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Trust Me.

Did you know there are currently 10 elephants enrolled in painting schools in Thailand, and among the trunks toting paint brushes, the overwhelmingly preferred color is purple?

Having trouble sorting fact from fiction? You’re not alone.

According to the 2010 USC Annenberg Digital Future Study released earlier this week, nearly 80 percent of Web users rely on the Internet as a rolodex for informed reading, but a significantly smaller segment believes the spouted stats are sincere – and those digits are dropping annually. Ten years ago, 55 percent considered the majority of material concrete; in today’s edition that number dropped to 39 percent, a new low for the Digital Future Project.

Even search engines such as Google and Yahoo – traditional stalwarts of online sincerity – have lost some of their luster, dropping 11 percent on the reliability register. But what’s most stimulating (or simply scary) is the significant slide in trust even among websites we choose to visit regularly, a stat which trickled down for the third time in as many years.

If consumer confidence in online information continues to erode, how long do companies have before the lack of faith moves beyond the one medium and infects a brand’s overall believability? This raises the real question of how to win that confidence back and attain the vaunted status of ‘old faithful’.

Solid relationships require true trust – an attribute earned, not owed. The one direction offered by websites, purely pushing information out, isn’t engaging enough to build the requisite rapport needed to create certitude – that requires a two-way dialogue. Dynamic conversations allow consumers to think, test and ultimately interact with a concept; the ability to challenge inspires confidence.

Providing a platform for pondering back and forth is a means for entertaining the elephant in the room, that way we can sort fact from purple propaganda.

Here’s to wishing readers from sea to shining sea a whale of a weekend as we jump out of July and attack August!

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