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As consumers, we have grown savvy to adverts placed both online and in print. We would rather trust the opinion of someone like us, someone who has “tried and tested” the product and tell us whether it works or not, or if it’s worth the purchase price!
To date, this is where social media influencers come in. They are people like us – but at scale. We find them more relatable and more engaging than traditionally authoritative voices. A more authentic, intimate voice which moves us to change our behaviours or opinions.
However, according to the recently launched 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in influencers has plummeted to an all-time low. The credibility of a social media influencer has declined substantially.
The survey results show the credibility of a ”person like yourself” — often a source of news and information on social media — dipped to an all-time low in the study’s history.
The report suggests that authority rather than popularity is a key to cutting through the fog of fake news.
“In a world where facts are under siege, credentialed sources are proving more important than ever.” Stephen Kehoe, Global chair, Reputation.
Why is influencer trust at an all-time-low?
- Over the years there has been a surge of people jumping on the influencer trend, willing to monetise their social media following without possessing real influence over their following. And too few brands are equipped to set effective objectives and measure against those objectives in their influencer campaigns.
- There are many faux influencers (fauxfluencers) – this is people who gain reach through purchasing new followers.
- Many influencers offer to provide positive product reviews in return for cash or free products.
- Many provide influencer advertising. Producing ill-thought out sponsored content for brands and no connection with their audience tastes #spon #ad
However, these examples are not representative of true influencers.
It is other people who decide who influencers are – not us. Influencers are called influencers through third-party endorsement because they genuinely influence. They form or change opinions and alter behaviours.
The issue the influencer marketing model faces is that if payment is being made for content, this ultimately brings down this media channel to the same levels of effectiveness as its traditional advertising equivalents.
How can influencers ensure trust?
- Build up their own credentials and use their content to demonstrate their subject matter expertise.
- Nurture a few, mutually-beneficial relationships with brands that share their voice and values.
- They use their creativity and social capital to deliver expert resources.
Why are journalists now seen as more credible?
This year, trust in journalism jumped five points while trust in platforms dipped two points
Journalists compete with each other to ask questions and race to report on facts to us, their readership. Journalism is a discipline of verification. It relies upon core concepts – transparency, humility, and originality. All of which means people are more likely to trust in what’s being reported.
2018 Edelman Trust Barometer methodology
Online survey in 28 countries. 18 years of data. 33,000+ respondents total. 30-minute survey. All fieldwork was conducted between October 28 and November 20, 2017.
For more on our consumer PR, see ADPR’s Consumer PR 101