Social media and trust – Marketing Week

SimonGeneral0 Comments

This week’s Marketing Week magazine (UK) carries a double page spread about blogging in marketing. Most of the spread is based on the results of the Hotwire/Ipsos MORI survey that I’ve posted about before. However there’s also some interesting discussion about trust in blogs and their use as a marketing tool.
The spread features a view on the topic from Marcus Rich (EMAP Advertising and ECM Lifestyle Magazines). He cites EMAP Advertising’s 10,000 strong insight panel, suggesting that most people read blogs far more for entertainment purposes than for information.

Over half the panellists who read blogs (61%) say they take what they read with caution, and only 13% of the pannelists say they really trust the information in them…Panellists are keen to listen to new music on the recommendation of a blog (49% agree), but are considerably less keen to buy goods (only 18% agree).

He also looks at the evidence that consumers are still “crying out” for trusted voices to inform their purchase decision, but few will put their trust in people they meet using social media (14.4% agree they’d trust someone in a social media space).

The issue of trust is key for social media and I don’t doubt the accuracy of these figures. However the general thrust of the article is about how marketers shouldn’t overestimate the value of blogs as part of a marketing mix designed to influence consumer behaviour.

However what’s really behind the figures here is a lack of realisation that social media (and blogs) as part of a marketing and PR mix are about building relationships in the online world.

It’s not surprising that people don’t trust information in blogs particularly, especially if they’ve only just found them through search or recommendation. I don’t trust new blogs any more than someone I bumped into on the street – trust comes with building relationships – in that way social media relationships are no different to real world relationships.

The real commercial value of social media is in building long-term two-way relationships between organisations, their consumers and their prospective consumers. It’s about building trust through interactions and endorsement.

This is the reason why I cringe when I read (repeatedly) in the marketing press that X brand has launched a new advertising campaign that includes a blog. A short-term blog created to go with a campaign can’t realise the potential of social media for marketing – it’s just another form of interruption advertising that’s using a fashionable new tool.

The value of social media for commercial organisations is when they engage for the longer term – the relationships they form are much deeper and can help build networks of advocates for the company or brand – something a short-term campaign blog can rarely do.

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