The Los Angeles Times reports the latest Trust Barometer Survey by Edelman Public Relations, and the results are sobering. Back in the early days of social media, people tended to trust their online friends more than advertisements and marketers. In fact, I reported this in my book, The Last TV Evangelist. In those days, personal networks were the dominant force in decision making about products and services. But in this latest survey, things have changed, as companies have learned to harness the web. As the Times reports:
“According to the survey, since 2008 the number of people who view their friends and peers as credible sources of consumer and business information dropped by almost half, from 45% to 25%. Similarly, in the past year, the number of people who view peers as credible spokespersons also slipped. Even more strikingly, however, after a precipitous decline earlier in the decade, informed consumers have regained trust in traditional authorities and experts.”
What does it mean? Essentially, it means that corporations have made social media more professionalized and less personal, and as a result, we just don’t know who to trust anymore. From my perspective, this has also happened as a resut of the popularity of social media. As we grow to hundreds (or thousands) of friends on Facebook or Twitter, we lose the personal connection to each person. As a result, social media becomes more impersonal and unfriendly.
It’s an interesting phase of the social media revolution. I’d love to know your thoughts…