All About Content

What Information Sources Consumers Trust

Posted by Melanie Phung on Monday, December 15, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Newly released survey data from Forrester sheds light on some things that reinforce what we already suspected (consumers don’t trust company blogs) and some things that I find quite surprising: Who Do Consumers Trust?

Forrester graph via the Groundswell blog.

According to the survey, people trust email from people they know and consumer ratings – not a surprise. The third most trusted source is search engine results (mwuahahaha… just kidding), with half or Forrester’s respondents putting a high level of trust in the likes of Google. Somewhat ironically, only a third of people trust Wikipedia as an information source even though Wikipedia.org tends to be at the top of Google’s search results practically by default.

What I find flabbergasting once you go down the list is that more people trust things like Facebook’s Friend Feed than do online content sites like the New York Times’ website! I mean come on.

I get that people are leery of corporate blogs (only 16% said they trusted company blogs as information resources), but more people place trust in message boards (which are open to manipulation and spammers) and personal blogs (ditto) than company blogs, which at least have a brand to protect and generally tend to be fully transparent by virtue of being part of the company’s own site.

This confirms my suspicion that the average consumer of information is both paranoid and naive, at the same time, about what information sources are trust worthy. I mean sure, most corporate blogs aren’t very good, tend to lack personality or worthwhile content, but does the fact that they tend to rehash press releases make these blogs inherently untrustworthy sources of information? Less worthy than, say, a message board?

Rohit Bhargava, the authors of Groundswell and a few others have some thoughts on how corporate bloggers can win consumer trust. (But maybe someone else can address how the NYTimes.com can improve its trust factor.)

Comments (3)

Category: Data

3 Comments

Comment by Marketing Minefield

Made Monday, 15 of December , 2008 at 7:16 pm

It’s a tricky one – I’m not quite sure what NYTimes.com can do to be honest. They allow comments which should help to boost its trust factor as people can always highlight mistakes.

I was a little surprised that consumer product ratings were so high. I’m always a little skeptical as to how many are actual consumers and how many are either people just expressing their opinion (but not based on actually using the product) or simply the companies themselves looking to spread positive views of their products.

Comment by thenoenkz

Made Tuesday, 16 of December , 2008 at 2:31 am

why do the highest rank not from search engine?Manytimes people find any product review from search engine first as a preliminary search. Am i wrong?

Comment by Ian Brodie

Made Wednesday, 17 of December , 2008 at 9:40 pm

I think over time as people become more experienced and realise how consumer reviews and social network ratings can be (and are being) gamed, the level of trust in them will decrease.

“Trust” is an interesting and difficult concept to measure as it has so many different facets. I may “trust” opinions from my fiends not to be lies or influenced by shadowy corporates. but I don’t necessarily “trust” them to be right, as they are unlikely to be experts in the field. With more official media my trust is reversed. They’re more likely to be correct – but more likely to be biased or influenced in some way.

Ian

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