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?