If you want your social media strategy to influence potential customers, you have to get their peers talking about you. Your voice can’t be the only one people hear, and you can’t rely on the endorsements of a few key “influencers.” A new study from Invoke Solutions provides some interesting statistics on the trustworthiness of social media based on who is doing the talking and where the conversations are occurring.
Internet users were asked to rate how much they trusted information provided by different sources on each social media platform. The 3 sources with the highest “trust completely” scores are all communications from friends. At the top is blog posts by people you know, #2 was posts by friends in Facebook, and #3 was a friend’s Twitter stream.
After the word of mouth from friends came the various social media communications methods from brands. This includes company blogs, their posts on Facebook and Twitter, and contributions on various online community forums. The results across each of these were very similar. Few trusted them highly and most felt that they could “neither trust or distrust” them.
People are open to what a company has to say, but trust in them has to be earned. The study shows that consumers are looking for company information in social media: 65% of respondents follow a company on Facebook and a third share new product information and sales promotions with their networks. We saw the perfect example of that with Gap’s social commerce success last week.
The source with the worst scores for “trust completely” and the highest scores for “don’t trust at all” were blogs and Twitter streams from independent bloggers. That is something to think about if your primary social media outreach strategy centers around high-profile “influencers” online.
Bloggers may have an active community and a lot of followers, but they aren’t always known for their high editorial standards. Remember the Kit Kat Jesus candy bar hoax? A fake email claiming that an image of Jesus appeared in a Kit Kat candy bar was sent to bloggers who ran with the story. The story spread virally gaining media exposure around the world. This isn’t the stuff that builds trust.
This study provides more validation that treating social media like another advertising channel or relying on blogger endorsements won’t get you far. To make sure your social media efforts drive business results, leverage word of mouth and invite your customers to share their experiences with your products. They are your most trustworthy voice.ReTweet