Who Has the Most Influence Online? (Report)

The most trusted sources of information (rated extremely/very credible) this year were technical experts, academic experts and peers.

Influence has become a primary currency in social media marketing. Users trust influencers more than brands, and they remain loyal to those influencers. Additionally, users want trustworthy content from their brands and influencers. A report from Kissmetrics examines influence and trust, and how to use them to increase conversion rates.

Using data gleaned from the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, Kissmetrics highlights just how trusting consumers and prospects are. The most trusted sources of information (rated extremely/very credible) this year were technical experts, academic experts and peers, with all three falling between 63 percent and 67 percent. Respondents are also starting to trust CEOs a lot more this year, with trust increasing by 8 percent year over year; however, CEO trust remains below 50 percent.

Peers are very impactful when it comes to both positive and negative influence. 59 percent of peers recommended a company to a friend or colleague within the past 12 months, and 75 percent of peer respondents said peer recommendations help them make decisions, avoid risks and overcome concerns.

Trust in publications has also shifted significantly in recent years. Search engines are now considered more trustworthy than traditional media, and trust in online-only, owned and social media are all trending upward. Millennials in particular are up to 7 percent more trusting of these sources than the general population. All of this means that delivering trustworthy information is more difficult if your business plans to use traditional means.

Author, website designer and Kissmetrics contributor Sherice Jacob notes:

Things like the shiny corporate announcements, big brand mergers and executive trumpeting matter very little to consumers. They don’t build trust because consumers look at trust differently. Customers and prospects want honesty. Ethics. Understanding … It means that in order to convince and convert, you have to get down on the customer’s level and see things from their point of view. It means not being afraid to admit your weaknesses or acknowledge your mistakes.

Jacob suggests a more peer-like approach to marketing, and this could be delivered through personalized notifications, more transparent communication between the company and users and institutional communication changes. Treating your prospects as a number in a ledger will do very little to convert them to paying customers, and companies still stuck in this mindset need to rethink their strategy.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.