An article I came across this week in Fast Company got me to thinking about social media and tourism marketing. It explains the results of a recent Pew Research Center study on social media and technology, with the surprising discovery that online social networks help build trust. According to the study, regular Facebook users are “43% more likely than other Internet users and more than three times as likely as non-Internet users to feel that most people can be trusted.”
Basically, we humans are a trusting bunch. Blame it on our inherent (biological) need to build relationships. While this sounds more like a topic for the self-help aisle, there is science behind the notion. According to the Fast Company article, apparently our bodies release a natural chemical called oxytocin, which is linked to all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings like generosity, empathy and trust. Engaging online helps release this, which in turn makes the individual feel more generous, empathetic and trusting. And the stronger the relationship, the more of this wonder chemical is released. Call it a really positive virtuous cycle.
In addition, the article explains how trust and economic performance are inextricably linked. More trust = more growth. While in many ways this makes sense when you consider the virtuous cycle that this ‘feel good’ chemical can create, the relationship between the two, and the results of the Pew study, indicate that social media might be good for the greater economic picture.
Bringing that back to the DMO level, think about how you could be using social media to build trust. Engaging with your audience certainly helps, and there are so many ways to do this. Whether you’re answering individual questions to retweeting visitor comments to sharing the images and video that your visitors have created, all show that you’re listening and involved.
We’re curious – how are you building trust online? Share your experiences in the comments below.