Corporate Twittering increases consumer trust, but many don’t want companies to listen to them


A few days ago I asked the question How much do people want to know their conversations are being monitored?, given how brands such as Gatorade boast about how well they listen to online conversations. As it happens, someone has an answer.

Fleishman-Hillard has just released their Digital Influence Index report for 2010, with a wide range of interesting research and conclusions.


Source: Fleishman Hillard

The results above squarely address my question, with in fact a significant proportion of Europeans not comfortable being monitored, despite their conversations being in the public domain. Chinese and Japanese are the happiest to feel listened to. A hefty proportion of people across most countries feel that monitoring is just for show and is unlikely to result in any action (and they’re probably right in most cases).


Source: Fleishman Hillard

Taking a different slant, Corporate microblogging (primarily on Twitter in Western countries) overall has a significant positive impact on trust. This relates to the broader trend of reputation shifting from companies to individuals. Having a personal, human voice engenders trust, and indeed the fact of trusting individuals to Twitter on the organization’s behalf makes them more trustworthy themselves.


Source: Fleishman Hillard

One of the other interesting aspects of the report was its research into the role of the internet in influencing decisions. Across countries, the vast majority of people use the internet to compare options, as well as in many other aspects of their personal decision-making process. Every company must do what they can to be present and visible on the web when this research is being done by consumers.

  • Ross,
    Thanks for sharing this piece of research, interesting and informative.
    My take on it is that people want to be heard and when not so, go outside.
    I wonder if they are framing the statements and pitch right? If one is to comain, likely to be rejected. However, restating an issue as an opportunity to improve is more likely to be listened to. The ones that do this successfully are busy implementing their ideas and are not represented in this data. This should be taken into account to balance the perspective and interpretation of the research.
    Tweeting as Metaphorage

  • Thanks Arthur!
    These are consumer perspectives, and represent the vast diversity of humanity. It doesn’t surprise me that a fair proportion consider listening to what they think of as their personal conversations is intrusive. The people we tend to know would think of it more as an opportunity to be heard.
    A minority of companies are putting what they hear to good use, including creating value for their customers, though many haven’t got that far. Though even so that doesn’t mean people perceive it that way.

  • Ross,
    Sorry it took so long to respond again. Have been traveling in Vietnam hosting 51 executives on a study tour.
    Many years ago I managed what was called “Consumer sevices” (unfortunately referred to as the complaints department internally by those who did not understand the value of shared knowledge) We collated about 11,000 contacts per year about our products from our consumers. We mined this data for trends and patterns and used it to drive improvements. Later, (early 1990’s) we opened it up more with a toll free call and call centre and the numbers of contacts went up by 10 times. Extremely valuable information and a great way to build relationships with external stakeholders, even turn around some who had a negative experience.
    Systems to “hear” internal feedback are (in my experience) far less well implemented. Some organisations feel they need to be seen to be listening, but in reality they don’t act on the feedback or pay it lip service. Mechanisms such as climate surveys and also the old style suggestions box can be powerful… However, without being acted upon these can do more damage than good. If you ask people to tell you how to improve you need to be prepard to act on what you hear. If ask and then sweep it under the carpet, you destroy any trust and relationships you had – reducing loyalty and morale. In such cases it just becomes a political game.
    Listening combined with action can provide very powerful synergies to build an inclusive culture and this can be further developed through genuine support (NOT control) of forums, focus groups, COP’s and interest groups. Here the issues and optins for improvement can be openly discussed and even implemented through people who care. The smart compoanies use this to drive their strategic plans and not the other way round.
    Arthur (Tweeting as Metaphorage)