Lynne Johnson on Social Media: Brands Need to Be ‘Trust Agents’

By Blake Gernstetter 


Brands left and right are taking advantage of social media to reach out to audiences and raise their profiles. With so many on board the social media train, how can a brand truly set themselves apart from the crowd? According to Lynne D. Johnson, who’s responsible for content, brand and social media development and strategy as SVP of social media for the Advertising Research Foundation, “Just by having a social media presence, [that] doesn’t make you a brand that people can trust.” Ahead of Johnson’s upcoming Mediabistro Circus panel discussion on how we manage social media, writer Jennifer Pullinger asked her what brands should be doing now to differentiate themselves.


“Now that customer engagement is becoming more common, every brand finds it’s necessary to have a Twitter account or Facebook fan page. But that’s not enough. Just by having a social media presence, [that] doesn’t make you a brand that people can trust. Brands are not only finding that they have to be transparent, but that they also have to be content producers, and well, trust agents. Social media has to be infused across the organization, from the research department, to brand and marketing, to PR, to customer service.

Social media has made it much easier to know who your customers really are and what they really want, so to not share the data across all of these functions puts you at a loss. So standing out isn’t just some clever little Facebook app, or even now an iPad app, but being able to truly connect with your customers, because you know who they really are. That’s why social CRM is the next step in all of this. Being able to respond to your customers in real-time, and helping them solve their problems. Brands need to be able to integrate what they’re doing online with what they’re doing offline. Right now there’s a serious disconnect, but it’s simple to move from listening, to gathering insights, to collaborating on analyzing these insights, to creating real value and a seamless customer experience.”

Lynne Johnson explores “How We Manage Social Media” in her upcoming panel discussion at Mediabistro Circus on May 20 in New York.