3 Ways Employee Advocacy Programs Might Affect Trust in Employees and Experts

Edelman released their 2014 Trust Barometer, and it looks like people still have high trust in the three types of employees that brands should empower through an Employee Advocacy program:

  • Technical expert in the company
  • A person like yourself
  • Regular employee

As shown in the table below, the numbers have not changed much in the past year. I can’t think of any reason why they should have changed, so this makes sense to me.

However, I wonder how these numbers could change as more brands implement Employee Advocacy programs in coming years. In general, I think it could go three directions, as described below the tables.


How might this play out?

Scenario 1: Trust Increases
It is possible that trust in employees and experts could increase, as more of them become active in social media, and the average consumer interacts with more brand employees. In such a scenario, having more experiences with employees and experts would increase the ability of consumers to recall such interactions, and, if they are positive, increase trust. However, I expect this to be the least likely outcome.

Scenario 2: Trust Decreases
As more brands empower more employees as advocates in social media, many brands will take the approach of simply asking employees to parrot marketer-crafted messages. Over time, this approach may cause trust in those employees to decline. At the very least, consumers may become desensitized to marketing messages distributed through employees and experts. It really all depends on the execution, but I guarantee that many Marketers will take the easy path, and abuse the existing trust that consumers have in employees and experts. Will that cause overall trust to decline across the market? We’ll see.

Scenario 3: Trust Holds Steady
Most likely, the degree to which consumers trust employees and experts will remain relatively constant.

Of course, we need to remember that trust in employees or experts or “someone like me” is not the same thing as trust in social media, which continues to increase in past years. So let us not confuse the two. There is overlap, but they are not the same.

How do you think this will play out?

Thanks to Constantin Basturea creating these tables. He also co-authored two of the chapters in our book on employee advocacy.

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