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Most people don’t trust your website, but they might trust people

February 23rd, 2009 by mdmcginnis

A few months ago, Forrester Research asked more than 5,000 people, “How much do you trust the following information sources?” To me, the key revelation was not how low the lowest numbers were. Only 38% said they trusted TV, only 25% said they trusted direct mail, and only 16% (the lowest) said they trusted corporate blogs. But I was more surprised by how low the highest numbers were: most people lack trust in most information sources.

The interviewers didn’t ask questions about “websites” as a whole, only about various types of websites. The only information sources that most people said they trusted were “emails from people you know” (70%) and “consumer product ratings/reviews” (60%). “Portals/search engines” came in at 50%, but every other source on the list was ranked lower than that. And this is based on people who actually use these media. That is, 80% of the people read corporate blogs, but of those who read them, only 16% trust them. For personal blogs, it’s only 18%.

Yet communicators continue to pour their time and money and messages into media that most people don’t trust. That’s not completely new. We’ve known for years that young people pay more attention to musicians than to news anchors, but public relations practitioners still pitch their stories to journalists, not songwriters.
Forrester Research: Which information sources do you trust?

So is social media the answer? People spreading your word to their intimate Facebook friends? Not quite. A typical Facebook user has 150 of those, according to British researchers. People don’t trust corporate Facebook profiles any more than they trust personal blogs. Only 43% trust the social networking profiles of people they know, let alone people they don’t.

What do people trust, and why? It seems to me that personal email is trusted because the sender is trusted. Consumer product ratings are trusted because the raters are trusted. So what is the answer? The answer is to become personally known and trusted by the people you want to influence. But that is no easy answer.

Monday, February 23rd, 2009 Social Media
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