In my mind there’s a difference between trusting someone on social media and trusting someone in person. Social media takes away body language, vocal inflections and eye contact, which can be key factors in knowing whether to trust someone. It takes a long time for me to trust someone on social media.
When I heard about Steve Rayson’s Trust Formula on social media I was skeptical at first. Trust isn’t something I think can be calculated, it’s just a gut feeling. Even if a person lets you down or comes through for you a certain number of times, I don’t think anyone can say with absolute certainty whether they will or won’t the next time. A formula in a math problem is supposed to give you a definitive answer and with trust I don’t think there is a definitive answer. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes and we sometimes break the trust of people we care about.
However, I believe the elements of Steve Rayson’s Trust Formula are fair requirements for trusting someone on social media. Everyone I trust on social media is knowledgeable about their field. Entertainment Weekly, E! and Rolling Stone are all extremely knowledgeable about the entertainment industry and that’s why I follow them on social media. These brands are helpful in providing me news I can’t get anywhere else and archiving material so I can look it up later. These brands are friendly and inviting too. I have never seen these brands get into disagreements on social media and they’re always willing to help. Nothing about their social media demeanor would make me stop following them. Each of these brands is consistent and reliable in bringing me accurate news or enjoyable critiques of my favorites television shows or music. I know if I go on Facebook or Twitter I am going to find at least one post from each of these brands every single day and most of the time it is content I want to read.
Now for the most contentious part of this formula, self-promotion. I think self-promotion gets a bad reputation on social media. I believe that posts on social media need a purpose and self-promotion is an important purpose. I think well-established brands like Entertainment Weekly and E! can afford to self-promote more than small brands because loyal fans will tolerate it. Having self-promotion be the denominator in this formula is what loses its credibility with me. Some brands have more self-promotion than others, but I don’t think we should base how much we trust them on that.
If you want to put a value on how much you trust someone, I think the Trust Formula is fine the way it is. Nothing needs to be added or subtracted from it. If I was forced to follow a formula for trust, I think this one works fine. I don’t believe trust needs a formula, so it would be difficult to come up with one better than this. But again, If I were creating a formula, mine wouldn’t be nearly as reliant on self-promotion as this one is.