Shocking Edelman Survey Results Reveal Less Trust in Social Media Referrals

Pamela Vaughan
Pamela Vaughan



Public relations firm Edelman recently released its 2010 Trust Barometer , which highlights some findings regarding social media marketing that may shock you.  

According to the latest survey, the number of people who view their friends and peers as credible sources of information about a company has dropped from 45% in 2008 to 25% in 2010, decreasing almost by half!

Edelman Trust Barometer

I don't know about you, but as social media continues to be a marketing hot topic, I've seen a lot of discussion emphasizing the importance of company/product referrals and word of mouth marketing .  So do these findings about the decline in peer-to-peer trust completely undermine the power of referrals?

Not exactly.  As we mentioned in this morning's post, referrals from friends continue to carry their weight in social media.  Still, something has to have changed since 2008, right?       

Why the decline in peer-to-peer trust?

One possibility includes the reach of social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  Now that social networks are increasing in popularity, users are maintaining larger groups of "friends" that include more casual acquaintances, possibly dulling the credibility of peer networks. It's no longer a matter of trusting the opinion just because it's the opinion of a peer.  Now people are less likely to trust an opinion unless it's from a person they know.

Another possibility?  Now that marketers are getting a firm grasp on social media, consumers are becoming more skeptical about the influences behind peer referrals.  Again, this skepticism increases if it's the opinion of a peer they don't really know.

Be smart about your social media interactions.

For marketers, this means that building credibility in people's social media reactions is crucial. The best way to do this is by creating valuable content that people will want to share with their networks.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, people still need to hear things in five different places before they actually believe it.  Therefore, a social media referral isn't the be-all, end-all.  People still look to different sources before making decisions.  Allocate your marketing budget smartly by putting some aside for social media interaction and dedicating some to other inbound marketing initatives like creating content.


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