Edelman Trust Barometer 2018

Screen-Shot-2018-01-22-at-22.28.58-768x373The World Economic Forum is Davos is always exciting. While economic and political elites are discussing what should be on the business and government agenda for 2018, the global communications community looks towards the results of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer.

Now in its 18th year, the barometer, which surveyed more than 33,000 adults across 28 countries, showed a big drop in trust. As a professional communicator my main takeaway is the increased trust in CEOs (first year in a long time!) and the decreased trust in “a person like you”. The latter is pretty big news, seeing as peer-to-peer communications had been the most trusted form of communication in recent years. Maybe we have realized we are living too much in echo chambers.

Social media companies have also lost trust, with 70% of respondents agreeing that they do not do enough to prevent unethical behaviors. With more than 30% of those surveyed believing that social media is not good for society it will be interesting where this opinion takes us and if the big tech companies will start to do some rethinking about their responsibilities to society.

It seems business is now expected to be an agent of change. Nearly two-thirds say that they would like CEOs to take the lead on policy change instead of waiting for government. As Edelman says: “There are new expectations of corporate leaders. Nearly 7 in 10 respondents say that building trust is the No. 1 job for CEOs, ahead of high-quality products and services.”

What’s the reality in your company? Have you noticed a decline in peer-to-peer communication? How can we tackle disinformation within companies? And what can communicators do to empower CEOs to become agents of change in today’s society?


You can read the full report here.

It’s time for more social savvy CEOs

A recent study from showed that the leaders of today’s most powerful companies (aka Fortune 500) still see social media as a non-necessity in their leadership toolkit. In fact, 61% have no social media presence whatsoever.



This is totally anti-cyclical to consumers. Today there are more than 3 billion people on the internet and 2 billion are active social media users. We spend almost 3 hours online a day and 74% of consumers rely on social media to make buying decisions. So if social media is where your customers are, why aren’t there more CEOs active on social platforms?

Why Go Social?

The business of business are relationships. Relationships are inherently social. And leadership in the 21st century is all about strong communication. Social media provides multiple benefits for CEOs: it creates emotional connections, builds relationships and demonstrates innovation. Little side benefit: all of these increase leadership effectiveness.

A recent Weber Shandwick study said that 80% of employees would rather work for a social CEO. And 3 out of 4 consumers said they would be more likely purchase from companies who communicate on social media.

And we should not forget trust. Trust is the foundation for any business to operate. Be it internal or external, trust should be high on any CEO’s priority list. Edelman’s yearly Trust Barometer highlights exactly this. With more people placing trust in their peers and company employees than CEOs, social media provides a perfect channel for changing this. In today’s media landscape, there needs to be a move from just traditional media to a platform where CEOs can directly interact with stakeholders and customers. Richard Edelman defined the new role of the CEO to be the “Chief Engagement Officer”. A CEO that has a social profile can result in better communication, more transparency, higher employee morale and an improved brand image. By sharing stories, vision and values, the CEO moves from being just a business figure to a real person – resulting not only in greater visibility and influence, but also in more trust.

So Many More Opportunities’s study showed that those CEOs who are “active” on social media, Linkedin and Twitter were the preferred platforms of choice, although most of them were less active on the latter. With so much happening in the social media space, it will be interesting to see when executives will realize the benefits of exploring  other platforms.  Such as visual platforms like Instagram or YouTube. Personally, I also strongly believe that messaging and streaming apps will be interesting for CEOs to experiment with as these channels are genuinely social with their feedback mechanisms and their informality.

But when looking at today’s social CEO landscape, all this still lies in a very distant future.

Maybe for now it is sufficient for CEOs take some advice from Sir Richard Branson, who said, “Embracing social media isn’t just a bit of fun, it’s a vital way to communicate, keep your ear to the ground and improve your business.”