Posted by: Rachel Baker | November 20, 2014

Building trust in a good cause through social media

Currently, I have been in the midst of a series of social media/communications challenges having to do with a recent social awareness campaign my work just launched. I work for an organization dedicated to improving public education for Oregon’s students. As I read the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, I kept applying it to my situation. Edelman’s three-step approach to “establishing context” and progressing in a positive manner with stakeholders was especially pertinent to my situation.

First, Edelman says we, as the organization, must “seek input” from the community, which in my case could include the students, teachers, and administration of a school – as well as parents, politicians, business owners, my own company’s employees, etc. Essentially, my range of stakeholders is enormous.

Secondly, Edelman encourages advocacy. The campaign needs to have specific goals with tangible outcomes.

Finally, Edelman stresses the importance of continual evaluation. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point of having targets that are measurable. It is important to show progress, report on metrics/analytics, acknowledge weak areas, and recalibrate to better meet goals.

Something I have found, however, is that the public is wary of causes/challenges/campaigns, even if they are for a good cause. So, how can that change?

Thinking beyond my campaign, I looked at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. By having an ordinary person spread the word about the cause via social media, the ALS Association was able to spread the message from one person to that person’s friends, who in turn spread it on to their friends.


  1. Yes, great example with the ALS ice bucket challenge!

    To your point, I am curious as to why the public is wary of causes, challenges, and/or campaigns even if they are for a good cause?

    Is it because they are unfamiliar with the organization / group that is sponsoring / hosting it? Is it due to the lack of motivation to become an active participant? Or are they unsure what exactly is needed from them and they are unsure with what the end result will look like / entail?

    As you pointed out by referencing Edelman, seeking input from one’s user base encourages questions like these to be answered along the way. As dialog becomes more active and two-way, the public is able to feel empowered with making contributions during the cause, challenge, or campaign.

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