Immune to the advertisers’ guile we increasingly turn to people just like us to help make decisions about what to buy – writes Scott Guthrie

Social media, search and smartphones, have handed us the power to compare prices, complain loudly, and share opinions like never before.

As consumers, we’ve grown savvy. Immune to the advertisers’ guile. Our relationship with advertising is postmodern. We know ads are designed to persuade us to buy something. And we don’t want to be sold at. We’d rather trust the opinion of someone just like us, who’s really used the product, to tell us whether the product works or not.

According to Nielsen, 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of marketing. A trend shared by the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer which shows that, increasingly, peers influence purchasing decisions: “59% [of those polled] saying they’ve recommended a company to a friend or colleague in the last year”.

This builds on Edelman’s 2015 EARNED BRAND study. 75% of those surveyed said they made a decision about a brand based on a conversation with a peer. It seems the experience of others becomes our evidence.

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The authors of A World Gone Social agree:

“Customers, no longer beholden to marketing departments or advertising agencies for guidance or input, confer with each other; they compare notes, thoughts, and experiences about the companies with which they and their vast networks do business.”

This year’s trust barometer tells us that people no longer rely on a few well-informed opinion shapers for news and information. Instead we turn to search engines, social media, and the telly.

The percentage of those polled by Edelman for its trust barometer who use each media source several times a week or more:

  • 71% use search engines
  • 69% use TV
  • 67% use social media


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This presents additional problems for PR practitioners trying to shift negative or reinforce positive public opinion of their clients. It requires:




Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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