When did we start trusting strangers? The magic of Social Media Marketing

I was recently reminded of an informative survey that appeared in Groundswell, the great book by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li.   It's all about trust, and it really is relevant in today's rocky market.

The gist of the survey is this:  people trust other people -- whether they know them or not -- more than they trust the vendor of a product.  While this is a conclusion drawn from a survey, it really is just intuitively clear.  Most people are skeptical of the claims a company makes in advertising, but they quickly believe the opinion of others who have no vested interest in promoting a product.

Here's the chart of the survey, which originally was posted in this informative blog post "Who do people trust?"

The Internet and social media has made this possible where it never was before.  Without the Web, how would you connect with someone who uses a product in which you're interested or someone who shares a passion that you do?  You'd have to find a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, etc.  Or go to a user group. All way too hard.  Now with a few Google searches and clicks, you can be connected to dozens if not hundreds of other people who can help you.

This is why companies all over the world are trading in traditional marketing dollars and moving to social media marketing:  it's more believable, more influential, and delivers a higher ROI than traditional one-way marketing where you "push and interrupt" a brand message.   Social media marketing connects people to other people who they can trust.  it builds brands in an organic way and generates real revenue.  This movement is accelerated by the economic downturn, where slashed marketing budgets will mean marketing teams are looking for better ways to spend their dollars.

Do you agree?  Who do you trust?

who do you t...
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