Obviously, this is surprising as it runs counter to virtually everything we have come to believe about social networks, and their value to marketers – friends trust friends. We surf the web for peer reviews, we find out which of our Facebook friends have bought certain products or services…but according to Edelman, we still only “buy” peer advice a quarter of the time.
What that tells me is that at the end of the day customers are wary of just about all promoters in the absence of credibility. The study went on to contrast this with academics, who are trusted better than 60% of the time. Makes sense to me…we generally regard academics as objective, and without agendas. Compare that to government officials, who are trusted just 27% of the time.
Just as we view most politicians as having hidden agendas, we can see how a consumer would want to promote a product they’ve bought…who wants to admit they bought a lousy product? So insteady, pyschologically, we convince ourselves we made a wise buy by convincing others to buy it.
So marketers – as you go out and rally promoters around your brand, ask yourself how credible those endorsements are. I think this is a huge blow to social media advocates and should force marketers to re-assess how they are measuring success among social networks. It also reaffirms that no matter your following, there is no substitute for value creation and quality when it comes to customer needs.