – while saving sooo much time and being soooo handy – should be used with extreme prejudice. An automated occurence has no way of gauging whether a personal space is being invaded or not, and can’t in any way respond to such a situation, should it arise. Fewer interaction points, but moderated by people, would be my preferred solution. This also forces the production and the creator to kill quite a lot of darlings and focus on only the most essential interaction possibilities; in and of itself a useful excercise.

Secondly, we need to earn the trust of our audience and treat it with utmost respect. A company or an organization can never be trusted by someone as much as they trust their intimate relations or near friends – therefore it is not plausible to, as a company, expect that a person would want to share information with the company to the same extent they would agree to share it with their friends. But through storytelling and character building, we might be able to overcome at least some of this divide; people can be more trusting towards a well-crafted character – even if they know it’s ”only” storytelling – than a faceless company. The second this character betrays their trust though, all of that is gone.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. There is an inherent lack of trust nowadays, that we all are competing against. The only way to overcome that lack is to show an unwavering respect for the audience, through interactions and non-interactions. Combine this with a compelling story, great characters and a well-thought out plan for interaction, engagement and validation…. What more do you need?




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