February 23, 2010

3 Out Of 4 Don't Trust Their Friends

Oh, boy. The social media marketing crowd are going to have a hysterectomy over this one.

According to a new study called "Trust Barometer"* done by Edelman, 3 out of 4 people do not trust their friends and peers as credible sources of information about products or companies.

Not only that, in the past two years, the number of people who trust recommendations from friends and peers has dropped almost in half, from 45% to 25%. You can find a summary of the study here.

Perhaps the most devastating aspect of this study is how it undermines the foundational myth of social media marketing hustlers. Their precious "conversations" are apparently a whole lot less powerful than they would have us believe.

These findings support other reports about consumer indifference to social media marketing. Nine months ago, Online Media Daily reported that "less than 5% of social media users regularly turn to... social networks for 'guidance on purchase decisions.'" They concluded that "the influence of social media isn't at the bottom of the list, but it is somewhere in the long tail of marketing."

Believe it or not, while consumer confidence in messages conveyed by peers dropped 13% in the past year (45% to 39%), confidence in messages coming from CEOs actually gained in confidence by 50% (17% to 26%). Try and figure that one out.

The key point here is that social media marketing zealotry is constructed on very few facts and a whole Rube Goldberg apparatus of speculation, assumptions, assertions and inferences about the power of "conversations."

If only 1 in 4 people have confidence in recommendations from friends and peers -- including known friends and peers -- imagine how few have confidence in unknown "friends and peers" on wanker social sites.

Like I've been saying for a long time, the bigger social media gets, the more suspect social media marketing gets.

You can trust me on this. I'm a CEO.

By the way...
...you can expect this study to generate a lot of hyperventilated and killing-the-messenger among the "conversational" class. Agencies, on the other hand, will bury it as quickly as possible. Too much money in social media. I'll be writing more about this on Thursday.

*Big thanks to Elise for this story.

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