2018 Edelman Barometer: No Trust in Social But Still in Tech

Someone reading the 2018 Trust Barometer might think its findings are bad news for the tech sector.

Every year, the PR agency Edelman conducts research in 28 countries asking 33,000 people about who they trust and who they turn to for reliable information.

This time, the first in 18 years, media was rated the least trusted institution following to a general lack of faith in “search and social”. Over 30% of respondents don’t believe that “social media is a force for good in society”.

In Britain, 63% of the people surveyed think social media companies “are not transparent enough”, while 62% are concerned that these “will sell their personal data without them knowing”. Respondents (64%) also worry about social media companies not being sufficiently regulated.

At first glance, we would think this trend is going to make the life of tech companies difficult.  After all, the wave of distrust could spill over. It is easy for the general public to put social media outfits and technology companies into the same basket.

No need to feel nervous yet, my fellow techies.

Technology continued to score as the most trusted industry sector (75%), ahead of education (70%) and professional services (54%).

Also, the survey has identified a general desire for experts and knowledge. Experts have regained credibility, with 62% of respondents rating technical experts as extremely or very credible (+3 y-to-y). CEOs registered the highest increase (+14), followed by journalists with +13 (traditional media journalists that is…) and board of directors (+10).

As Edelman’s President and CEO Richard Edelman pointed out, “we observe a desire for experts and interest in knowledge. A real search for credibility”.

This is good news for those of us advising clients on their digital transformation.

We might not end up being thrown into the social media caldron after all…

The Edelman Barometer results have made me think of the responsibilities we have towards our clients who trust us to help them change their businesses with technology


  • Take away that fear. I am sure many of us have been in situations where the client has expressed an interest in a new technology and wants to explore how it is going to change their business. After a first wave of excitement, comes a pause filled with fear. It is our role to lead them through this. Make them understand that it’s about taking one step at a time, involving the right stakeholders in order to avoid high levels of resistance and applying the new technology to projects that really matter. There is a reason why pilots are often carried out in health & safety first.
  • Hang in there. I must admit, patience has never been a great virtue of mine. Once I get excited about a new technology and understand how much easier it could make our lives, I want to go for it…. But ironically, in tech I had to learn patience. You have to talk to the people you are advising, again and again and… hang in there. Then, all of a sudden, what used to be the domain of geeks takes centre stage. Like blockchain these days. There is great interest among the public and some really exciting projects out there… about revolutionising shipping, the food industry, the telecom sector, government….
  • It’s personal. You must have noticed it in your conversations, for some of our clients it has become personal. They know technology is going to change their profession beyond recognition and don’t want to be left behind. This is particularly true in sectors like accounting and legal services. That’s why they want to pick our brains about the skills they need to acquire, the courses they should follow, the projects they should get on. Be there for them and listen. You want to be remembered as the one who helped me start the journey.



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