According to emarketer’s recent October 2009 report titled Social Commerce on Faceboook, Twitter and Retail sites, 92% of consumers consider “recommendations from people I know” as a trusted media source. Right now it seems to be a number the brands are trying to hang their hats onto, but is it for the right reasons?
First of all, with any statistic you must understand the context. So what does 92% really mean? If you look at it a little closer, you’ll notice that 92% of people trust recommendations from other consumers they know and even trust opinions posted by unknown consumers MORE than ads on TV, on the radio, in magazines and newspapers.
So my next question, is why?
Is it that we really trust our friends more than say a trusted, educated, informed, objective news source such as the WSJ? Or is that we no longer trust the objectivity of the medium? Shouldn’t the real question be about why our confidence in other mediums has been reduced to such an all time low that to put it bluntly, one shit pile smells better than another?
Unfortunately our crazy Aunt Susan and depressed sister Sue aren’t any smarter than they were 2 years ago, so why the increase in trust? I’d like to start the discussion that perhaps there isn’t an actual increase in trust of friends, but actually a decline in the trust of media. The veil has been lifted with the advent of technology, and quite frankly, I think the wizard isn’t as smart as we’d been “sold”.
But then again, neither is our social circle, right? How many people really walk around talking about how smart and brilliant their friends and family are? For example, my brother takes risks I’d never take. My sister wouldn’t take half the risks that I take. And my cousin? I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. I even have friends who I love dearly, but the minute they start selling something to me, I tune out.
Yet I do like information. Quick and easy answers. Love it. So it truly comes down to a specific algorithm of quantity and quality, in my opinion.
Take Amazon. If you find a product you like with a rating of 5 stars and 16 ratings, is it better than a product with 4 stars and 3000 ratings? Hard to tell. You probably have to look a little deeper. Perhaps you go to price point to decide. Are there only 16 ratings because that version costs 5 times as much so not as many people could afford it? Or are there less ratings because the product is awful and they could only get 16 of their employees to “stretch the truth”?
The truth is, there are so many more factors than just the rating or recommendation itself. The ones I trust the most are the ones that tell me what is wrong with a product and what is good about it. That feels objective to me. Again, personal preference is the wild card that is very difficult to quantify and can only really be deciphered after significant engagement metrics. However, it’s the quirks of the consumer that is every brand’s sweet spot because it’s hard to measure, but once you do, it’s invaluable as it plays a huge part when it comes to making decisions to purchase.
What it truly comes down to is that consumers are demanding real access to real time stats from potentially real people that they actually trust. That’s powerful support for any brand. Yet, as long as the product (or medium) is of high quality and maintains transparency, then the brand (or medium) can be trusted…no matter what their friends tell them.
In fact, many brand advocates are built due to opposition. The more someone hates you, the more the others love you; make them love you or hate you, but never leave them indifferent.
Remember: your job as a brand is to create outstanding products, that at a minimum meet a need and at best fulfill a want (more on this later). But you must clearly say what you do and do what you say, period. Then you as the brand will become the “friend” and people will trust you.
Bottom line? No one likes to be sold. Ever. For any reason. An agenda inspired opinion is revolting to most. People want transparency in their lives. I believe that integrity still counts for something. Aren’t most people just looking for the facts so they can decide for themselves?
It comes down to quality choices. Very few people have the time to become an expert on every topic they have to make decisions around. Most just want the right information at the right time from people who know what they are talking about, so a better decision can be made.
REV it up tip of the day: Be Remarkable, Focus on Engagement to Go Viral.
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