Trust: At the Speed of Social Media

By January 9, 2013Millennial

Click. A picture of an inappropriate act gets posted on Facebook or Google +.

Tweet. A tasteless gesture gains wider attention through Twitter.

Trust at the Speed of Social Media

Today, more than ever, there is transparency in words and actions. It may not always be wanted, but the communication channels are wide open and available to reach large groups of judges and juries very quickly… almost at the speed of light. It is the new, new transparency, enabled by social media.

Transparency - Social Media

The New Transparency Equation

None of this is new, although some people seem to be adjusting to the new transparency facts.

Personally, I never like the word transparent. It seems so flimsy; something high-priced people say. It has become bureaucratic-speak or position talking points. With social media, transparency turns into immediate accountability, which is what it should be.

As Generation Y or Millennials grow in workplace presence, this new definition of transparency (Transparency = Accountability) is a reality. It goes without really being said that Millennials are tech-savvy and are unafraid to use their social media astuteness when situations demand it. It rightly heightens the accountability factor in the delivery and keeping of trust.

The Long and Short of the New, New Transparency

While the new reality of transparency has lengthened some timelines, it has shortened others. Let’s look at the new timetables.

Shorter time to tell. With the availability of many different channels of immediacy, show-and-tell covers a broad audience in a very quick time. It is the multiplier-effect multiplied. Social networks of thousands are multiplied with each share, tweet, plus, or like. Indiscretions, bad service, or inappropriate actions are quickly heard, seen, and spread.

The race to expose untrustworthy actions and words is on, always on.

Shorter time to discover. With the availability of these social media channels, it is also easy to discover. Through Google or Bing searches, we uncover a lot about individuals and groups. All generations may have read stories of about how someone lost a job opportunity or a college admission because of their inappropriate postings, yet they still happen. Within 5 to 15 minutes, people can discover a great deal about almost anyone.

Trust inspections are at our fingertips.

Longer time to repair. When a bad choice, word, or action is done, the presence of the mistake or wrongdoing will live for longer periods of time. It is owned by the web, and its life seems to have no end. Trying to repair the damage done may never fully happen. Maybe it shouldn’t. Either way, there is a longer shelf-life to bad deeds.

Of course, there is a danger here, too. If someone is wrongly accused, the situation takes on a whole new level of recovery and despair.

Distrust lingers, as information stays entrenched in various sites and images.

Longer time for redemption. While repairing a situation includes trying to remove or bury the information, redemption involves forgiveness, acceptance, and better ways of living. Gaining redemption will be more challenging, as there are more people who know what happened and the experiences remain longer in the public domain. Redemption will, no doubt, take longer, if ever be fully achieved.

Redemptive paths get more challenging to climb, and earning trust again remains elusive.

Trust Is a Philosophy

Trust is a core principle, and it never diminishes. If anything, it needs to be polished and used in a trust activist manner. In other words, trust is not only a principle; it is a philosophy to living and leading – each and every minute.

As new generations grow in presence, we need to raise our trust levels in so many more ways. Join me in a discussion of this in a Trust Across America (Voice America) broadcast on Wednesday, January 16, 11:00 AM Central Time. I will be joined by Randy Conley, Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies, and a panel of leaders and millennials.

What role does trust play in this new generation? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • […] Mertz, of Thin Difference shares Trust: At the Speed of Social Media.   As Generation Y or Millennials grow in workplace presence, this new definition of transparency […]

  • Deone Higgs says:

    Very well stated, Jon!

    I tell my younger brothers this all the time, “Be mindful of what you are sending over the cyber waves Once you push send, it’s out there. The internet will not forgive you and erase what you didn’t mean to say.”

    I absolutely loved this line here… “The race to expose untrustworthy actions and words is on, always on.” I agree with you wholeheartedly on this, my friend. Someone is always looking in our direction, and not everyone who is looking has the best for us in mind. We must consistently think, and be certain before we push publish, send, or tweet.

    Great post, mate!

    • Jon M says:

      Thanks, Deon, and great advice you are giving your younger brother! I tell my sons this, too, and I usually get a roll of their eyes…. I keep telling them though!

      Appreciate your insights! Jon

  • Randy Conley says:

    Well said Jon, and many great points from the previous comments. The immediacy of social media communication places an even greater importance on the responsibility (I prefer that to the word accountability) and authenticity of the message sender. In this day and age your social media activity IS your brand reputation. There isn’t much room for careless communication.
    I hope folks will join us for your radio segment. It’s going to be a good one!

    • Jon M says:

      Thanks, Randy, and I am very excited that you are joining us in this conversation. A great group is getting together!

      The immediacy element is a positive one, as I believe it makes us even more attuned to the role of trust in what we do and say. I look forward to learning more on your insights of responsibility vs. accountability. I can make an educated guess, but look forward to that being a part of our conversation next week.

      Thanks again! Jon

  • Great post Jon! Buddha said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. Social media has sped that up exponentially!

  • suzie carr says:

    I tweet all day long and have made the mistake of tweeting something that i didn’t think through enough. It’s hard ot erase what has been posted. Everything moves at lightening speed. The key here, as you illustrated, is genuinity is key in social networking. If we are cognizant, repsonsible, and thoughtful with our approach, trust has a beautiful chance of building. As long as we’re acting withing our comfort zone and with high standards, we’ve got nothing to fear. Loved this post. Thanks for sharing it:)

    • Jon M says:

      Well said, Suzie! I like what you said about acting within our comfort zone of high standards. This is one of the vital keys to acting and interacting with trust. Thanks so much for your insights! Jon

  • {PRO}motion Social says:

    Great topic! I happen to fall in the upper end of Gen Y. Trust is a huge factor for my generation. We’ve grown up in such a “Photoshopped, PR-spun, ‘reality’ TV, special-effects-infused” culture that we almost have a sixth sense about authenticity. It’s left us craving the real deal. Our keen sense about what is genuine significantly impacts the way we perceive employers and companies with which we do business. It goes without saying that we long for that in our personal relationships; and our embrace of so many forms of social media is underscored by our expectation for trust. I believe that this expectation shows up in our love for the quirky, not-so-polished things, people and companies we love. We tend to believe what you tell us more if there’s a slight imperfection. It’s a monumental shift in thinking to turn away from the previous thinking that a perfect persona or image establishes credibility and instead turn to a currency of trust and accountability. ~Dana Williams, {PRO}motion Social Media

    • Jon M says:

      Wonderful insights, Dana! I agree with your sentiments…. there needs to be a “quirkiness” or natural feeling to the brand, exchanges, and conversations. It brings out the “realness” in the person and organization. When something doesn’t turn out to match, accountability then is immediately available through social media.

      I am curious on your thoughts on whether or not you believe Millennials are more willing to call out actions that are untrustworthy as compared to other generations?

      Appreciate your time and thoughts! Jon

      • {PRO}motion Social says:

        They are! If nothing else, then by the automatic “permission” given by social media to reach out to whomever we want to whenever we like. If Millennials don’t call you out, they’ll simply walk away and ignore you. Either way is a loss for sharing your message. ~Dana Williams, {PRO}motion Social Media

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