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Trust, marketing & the rule of 5

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday February 13, 2010 )

When it comes to product recommendations, people don’t trust their friends and peers so much any more as in this day and age, a friend is very different to even just a decade ago and our network of peers is bigger than ever.

I rue the day that social networks started to term anyone added to a user’s network as a “friend” – it has really ruined the word.

According to the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, while in 20 countries, corporate or product advertising continues to be considered the least credible source of information at 17%; social networks don’t fair much better at 19%.

Furthermore, 75% of consumers don’t trust their peers (including social network “friends”) to provide good advice about a company, substantially up from 55% just a year previously.

What changed? While the GFC has left people badly scarred, it probably also has something to do about the number of “friends” and peers we have on these services – often we’ll hardly really know many of these people.

Let’s face it – how can anyone have 500 real friends? I remember my Dad telling me that the number of true friends I’ll have in my life I’ll probably be able to count on one hand. Originally I thought he was just telling me I was a loser who nobody liked ;).

So, with all this distrust, how do you get trust? It’s rather hard stuff to buy, so all the usual things apply such as providing great information and service; but it’s also about saturation.

According to Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, consumers now need to see and hear recommendations in five different places before they’ll actually give the message some credibility. It’s a bit like the old “7 exposures” in advertising that says a person will often need to see an ad 7 times before they’ll buy.

So the take-home point is not to just saturate via one place such as a particular social network, spread the message around. Use multiple networks, press releases, PPC search ads, online interviews and articles – but don’t just shotgun it – be smart about it and ensure the folks you want to see all this frequent where the messages will be relayed.

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