Trendy or Trustworthy?: Strong Platforms Choose Trust

June 16, 2020  •  Marketing Strategy

You work hard to build an audience via social media. Then, you see a post on another account that fills you with uncertainty. It’s loud, obnoxious, and has 20x the engagement of your last upload. This presents you with a dilemma.

Which do you want, to become trendy or trustworthy?

It’s Not What It Seems

If you’ve spent more than 30 seconds on social media, you’ve seen it. Maybe it’s a perfectly angled selfie. Maybe it’s an idyllic landscape or gourmet meal in a fancy restaurant. In whatever form, social media is full of images of other people’s lives. But not just any life—a more attractive life. A more successful story.

The social media age is the era of the truly unlikely celebrity. Take PewDiePie, for instance. The Swedish YouTube star got his start posting videos of himself playing video games. That’s it. Today, he has over 104 million subscribers and a self-reported net worth of $25 million.

Over on Instagram, so-called “influencers” can charge thousands of dollars to post on behalf of another brand. The more followers you have, the more you can charge. This influencer culture has filtered down to the way ordinary people present their lives online. Millions of people mimic the tactics of successful social media personalities. You see their pictures every day.

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Except, things are not what they always seem. In the pursuit of fame and wealth, many wannabe influencers pad their follower numbers with fake accounts. Brands that promote via these accounts effectively pay for promotions to fake people. The problem is so large that cybersecurity firm Cheq projected these fake followers cost brands $1.3 billion in 2019.

It appears that social media marketing can be misleading at best. But you don’t have to mislead anyone to succeed in building a platform. In fact, you need to do the opposite.

Follow the Trusted Path

Social media fads and other phenomena will rise and fall, while you systematically build trust with an audience who has real problems, that you’re the right person to solve. With every solution, you earn an extra layer of trust. That trust compounds, forming a rock-solid foundation for your long-term legacy, and building your platform into a profitable business.

The fad is starting to fade, as more social media “influencers” come forward with stories about the hyped-up lifestyle they’re living that doesn’t pay the bills, or keep money in the bank.

Sure, being trendy is still an option. The success stories are so wildly successful that for every Kylie Jenner there are ten thousand wannabes who will never make it that far.

Here are three reminders to help you avoid the next social media fad and stay the trustworthy course:

  1. Focus on problem-solving. “Influencer” culture is largely designed to generate one emotion: envy. And envy is ultimately a path to unhappiness. If you solve problems and add value to people’s lives, you will build trust and loyalty.
  2. Quality, not quantity. An email subscriber is 15 times more likely to become a customer than a social media follower. This means 100 email subscribers are worth more than 1,000 followers. Spend your time accordingly.
  3. Be authentic. When envy reigns, imitation follows. Why copy what thousands of other people are doing when you can stand out from the noise with the most original strategy possible: be yourself.

The fad is starting to fade, as more social media “influencers” come forward with stories about the hyped-up lifestyle they’re living that doesn’t pay the bills, or keep money in the bank. If you choose the trusted path, know that you’re doing your part to make the world a much better place.

About John Meese

John leads a team focused on simplifying online marketing for professionals as the Dean of Platform University and lives in Columbia, Tennessee, with his wife and three beautiful children. You won't find him on social media, but you can connect to him personally on his blog: