Touch Creative featured in The Australian, an article exploring the notion of trust in organisations and people. This article was written by Christopher Niesche.

‘Australia is undergoing an implosion of trust in institutions and businesses, and are putting their faith in people instead, says Lewis Shields, who heads up the social media and content marketing agency Touch Creative.

“We’ve got a real problem here, in that people just aren’t trusting the organisations that are meant to instil confidence and belief in their lives,” Shields told the 10th annual Women in Banking & Finance Forum, sponsored by Deutsche Bank and held in Sydney last week.

“Never before have we seen such a decrease in people trusting the fabric of society.” In fact, Australia is in the bottom six of nations in terms of trust loss, says Shields, explaining that while individuals no longer trust institutions and businesses, they do trust individuals: “People are trusting people.”

“Increasingly the role of experts has become much more important to the way we see and shape our lives,” he told the forum, whose theme was ‘Reputation: your most valuable asset?’.

Shields points to survey data that shows academic and financial experts rank highly on trust scales and, interestingly, chief executives have also seen a significant rise in trust over the past year. He says there has been a “huge increase” in brands and organisations seeking his advice on how to create a social-media presence and leverage it, not just for the benefit of the individuals, but also of the organisations they represent.

“What we’re seeing now is there’s an appetite from the general population to connect with people they see as influential experts in their field, and that’s the opportunity for everyone in this room.” Many people are “terrified” of trying to build an online presence because of the publicity about social media going wrong, where people’s reputations are dragged through the mud or they are attacked by internet trolls.

But Shields says it’s not other people who are the worry, but the individuals themselves. Making a mistake on social media isn’t the end of the world and should be an opportunity to learn, he adds. Shields advises against starting an online argument with people who post negative comments or tweets.

“My number one piece of advice for when you’re in a fight-orflight situation with your reputation, or there’s a crisis, is just to chill out and have a think about it,” he says.

“What most people don’t do when there’s a problem like this is to pick up the phone and hopefully resolve it that way.”

It is also useful to create more content, such as tweets, blog posts and Instagram posts, to push the negative comments and content further down the internet search rankings.

At the same time, people should start frequently talking about a topic they are passionate about: “The more you talk about it the more you’ll develop a reputation for being a thought leader.”’