Twitter has proven that people care about what other people are saying online, regardless of whether they know them in real life. That fact makes brands and advertisers especially interested in getting into the space. But companies should be wary about getting too focused on winning friends and influencing social media users. Because people don't seem to trust their online friends. 

Razorfish has put out a new study that found only 33% of consumers surveyed trust their friends online.

The study, "Fluent: The Razorfish Social Media Influence Marketing Report," looked at how trust works across the different platforms online and offline. And found that people trust their online peer group less than they trust television ads or online reviews from strangers.

The study surveyed 1,000 customers about social media and e-commerce activity and found that while 71% of respondents had shared their recommendations of a product, service, or restaurant online, only a third of those surveyed trusted the opinions of their friends online. That's compared to 73% of consumers who voiced near or complete trust in the opinions of their offline friends.

Respondents have more trust in TV ads and expert online reviews than in their online friends, with 52% trusting television ads and 47% trusting expert reviews. But most surprising is how consumers respond to online friends versus banner ads, which are considered a weak branding source in many areas. But the 33% of people who trust their online friends is only slightly higher than the 31% who trust banner ads.

Before spending money to win over influencers online, brands need to assess the value of what they're getting. Most especially, these numbers point to the large gap between audience and influence. While social media is an attractive space for advertiser looking to leverage the audiences of actives sharers in the space, many people with large social media audiences are likely not influencing the decisions of their folowers

According to Razorfish:

"It is not enough to look at how social influencers affect brand affinity or purchasing decisions just online or offline. As the two worlds blur, brands will need to look at the role influence plays irrespective of the channel, platform or location of that influence."

Meghan Keane

Published 13 July, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (1)


Ron Callari

This report is contrary to all other reports that argues for "pull" versus "push" marketing. With so much evidence to the contrary, it's hard to believe how this one report can sway the pendulum back 180 degrees. The evidence that shows a distrust in traditonal "push" advertising of TV, print and billboards is substantial. Web 2.0 was built on the premise of user-generated content and peer-group reliance. To move counter to this paradigm is a shift that needs to be substantiated by more evidence. One report does not suffice.

about 9 years ago

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