There's no question that people are using social media to share information and opinions about products. Facebook, Twitter, blogs - they're all full of product stories, complaints and recommendations.
But do people trust what's being said in those social media spaces?
Apparently, it depends on which medium you're talking about. Blogs may be more trusted than other social media.
Women turn to blogs for product information and reviews
In BlogHer's 2009 Women and Social Media Study research shows that women turn to blogs for product information and reviews:
AND women trust the recommendations of those bloggers:
The study surveyed 1,000 customers about social media and e-commerce activity and found that while 71% of respondents had shared their recommendations of a product, service, or restaurant online, only a third of those surveyed trusted the opinions of their friends online. That's compared to 73% of consumers who voiced near or complete trust in the opinions of their offline friends.
So what's going on here?
BlogHer's Elisa Camahort Page points out that the Razorfish study did not include blogs:
I was intrigued by the reference to lack of trust of online "friends" in the Razorfish study. From what I'm reading in the report, they define those "online friends" as people on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. That makes the conclusion about lack of trust much less surprising to me.
When we did our Women and Social Media study [PDF] in Q1, there was a distinct difference between what people turned to blogs for vs. social network apps like FB, MS and even Twitter. Advice, recommendations and opinion are still the domain of blogs. While keeping in touch with your circle is more the domain of the other apps.
I'm intrigued that Razorfish doesn't cite blogs at al in the trust table and wonder why.
Our findings were that trust was very high between blog readers and the blogs they frequent. Do people trust *every* blog? I don't think so. But they trust their own micro-community of blogs...the ones they read every day, every week.
Do more women than men trust blogs as sources of product information and reviews?
I also wonder if there's a gender thing going on here. Research shows that women are more likely to share opinions about products.
Another key point is that people tend to trust "people like themselves" as John Moore from All Things WOM points out:
At the heart of the “Sponsored Conversations” discussion is the fact that people trust people like themselves. The Edelman Trust Barometer has been measuring the credibility of spokespeople for years and in those years, the “trust” people place with other people they can relate to has increased.
Bloggers, for the most part, are people like us. They aren’t necessarily trained experts or schooled journalists. They are people more like us; passionate about gadgets, movies, music, and everything else that makes life interesting.
I think the key here is the "people like us" statement. Women bloggers read other bloggers they can relate to, often bloggers they feel are "like them."
Since so many women feel that advertisers aren't doing a good job of relating to or connecting with them, perhaps a blog written by a woman, in a woman's authentic voice, talking about what women care about does come across as more "trustworthy."
Bottom line for advertisers
Women are looking for product information and opinions online and they're often turning to bloggers to get those opinions. Bloggers are going to continue to influence purchases.
They key point going forward is to make sure that those opinions continue to be trustworthy.