The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust.
Marketers in the US are likely to spend $3.7 billion this year on influencers. However, it seems that consumers are more inclined to turn to everyday social media users for product recommendations.
A survey of over 9,000 consumers worldwide by Bazaarvoice has revealed that the everyday social media user — defined as family, friends, and other connections who share daily content without any incentive to highlight or promote products — is the most trusted influencer.
According to consumers, 37% of them would rather receive product recommendations from everyday users (37%), celebrities (7%), and social media stars (6%) than those made by subject matter experts (25%), celebrities (7%) or a brands’ social media accounts (8%).
This confirms a Kantar Media study that found family and friends are the most trusted source for product recommendations.
Ipsos also found that consumers trust customer reviews, TV ads, and companies more than influencers:
However, despite a similar percentage of respondents saying that subject matter experts (39%) and everyday users (38%) are important, more than one-third (36%) believe that ordinary users are more likely to review a product objectively than celebrities (12%) or social media stars (9%).
Consumer trust has become a thorny issue.
In an effort to instill greater trust, regulations from the Federal Trade Commission in the US have made it mandatory for influencers to include ‘#ad’ when a post has been paid for. Other countries have placed restrictions on influencers to curb concerns about authenticity — for example, requiring them to disclose whether they have used editing software or filters on images, which 8 out of 10 consumers believe should be required.
Consumers also think that anyone who breaks these regulations should either be permanently banned (23%) or temporarily blocked (23%) from platforms and prevented from monetizing future content (21%) or fined (15%)
These regulations have not helped build consumer trust, however — 36% of respondents say they count on influencers now more than before rules were in place, but 25% disagree, and 39% state that they don’t trust them anymore.
The relationship between social commerce and consumers is changing rapidly. Shoppers no longer seek recommendations from celebrities. Instead, they are turning to everyday influencers for product recommendations and education via the use of user-generated content (UGC).
Brands have a great opportunity to use UGC in their marketing campaigns by accessing unofficial ambassadors who are deemed trustworthy and authentic by their customers and followers.
However, this doesn’t mean consumers won’t enjoy beautifully curated content from brands or sponsored content — they expect to see a variety, so your approach should be strategic and targeted.