Social media users trust fellow consumers more than brands, study finds

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Brief:

The majority of social media users looking for product information prefer posts from other consumers, with 51% of survey respondents saying they trust user images because they're more authentic and trustworthy than brand-owned creative, per a survey by Olapic and Cite Research that was shared with Mobile Marketer.


Forty-four percent of social media users follow an influencer, and 34% of those consumers said they have discovered a brand solely based on influencer posts. Almost half (48%) of survey respondents reported purchasing a product after watching a brand video.


About one-third (37%) of customers have posted a picture on social media referencing a brand to show they enjoyed the product, the survey found. Olapic and Cite surveyed 5,000 social media users in France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and U.S. last fall.


Insight:

Consumer trust has become a thorny issue for mobile marketers amid the profusion of fake news and controversial content on social channels. Even customer reviews on e-commerce sites have become suspect, per a study by U.K. consumer watchdog Which? that this week claimed it found thousands of fake customer reviews about little-known tech products sold on Amazon. Brand safety is a key concern for advertisers who don't want to be perceived as sponsors of objectionable speech and imagery. Major advertisers have boycotted social media platforms that have been lax about screening out such content.


Olapic's survey of social media users suggests that consumers are more likely to trust other posts by real people than those created by brands. That means marketers need to emphasize the authenticity of their brands to register with today's jaded consumers. The findings support other research pointing to how consumers want brands to compel social media companies to behave more responsibly. Seventy percent of digital consumers said brands need to pressure social media sites to do more about false information proliferating on their platforms, and 71% said they expect brands to pressure social media platforms to protect their personal data, according to Edelman's 2018 Trust Barometer report.


Olapic's survey found that user-generated posts have a significant effect on industries like travel, fashion and beauty. Almost two-thirds (62%) of survey respondents said travel images posted by a real person are the most influential endorsement, compared to 21% for a travel-related company like a hotel or booking agency and 17% for an influencer. Seventy-two percent said a real person was the most influential endorser of a beauty product, while 71% said they trusted past customers for reviewing and sharing details of fashion items.


In its study, Olapic found mixed results for social influencers in helping brands. Almost half (44%) of survey respondents said they follow an influencer because they "just like looking at their posts," while only 29% said they have made a purchase based on an influencer post. Only 34% of social media users said they had discovered new products based on an influencer's post. The survey results suggest that brands need to be careful about working with influencers, and partner with social media personalities

who are seen as trustworthy tastemakers.

Recommended Reading:


 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brands and Social Media


 CBS News People don't trust social media -- that's a growing problem for businesses

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