Who do we trust?
It’s a valid question, and one that PR giant Edelman recently tried to answer in their continued survey for measuring their “Trust Barometer”. Their conclusion is…we put no value into our friends or peers opinions anymore.
According to Edelman, you trust your friends and peers WAY less than you did two years ago. The drop from 45% of people saying their friends were credible sources about companies in 2008 compared to 25% in 2010 is substantial. It’s such a dive, that I don’t regret not having any friends and devoting all of my time to this blog.
But for those of you out there with friends and or peers…what happened? So do you really not trust your friends opinions anymore?
Rather than rely on survey data…I prefer to put my eggs in the basket of common sense. No one puts complete credibility into their social networks, and everything is relative. If I’m seeking information about a particular product, obviously I’m going to weigh different answers by the relevancy of who is giving their opinion. Let’s say you’re a regular reader of this blog…that puts me in your “social network”. If you ask me about blogging platforms and the best tools to reach the most people…I can give you solid advice. If you ask me what restaurant you should take your wife for her birthday, my opinion means nothing.
So how can you answer the survey?
The curse of this survey is the choice of wording and lack of follow up questions.
There are no set standard terms for what a “friend or peer” mean? Were they speaking about Facebook friends, Twitter, LinkedIn, coworkers? A Facebook “friend” is a title, nothing more. Being a “friend on Facebook” has no association with being a true friend or valued confidant. No more than a Twitter “follower” is an actual follower of mine as if I’m leading some rapidly expanding cult. As they explain in the study the fact that most social networks are becoming more open, may decrease what they’re defining as “trust”.
But is this true. Search on your Twitter stream and you can count the number of peers seeking answers and opinions left and right. LinkedIn has an entire portal dedicated to asking strangers for opinions and answering questions. So how can we devalue our friends opinion so much?
Well, at least it’s not all bad news…although your friends have all turned lousy and become half as trustworthy for information as they once were…CEO’s are climbing back. And great to see with all of this awesome economic news that financial analysts are booming at 52%.
Here’s the breakdown of the Trust Barometer: (NOTE: I’m only focusing on actual people, not mediums like TV / radio)
- CEO’s: 26% (increase)
- Government officials 27% (increase)
- Financial/industry analyst 52% (increase)
- NGO representative 44% (increase)
- Academic experts 64% (increase)
- Company employees (decrease 28%)
- Friends / Peer 25% (decrease)
Really? News and information about a company coming from the mouth of a CEO or a Government Official is MORE trustworthy than if it came from a friend or a peer. Am I the only one who feels like I’m taking crazy pills? Forgive my skepticism.
Whether it’s deserved or not, Vince the Sham Wow guy has better credibility than most CEO’s and Government officials these days.
My instinctual response to these results are that they are utter nonsense. As I wrote in Most Twitter Statistics Are Worthless…I take 90% of social media stats beyond number of users with a grain of salt. Otherwise every spokesperson should be an Academic Expert.
As easy as these number are to argue, I don’t want to waste valuable reader attention on trashing every aspect of a survey. The individual numbers may be inaccurate but the overall theme is not.
We’re a skeptical bunch when it comes to products and companies.
Question: So How To You Get Consumers To Trust You?
Answer: You Don’t. Trust is not something you can do…it’s given to you after you earn it.
Very few products have the luxury of a spokesperson that can sell the product no matter what it is (I.E. Michael Jordan in 1992. I would have bought cardboard shoes as long as “Air Jordan” was on it). To reach your audience and penetrate this wall of skepticism, you’re going to have to spread a variety of information across multiple avenues. Hmmm, sounds like a job for social media.
- Focus on results. It’s hard to argue with facts. If your product is good, show some statistics to back them up
- Always be focused on creating value, with every aspect of your marketing
- Focus on end results, not features. What emotions can you connect with?
- Build communities of enthusiasts. Rather than trying to cast a wide net, house your cats under one roof with a community they can interact with other customers
- Rather than posting everything about you, you you…promote some of your customers and how they are succeeding with your products
- Constantly seek open feedback…and publish how you’re learning and improving
- Stay consistent. Speak consistently across social media platforms
Although these numbers should turn marketers on their head, I say be resilient. My trust barometer with my friends may only be at 25%…but my trust barometer for most social media surveys is around 10%.
This is DAY 8 of my “28 Day Blogging Challenge“
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Scott S. Bishop is editor for Real Time Marketer and a marketing strategist with a specialty in social media. He is an avid blogger and active across the net. He is @thescottbishop on Twitter