So, Who Do Consumers Trust?

Left: This is the same graphic I discussed yesterday, “How much do you trust the following information sources?”

Yesterday, we highlighted the findings from Forrester’s latest report on consumer trust. Although there has been quite a bit of discussion on Twitter, on Josh’s comments (read former colleague Peter Kim’s comments) there’s been a mixed bag or reviews from Read Write Web and eWeek. So it’s out in the open: most corporate blogs are trusted, and the reasons are very obvious.

Let’s examine the graphic that was provided:
First, review this graphic in a separate window, let’s start at the bottom and move our way up. Right above corporate blogs, consumers nearly equally don’t trust social networking site profiles from a company or brand, no surprise, it’s often the equivalent of a corporate blog. Strange that consumers don’t trust personal blogs? We actually saw other findings from data that supports that blogs are not trusted. Then, moving up the graphic, we start to see an increase in trust from mainstream mediums like email from a company or brand, Wikis, radio, mainstream news websites, and print magazines. Finally, you start to see an uptake from social networking profiles of people you know, print newspapers, and then the yellow pages.

So, Who Do Consumers Trust?
Perhaps what’s most interesting is that the top three are: Email from people you know, consumer product ratings and review,and search engines.

77% trust email form someone they know. Makes sense, people we know in our truly intimate of circles are those who we keep closest. Websites that have a “Share this via” email may be a good start, using the vendor ShareThis is a good start. Also, this suggests that marketers should start to think about letting other types of content be easily shared from email address to email. We’ve always known that email was the first digital social network that mattered.

60% trust consumer product ratings and reviews: I find both logical but we’ve some ways to go. Right now, we’re leaning on reviews from individuals that may not be in our trust circle. So as the social graph and eCommerce engines start to tie, we’ll soon have access to reviews of products from our direct network of folks we really know. Razorfish has eloquently helped to visualize this concept with this presentation.

50%: Say they trust portals/search engines: In Google We Trust, is that Charlene Li frequently used to tell me, and it still holds true. When you look closely, the search engine results in Google are really social recommendations. How so? The Google algorithm (while I’m over simplifying) puts a great deal of weight on how humans organize, link, and create content.

So in summary, when you look closely, people trust each other. If you’re not up to date on Forrester’s POST methodology, now is the time to learn, I ensure each of my clients knows it on my daily inquiry calls. For the most part, this methodology is available in public and has been published on blogs and in slideshare, what’s key is that we understand the common framework of terms, particularly the five objectives: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing

As Josh alluded to in his comments, it’s time to focus on energizing (word of mouth), and maybe supporting (customers helping each other) –rather than talking (brands telling consumers)

29 Replies to “So, Who Do Consumers Trust?”

  1. It is interesting that the two most personal recommendations are on opposite ends of the spectrum — “Email from people you know” is over 4 times more trustworthy than “Personal blog.” Food for thought, thank you.

  2. There’s good substance in the report, but the chart really flies in the face of other research I’ve seen and even conducted myself. And I’m not even coming close to suggested that corporate blogs have a high level of trust. I’ll eventually blog a response, but here are a few of the thoughts I shared on Max Kalehoff’s blog.

  3. Although the trust chart may show what consumers believe it doesn’t address what they should believe.

    Consumer product reviews… I’ve seen plenty of website who’s reviews could be highly suspect. I’m not so sure I believe many of them.

    Mommy bloggers… when the first thing out of a bloggers mouth is “send me some products so I can review” I’d have to question the authority of those reviews.

    The concept of social media being so honest and transparent has been such a big deal recently that it’s almost caused people to not believe it.

    I’ve read blogs, consumer reviews and forums where I could just hear the person saying “I’m so open and honest that I can lie through my teeth and people will believe me”.

    I think trust comes down to feeling a connection with the writer and believing that what they just wrote is real and true.

  4. Jim

    The mommy blogosphere is getting over-saturated from vendors hawking wares (I saw the goodie bags at blogher), and some mommy bloggers naturally taking advantage (just as tech bloggers did), everything must change.

  5. I agree that this seems to be the way forward: energizing (word of mouth), supporting (customers helping each other, providing impartial & helpful info) and last but not least LISTENING “rather than talking (brands telling consumers)we need to open proper communication channels.

  6. Hmm, this seems too “single option”. I don’t trust any one of those resources individually. That is the beauty of the web today. I have multiple channels of information and each channel has multiple viewpoints. I can very quickly do my own crowdsourcing research and get a sense of what I believe to be “the truth”.

    Different people are going to have different weightings. To me that would be the interesting study. Unfortunately, I am not sure how you could distill that into a single graph.

  7. Great sanity check post for all in Social Media. Too much focus lately on the *media* and not enough on the *social* I would guess. Most consumers online want: convenience & ease. Not surprising that is what/who they trust.

  8. Trust is domain-specific.

    Google owns the string in virtually all TLDs so far, but when ICANN rolls out private TLDs next year, the will no longer be able to buy their own string at any price. Will be interesting to see what happens as a result — but that may take several years (or maybe even another decade) to fully “materialize”.


    ;D nmw

  9. Trust appears to be a function of our experience with the resource and their relevance to the category being discussed

    1) Our strongest relationships are built over time and include an assessment of the willingness of the resource to help (personal emails would be high on this factor).

    2) A relevant resource is one we perceive as an unbiased expert that provides useful information about the topic

    For this reason our ‘networks’ differ widely depending on the question at hand.

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