“People like me” vs. the experts
Social media has put power in the hands of the consumer, giving everyone a publishing platform to push out their thoughts and feelings to the world at large. This has given great power to word-of-mouth, typically considered the most trustworthy form of marketing. But social behavior is changing as it matures.
The GlobalWebIndex “Annual Report 2011,” which includes data from Trendstream and Lightspeed Research, outlines a shift in consumer behavior on social media. As usage of social sites increases around the world, the landscape is maturing. According to the report, usage is shifting to focus on distributing content rather than creating it. Social media users disseminate and share professionally created content more often on microblogs, social networks and video-sharing platforms.
But the human element remains key to engendering trust. Internet users worldwide reported a nearly 50% increase in their trust of social network contacts giving product recommendations, and a 21% increase for microblog contacts. Even though many of those contacts are likely sharing some professional content with or alongside their personal recommendations, professional sources of information like newspapers and TV barely gained any trust over the same period.