For years, trust in institutions—including government, media, science, and medicine—has declined. The political and social justice turmoil of the past two years has deepened Americans’ mistrust and has many implications for society, policy, and the economy. This isn’t new news, but it is a trend that creates uncertainties.
As “fake news” grows, more people are seeking out better information to rebuild their trust systems. Younger generations especially are seeking new institutions and knowledge sources to curb misinformation.
Professional associations have an opportunity to be a credible source of information, education, and best practices. As an association, you can regularly inform, educate, influence, and persuade attitudes, viewpoints, and behavior that is representative of your entire profession. These communications can shape your members’ attitudes and, at times, the public’s attitude.
Building a culture of trust is what makes a meaningful difference and, with trust, associations can create positive outcomes, be more productive, generate higher-quality education, and increase collaboration. The more satisfied a member is, the more likely they are to renew their membership and invite colleagues to join. It is a win-win for advancing your mission, creating engagement, and increasing your bottom line.
Associations can even be part of spreading good news and be a source of light, where appropriate. Some ways to build trust and positivity include:
- Prioritize authenticity. Share a story from the front lines or record and post a “day in the life” video from your members’ daily work environment. Put your members’ voices and passions front and center.
- Let members be your brand. People present their authentic selves online, and your audience wants to see the same from your organization. Formality and intense sincerity feels forced. Your members can provide nuance and context that traditional brand marketing cannot.
- Recognize excellence. Recognition has a large effect on trust when it is tangible, unexpected, personal, and public. Your awards programs not only celebrate successes, but they inspire others to aim for higher standards through sharing best practices. In addition, awards give your members and their companies’ credibility for their work and profession.
- Make it relatable with video. Using video in your communications can inspire empathy and emotion in a way that other media cannot. In fact, video on your website, social media, and in email creates more page views, higher click-through rates, increases social engagement, and multiples your ROI. And, your audience is more likely to share video content with others and extends your reach.
- Post with intention. There are many platforms for news, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Despite the popularity of a platform, the public has skepticism in news depending on the platform. Your association’s website is most likely to be trusted as an original source of information.
- Stream virtual content. Everyone has adapted to new ways of consumption. Host an Instagram Live fitness workout, create an online watch party, or schedule a virtual coffee conversation. Get creative and make it educational or informal depending on your members’ needs.
- Provide tips to make your members’ jobs easier. This can be tips for a remote work environment, addressing burnout, managing teams, or a topic more specific to job role, function, or industry.
- Offer a fun, free resource. Zoom backgrounds, adult coloring pages, and games or contests are a great way to re-engage your community or drive them to other relevant content on your website.
One of the most highly valued benefits of associations is the delivery of reliable expertise, and building and maintaining your association’s role as a trusted source of information is more critical than ever to advance your important initiatives.
Ande Leslie is in the Marketing and Communication unit at Smithbucklin.