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Neuroscientist and author of The Trust Factor, Paul Zak, has spent years studying what builds trust between individuals. His findings are remarkable and yet surprisingly simple. According to Zak, the most important factor at play in gaining trust is our ‘humanness’. When we are real, vulnerable and even fallible, oxytocin is released in the brains of others – a neuro-mechanism humans have used for centuries to determine who we can trust.[1]

This is an important revelation for every leader, professional or brand. For years we have worked hard to project sanitized and corporatized versions of ourselves. Spin doctors and corporate communications departments have tended to carefully craft every message in an effort to ensure communication is predictable, reliable and on-brand.

This approach has well and truly seen its day. In an era of post-truth paradigms, endless marketing, pervasive non-human tech and eroded trust, polished professionalism and corporate spin simply does not stand up to scrutiny.  In place of the impersonal corporate giants of yesterday, consumers today are looking for brands that have an organic personality and act with authenticity.

Years ago, social media well and truly lived up to its name. Platforms which enabled the easy exchange of photos and statuses, these media allowed individual engagement for purely social purposes. The last decade has seen social media evolve into something much more overwhelming, addictive and ultimately lucrative than their original ‘social’ role, especially as their most native users have grown up into their most powerful and profitable consumers.