The recent exponential growth of social networks has led marketers to focus largely on this sector, as it is widely believed that users will trust the opinions of their friends easily. While this did actually happen, to begin with, a recent study by Edelman’s Trust Barometer, shows that things are now changing.
In 2008, 45% of users thought that the opinion of their friends was trustworthy. Now, only 25% of them think so.
Other sources that have lost credibility in varying degrees are TV (lost 23 points), radio and newspapers (lost 20 points) and company spokespersons (lost 6 points). The employees of various companies who engage in discussions with consumers about their products have also lost credibility (lost 3 points).
Quite surprisingly, the CEOs of various companies, who are now coming forward to speak about their companies and products, are now gaining the trust of users (up from 17% to 26%).
Other sources showing an increase in consumer trust are government officials, analysts, NGO representatives and academic authorities.
Part of the reason for users losing faith in word-of-mouth advertising could be the greater awareness about spokespersons receiving compensation from the companies.
Richard Edelman, CEO and President of Edelman thinks this a sign of the changing times. People now need endorsements from several different sources before they start believing in a product.
Marketers who have started devoting a lot of time and money, to these social networks may now have to rethink and change their strategy before it is too late.