Marketers Gravitate to Facebook As Most Trusted Referral Source

by Magdalena Georgieva

Date

September 15, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Marketing your product in a trusted environment translates into utter success for businesses. No wonder companies rush to populate different social networks in an attempt to dominate the most credible one.

But which channel do marketers themselves trust the most for referrals and product reviews? That would be Facebook , a recent HubSpot poll showed.

Trusted Referral Sources

During HubSpot’s webinar, Digital Word Of Mouth: Let Your Customers Transform Your Marketing , we asked attendees to list their most trusted source for receiving product recommendations. The majority of respondents, 40 out of the 124 participants, selected Facebook above Yelp, Twitter and advertising. Company website ranked second in this survey, with 37 respondents recognizing the importance of this channel.

What is most interesting about this quick survey is that only six people voted for advertising as a trusted referral source. These results emphasize the ineffectiveness of outbound marketing as a recommendation system. Instead of consuming TV ads in a passive environment, online audiences prefer to interact in a dialectical environment. They would reach out to their contacts for product tips and reviews rather than rely on a corporate brand message.

The fact that Facebook has emerged as the leader in social networks doesn’t erase people’s fear of confidentiality breaches. Many times have online audiences expressed concern about their privacy on Facebook, and marketers need to be careful not to exasperate that fear. Businesses should encourage authentic discussions and celebrate the two-way communication thriving in the new media landscape.

As recent research by research company Vision Critical shows , "consumers trust a brand message when it is discussed or recommended by friends, family or contacts within a social network." According to the study, coupons, product photos and videos also rank high as credible avenues for product placements. Not surprisngly, banner ads are the worst performing in terms of earning the trust of audiences.

This prioritization of interactive referral systems before static, outbound channels gives rise to a new, dynamic culture. It is an environment “where likes matter more than links," as Jenna Wortham of The New York Times noted in a recent article .


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