Trustworthiness. Socially speaking, of course.

I wrote a post last week about trust that was prompted by a study I had read earlier in the week.  This study suggested a causal relationship between CEOs’ and other top business executives’ personal participation in social media and the perception of trustworthiness of them and their companies.

I was skeptical.

So, I decided to do my own (equally scientific) research.  I started with The Temkin Group’s 2012 Trust Ratings.  This survey polled 10,000 U.S. customers of 208 companies across multiple industries, reporting the top twenty and bottom twenty companies.

I took a look at the top sixteen distinct logos, their CEO by title and searched for social web presence of each.  I focus on twitter and blogs in this search.  I didn’t look at whether any chief executives where engaging in customer dialog on Facebook fan pages, owned media or other such community forums.  In my search, I did find video clips of several executives on YouTube.  But, they were all news clips or other such media, not what I would call personal engagement.

Also of note, I did find a reference to two blog posts on USA Today from 2009 by Hyatt’s head, Mark Hoplamazian.  But when I clicked through to the USA Today site, the posts were not there.  I also found this recent YouTube clip on CVS’s corporate social responsibility report posted last week (I was viewer number five).  But I’m pretty sure @fartmagic is not the twitter handle for the head of this $97b company.

So, do tweets equal trust?  You decide.

16 of the Most Trustworthy Companies


  1. Good call – I share the skepticism. It's said that actions speak louder than words and I'm inclined to think that the perceived trustworthiness revealed in the Temkin research has far more to do with how companies (and their officers) behave than what they say (or Tweet).

    Given the dichotomy of the results it would be interesting to learn what factors influence people's trust of 'studies', and why you (and I) lay greater store by Mr Temkin's work!

  2. Tweets do not necessarily equal trust, but being active in the social sphere definitely adds credibility to a business. I don't care how big or small a business is, I'm more likely to use a their service if I can see that they are willing to engage customers via social media (be it Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

  3. Guy, I think the answer to your last question rests in your comment above. That is that we trust Temkin because of what he's done, the work he's delivered over a period of time that has proven out tobe of value, sound and reliable. So, based on that earned reputation through action, new research from him is deemed trustworthy based on historical performance.

  4. Jason, isn't it more about actions; doing what you say rather than what you say,and even less so where you say it. You're clearly a "social customer". But you are still in the vast minority. And so, you would view the list of companies here less trustworthy? Also remember, this study was not talking about companies or brands engaging with customers, it was specifically trying to correlate CEO personal social media presence with company or brand trustworthiness. Thanks for the comment

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