Do You Trust What Your “Online Friends” Say About A Brand?

 Image Provided By: whatmegsaidAccording to a new report, you don’t.

Leave it to marketers to try everything in their power to ruin the internet.

I should know because I’m one of these marketers.  People know that when I’m talking about Notre Dame or any kind of product, really, that I’m lying.  Why?  Because that’s my job.

Or is it?  I believe that my “friends” think I’m a reliable resource of information.  Sure, occasionally, I’ll push something because someone reached out to me and asked me to but most of the time, I push things that have helped me, that have made my life easier, or that I think is just fun.

Image Provided by: whatmegsaid – Flickr Creative Commons

Like, Oak turned me on to this and I think it’s fun.  So I push “friends” toward it.  I talk about it both offline and online. (BTW, helped my wife and I find the best big little country bar, Cowboy Up, in Michigan on a snowboarding trip)

Here’s what the new report on BizReport (great newsletter by the way) says about online trust with friends.

According to Edelman’s results the number of people who trust their friends to provide credible sources of information about a brand or product has taken a dive – dropping from 45% in 2008 to just 25% in 2010.

Consumers have also lost faith in socializing company employees – their credibility dropped from 31% in 2009 to 28% this year.

“Social networking used to be innocent, peer to peer conversation and now it’s turned into a marketing playground in which almost everything — blog space, tweets and, in some cases, opinion — is for sale,” writes ZDNet’s Jennifer Leggio.

And don’t consumers just know it.

Of course, mistrust of social marketing methods isn’t the only reason behind the drop in trust. Other reasons for the decline could be:

– The sheer volume of recommendations being pushed, via friends and peers, to social networking feeds each day. Their importance is diluted by these numbers.

– Larger networks of friends that include people they don’t really “know”.

– The recession has made consumers more skeptical and they now tend to turn to experts rather than acquaintances.

To me, the last three things are more correct than the assertion at the beginning.  That friends aren’t trusting friends anymore.  I still trust my friends.  I don’t trust social marketers.  They have an agenda.  They don’t really socialize with me.  They fill up my Twitter stream and upset me.

That’s why I’m fond of saying that Social Media Marketing should NOT be handled by a Marketer or the Marketing Department.  It should be handled by a Community Organizer – a Company Advocate – a Dedicated Fan who understands it’s about the overall community, participation and help you can offer.

Definitely not someone who knows how to stay on the message and not deviate from it.

What do you think?


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