Do People Really Trust Bloggers?

13
May
2008

I know I’ve been talking a bit much about blogging lately, and I’m not going to stop just yet. I was sent a link a while ago to a data chart from Forrester Research highlighting sources that people trust the most when it comes to information about products and services.

Not surprisingly, the results show that people most trust feedback coming from people they know. Apparently 83% of those surveyed trust the almighty word of mouth. What did surprise me is that only 30% of respondents said they trusted bloggers for that same information.

Now take those numbers with a grain of salt.

A commenter on the Web-Strategist blog post featuring this study picked up on the issue that bothered me when I looked at these stats: there’s no way to differentiate a generic blogger the respondent is unfamiliar with from those that they may regularly follow (in which case, blogger-reader relationships can make a reader consider a blogger a friend or at least more personal acquaintance).

There are bloggers in some of the niches I write in that I’m very friendly with – spending more time communicating with a handful of them than I even spend with my closest friend. I consider them friends, colleagues, etc., and would trust their recommendations about products and companies without hesitation. So if you were to ask me if I trust a review from “a blogger,” my response would likely not include them… they’re not just “a blogger” in my eyes.

I’d wager that most people reading blogs regularly have a great deal more trust than this survey / study seems to imply. I’ve also noticed it from a blogger perspective (mostly on my freelance writing blog) – when readers trust you, and you recommend a product honestly, they buy it. When you recommend a new tool to use, they try it… and in droves sometimes.

So what do you think? Is there really a lack of trust in bloggers overall, or is the survey flawed on that front? And from a PR perspective, does an “overall” trust in blogs really matter, or should you only be concerned with what regular blog readers think? Personally, I’d say if they’re behind the times and not reading blogs much to begin with, their opinions on the credibility of bloggers mean nothing, as they’re not who the bloggers are targeting and reaching. And on a final note, the trust issue certainly depends on individual blogs and how well they’re able to build a relationship with their readers. So what would you most look for when trying to decide if a blog is trustworthy or not, especially if they’re talking about your company or product?


4 Comments

  • Well, if bloggers aren’t seen as trustworthy, then I’m going to be out of a job real quick…

    I think the most important thing to me when reading reviews or taking recommendations is that the mention is not being paid for. I do not trust Pay Per Post. At all. I’m also skeptical of mentions that sound a bit too much like advertising.

    Overall, I trust the bloggers I have personal relationships with more, but I’ve been known to check out a product, say, a pair of jeans, simply because someone random I came across gave them such a glowing and sincere review.

  • I’m on the fence with paid postings. I’ve done them on my general business blog before (although not currently), but I’m also bluntly honest in reviews, clearly mark sponsored reviews as such, and the buyers know that going in (payment doesn’t guarantee a positive review). I’ve never had anyone complain, and I’ve had several go back for more for other projects b/c they appreciated the constructive criticism. I usually can get a good feel for when someone’s being honest or just hyping it up for the cash in a review, and I’d like to think a lot of readers can… what gets to me is when it seems to be all a blogger does, or if the blogger is willing to review absolutely everything. If they keep them on-target to their audience, are genuinely reviewing something, and are transparent about it being paid, I don’t look at it with less trust (although I can understand how others do).

    Another blogging group I trust would be second-hand referrals. So if a blogger that’s unknown to me writes about something, and a blogger I know better links to them and says it’s worth checking out, that second blogger’s trust with me gets transferred to the new blogger usually without question.

  • tech pr says:

    blog is simply a medium for communication. one’s trust on blog simply reflects the trust one places on the blogger or bloggers maintaining that blog. longer you read a blog and more you know the blogger personally, better is the trust level. so we can not generalize. having said that, majority of blogs enjoy a good level of trust among readers. a recommendation from some blog is more likely to increase sales than no recommendation at all.

  • While it’s true that blogs are a medium, they still do have a problem of being lumped together. Do you trust tabloids? How about public radio? Media types have always had broader trust levels placed in them before you get down to the individual blogger, journalist, show host, etc. So I’d argue that we can, in fact, generalize to at least some degree. I do understand your point though, and it’s what I was addressing in the original post – that we don’t consider all bloggers to be just “bloggers,” but rather some as friends, colleagues, etc.

    I’d also argue that the “majority” of blogs probably don’t enjoy a good level of trust among readers. Keep in mind, what we might think of when he hear the word “blog” doesn’t necessarily represent the majority of them (which are often highly personal journals as opposed to authority blogs or other types of niche blogs).


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