Building Trust in Real and Virtual Worlds

Published on 08/02/2023

In an increasingly unpredictable world, faced with the challenges of a sustainable economy and the wavering authority of states, the internet is an opportunity to build popular trust, an unmediated link between everyone. While the network has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, between fake news, commercial predation, and abuse of our data, the picture of its success is blurry.

JIN and Opinion Act are two historic players in digital communication, public relations, and community studies. We are also, above all, passionate about a free and useful internet at the service of the citizen-consumer.

We believe that in the face of the challenge of trust, community is the solution to reconnect lost ties. This is why we have decided to come together, as founders, to address this issue in both real and virtual worlds.

It is now our common mission to support our customers, companies, brands and managers who wish to build lasting trust with their clients, employees and investors by relying on community ecosystems. Understanding the dynamics of exchanges with humility is the way to better interact and exert a positive influence that is relevant, transparent and committed. We also want to guide our customers towards the new opportunities available to them as the omnipotence of closed platforms is being challenged, and Web3 offers access to unexplored territories.

We have the ambition of an integrated consulting offer, from the analysis of conversational data to on and offline public relations, through digital marketing and content management. We want to rebuild trust based on a detailed understanding of expectations and observation of the effective impact of our actions.

Considering this, from now on, community membership is no longer bought, but earned. We propose to make our customers trusted referents.

What is your definition of influence? What is an influencer strategy?

Influence is the ability to cause a change in others’ opinions or actions. For us, influence is inseparable from the notion of trust. When we trust a voice, it is then that it can influence us. Historically, influence was exerted by public speech or rumor. Then, following the invention of the printing press and public education, the written media made it possible to greatly amplify the power of influence.

However, this remained concentrated in the hands of a handful of powerful people, whether in a political, media, intellectual or artistic domain. The arrival of the smartphone and social networks has turned the traditional mechanism of influence upside down. Today, everyone has a tool that potentially allows them to design and broadcast their message to the whole world in their pocket.

As a matter of fact, you can get informed (and misinformed), film yourself, edit your video, then broadcast it to billions of people on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, all for free, simply using a smartphone. As we all spend so much of our daily lives online, the power to influence has never been more accessible.

This revolution brings its fair share of challenges for entities that need to influence in order to prosper, or even survive. Whether they are governments, institutions or brands, they are in competition with as many issuers as there are users publishing content on social networks. Worse, polls show that these public entities suffer from a lack of trust from the public compared to voices deemed closer and more authentic, those of the famous “influencers”.

Who are these influencers? These are people who have acquired a mastery of social media, whose message resonates with thousands, even millions of individuals, and who have thus built a community of followers.

Sometimes, authority figures of the past have been able to attain the status of online influencer: journalists, political decision-makers, leaders, many are those who have been able to adopt social platforms to create their own broadcasting channel, bypass the traditional media filter. The boundaries with new types of influencers, whether they are life coaches, professional video game players, new technology testers or DIY experts are blurred. Today, they all enjoy a platform giving them the ability to reach and influence a wide audience.

Therefore, the strategy of influence is based on two levers. The first is to engage in relevant dialogue with the communities. The second consists of identifying and then reaching reliable influencers to relay our messages and thus achieve our objectives: generating sales, improving one's reputation, having a petition signed, obtaining votes or donations. This requires meticulous research conducted with advanced technological tools to find influencers whose editorial line, style and audience demographics are compatible with ours. Often, influence strategies rely on delivering messages to radically different stakeholders, which therefore requires activating different types of channels and influencers.

An influence strategy is successful when it is possible to prove, following the deployment of a campaign, that the messages have indeed caused the desired changes in opinion and actions. This can be measured qualitatively and quantitatively, with surveys, or simply by analyzing changes in traffic, subscriptions, or, of course, sales.

To influence, organizations must be connected to their communities directly, but also through this network of allies, the influencers.

This is a condition of dialogue, but soon also with Web3 and its new models, to share power with them in a new economy of ownership.

Should we distinguish organic influence from monetized influence? The “professional” influencers of the “product” influencers?

In a society governed by recommendations, companies must align authentic allies, beyond paid speaking engagements. Often, a complete influence strategy will combine the two models: influencers from the professional world, also called B2B, who follow and comment on brands or organizations, with whom we oversee the long-term relationship. They have a job, and they owe their status as influencers to their widely recognized expertise within the networks. Alternatively, paid influencers consider their influencer activity as a livelihood. This does not prevent them from being selective about the brands and products they decide to promote.

The most credible influencers owe their legitimacy to a certain authenticity built over time with their community, and advertising in spite of their values ​​would be seen as a betrayal to their audience.

Is there a positive and virtuous influence VS a negative and harmful influence?

Absolutely, it is even one of the challenges of our time. We see it in the United States, but also in Russian propaganda: empires of harmful influence have been created around the manipulation of facts and the dissemination of false information, the infamous “fake news”. These can tilt elections, aggravate the bipolarity of opinion, and favor the rise of extreme stances and conspiracy theories. Often, this negative influence undermines trust in science and in democratic institutions. It is therefore essential to oppose it with a positive influence whose characteristics are transparency, factual rigor, courage, and benevolence, in order to restore its social utility.

Hence the importance of Web3 and its promises of decentralization and authenticity.

Faced with the failure of the GAFAMs to offer spaces for positive influence, there is a challenge in building plurality outside the Big Tech giants on digital channels, precisely in allowing trust (and therefore positive influence) to come back.

JIN Paris
General Manager Group