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 friend’s 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 friend’s 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” means?  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 a 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 friend’s 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%.