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social media trust equation

At the Driving Sale Executive Summit I had the opportunity to meet Chris Brogan and to hear him speak on social media trends.

I received a free copy of his book Trust Agents and have been reading it in between flights and work and it's really a great resource to focus your thought on social media strategies.

The book is a must read for anyone in your organization tasked with managing your social media campaigns.

On Page 79, Chris cites a "Trust Equation" created by the authors of a book called "The Trusted Advisor" which reads like this:

Trust = (Credibility x Reliability x Intimacy) / Self Orientation

The formula stuck out in my mind because it demonstrates the relationship of "self promotion" (S) in creating trust with the social community. For those of you who loved math, Self Orientation is in the denominator of the fraction. The higher this number goes, the lower your trust "result".

This formula should be taped on the computers that are used by your employees that manage your Twitter, Facebook or blogs. Remind your social media managers that too much self promotion will weaken the net effect of their social media efforts.

Social Media Topics That Can Build Trust

Things that build creditability
  • posting manufacturer recalls and safety warnings
  • acknowledging where your dealership has failed and how you fixed the problem
  • admitting when your competitors have done something better than you
  • pointing out third party sources than can help the members of your social community
Things that can build Reliability
  • provide car service tips for things that customers can do themselves
  • warn customers about extended warranty scams via phone or postcard
  • respond to people who post on your social media accounts promptly - without a pitch
  • provide online self-service documents that can help answer common questions
Things that can build Intimacy
  • Post a story of an employee winning a customer service contest and their trip to Hawaii
  • Share you staff's work in the community or with non-profit organizations
  • Post videos of your customers getting delivery on their cars
Everyone needs to create a list of things that they can do in each of these three categories. Inspect what you are posting to see where your social media posts fall.

If the last paragraph of every blog post is a reminder of how great you are or how wonderful your organization delivers "the goods", then you'll flunk social media math. Review your posts and see how many times you reference your company in a blog post or in a response/comment. Do the math.

If you have other suggestions on what dealers can write about to build trust, please share them.

Brian Pasch

Views: 216

Tags: chrisbrogan, socialmediamath, trust, trustagents


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Comment by Ryan Gerardi on November 24, 2009 at 2:08pm
Yes, good ideas. Getting customers on camera has such mixed results. The dealership really has to know what it's doing to get a good quality video result from customers. Maybe this is something digital lot managers could pursue in addition to picture-taking and stickers.

Some dealers and auto professionals will argue that publishing non-related information, and I mean completely off topic, generates more response and activity from people online. And clearly you can see that people do respond to this with their local dealerships. But people also respond to brand-specific stuff too, typically through phone calls and online inquiries. So while one can legitimately argue that building non-related conversation can eventually lead to more business, publishing content that is borderline self-promotion leads to direct and immediate business, although at the cost of shying away others.

Publishing traditional car dealer TV commercials in social media is almost undoubtedly not the way to go. Which makes me wonder if having them on TV has ever been the way to go. I wonder what will happen when dealers bring their social media advertising techniques to mass media.
Comment by Brian Pasch on November 24, 2009 at 2:31am
@Ryan It seems that you are aware of conscience of doing too much self-promotion so you are ahead of the game. Just be careful when you promote cars and their features and resources that its done in balance.

If you look at your Facebook or Twitter posts and it looks like an or Consumer Reports feed of car reviews and model highlights it ,may not be brand enhancing. Meaning, it may not be what you want to brand yourself as being. It likely is not what they are expecting. Too much and you will not develop the intimacy part of the equation.

Maybe a change could be to add video links of actually customers telling their story about the features they like that made them purchase a particular car. This changes to tone 180 degrees and leverages peer reviews to your advantage.
Comment by Ryan Gerardi on November 23, 2009 at 10:59am
Brian that's a highly useful formula. As one who represents multiple dealerships in Social Media, I find it challenging to avoid self-promotion, meaning, promoting the dealers. We put most emphasis on the autos themselves (the commodities) and on the features and capabilities of their online resources. In other words, educating visitors on how certain forms work and what to expect, or the purpose of micro sites like their Facebook page and Squidoo Lenses, etc. Would you argue that this is too much "S" or acceptable forms of it?

Thank you for sharing this.
Comment by Eric Miltsch on November 23, 2009 at 8:24am

Chris's book touches so may points in such a direct, conversational tone; the way in which his messages are communicated are excellent examples of how to develop that trust.

Tom White recently mentioned a point worth repeating - which ties the trust building back to the showroom.

If the front-end of the message tries to build the credibility, reliability and intimacy - the message needs to be backed-up with the support of the salespeople and staff within the dealership.

Its analogous to driving a ton of traffic to a site with a poor user-interface; the initial effort will be wasted and the opportunities lost.

Nice post Brian...def. recommend reading this book as well.


Comment by Jereme Erlandson on November 23, 2009 at 8:09am

Great piece here! And I will look into this book as well. As the "reputation and social media manager" at a dealer it is sometimes harder than one would think of to come up with ideas to write/tweet/blog about or so on... And these are the actual fundamentals of it. Its not a cut and paste.. I have said it before. But I do believe you have as well.. You need to engage the customer outside of the "sale." I try to connect with people in a way so that when they do think of our brand it is us they think of... The easy part of my job is posting our ads and responding to review sites. The hard part.. Coming up with content that people actually want to read or hear about. Your list has giving me more things to consider and I thank you for that.
Comment by Brian Pasch on November 23, 2009 at 7:17am
Ken, please feel free to use anything I post on ADM.
Comment by Brian Pasch on November 23, 2009 at 7:16am
It's very easy reading and has helped me to review my online actions and trajectory. It's a valuable education for anyone who is working to build their business online.
Comment by William Bryant on November 23, 2009 at 7:03am
I've been meaning to read this book... Thanks Brian for the review, I just added it to my Audible library so I can start listening to it tonight.

We've definitely seen this happen in our dealership.
Comment by Ken Gibson on November 23, 2009 at 6:59am
I agree with Ralph and Tom. Working every day with dealers on social media marketing, and doing monthly workshops at CIADA, I see the need to guide personnel on the shift in mindset that Brian has described. Brian, I appreciate the suggestions included, and if you don't mind we'll incorporate them in our coaching.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 22, 2009 at 2:02pm
Brian's post hits a bull's eye if your target is to sell more cars based on the value your dealership offers, rather winning business with the lowest price. I have personally been working on dealership implementations of social media marketing and reputation management for over 2 years now, and I can attest to the Chris Brogan cited formula as being the real deal. When a dealer gets people blogging about their own experiences at the dealership, combined with a few 5 star reviews from DealerRater, and then publishes a story about a stray dog that the people at the dealership adopt because it keeps the racoons away from damaging customer service vehicles at night... Well, that when we see customers leaving other dealerships to travel out of their way to do business at the dealership with the social media marketing program... Why? Because of the formula posted above by Brian, cited in his book by Chris Brogan, which originally appeared in the book "The Trusted Adviser".

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