Nearly One Third of Online Consumers Trust a Stranger Over a Brand [Infographic]

Posted on January 4th 2013

Nearly One Third of Online Consumers Trust a Stranger Over a Brand [Infographic]

It is not often I get to infuse a former 80's pop star's name in one of my columns but Rick Springfield - who in addition to trying to woo "Jessie's Girl", warned us to "Don't Talk to Strangers." Well it would appear that a sizable chunk of online consumers who may not be "talking" to strangers, are surely valuing their opinions.

According to an infographic from DKNewMedia with data culled from Forrester, 32% of online consumers trust a stranger's opinion on public forums or blogs more than they trust branded advertisements and marketing collateral. This is just one stat from a far-reaching content marketing infographic and I will share the entire thing with you below - but after reading over the entire thing, this one stat jumped off the screen.

Even with the fact that we're dealing only with online consumers, the mere fact that nearly 1/3 of them of would rather take the word of a complete stranger over a brand is pretty telling, is it not? Do you think there's a bit of a trust issue at play?

Do you get the feeling these 32% feel they've been misled in the past by a given brand, so much so they'd rather take the word of someone they don't know?

Obviously it would be extremely helpful and insightful to know more about the 32% i.e. which brands in particular do they not trust and what it is about them that makes them rely more on the word of a stranger.

Prizes And Pictures

Two additional findings reflected in the content marketing infographic deal with two issues I have raised in the past - most recently in my piece just this past December When It Comes To Content Marketing, Seeing Is Believing in which I spoke to the need for including videos and images in your content marketing mix.

I referenced a survey done by PR firm Matter Communications who surveyed marketers on their thoughts on video and images in content marketing:

  • 95 percent (of marketers) believe visual content is very important for online marketing
  • 89 percent are already using or plan to use visual content in social media
  • 87 percent believe visual content is critical for traditional marketing
  • 80 percent plan to budget for production of visual content in 2013
  • 96.7 percent believe that visual content engages best on social media

All of the above ties in perfectly with the finding from the infographic from DKNewMedia:

And for the record, no, I am not the model in the above image. That guy's much too clean-shaven.

Then there is the matter of incentives or prizes or enticements or whatever word you want to use to get people to like, follow, share, hashtag, and/or repin your content.

In December 2011, I wrote a piece entitled The Major Disconnect Between Brands and Consumers When It Comes to Social Media. Essentially the article spoke to the differences between why a consumer follows, likes, etc. a given brand via social media vs. why marketers think they do. Results are from a survey done by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Lithium.

Here's what consumers said:

Here's what marketers said:

See the disconnect? 65% of consumers follow/like a brand because they want something in return but only 33% of marketers realize it.

Now fast-forward to today:

Looks like a pattern is forming doesn't it? People want something in exchange for them liking, following and so on your brand, so give it to them!

Then keep giving them valuable and trust-worthy content and if you include any form of email marketing in your overall marketing strategy, you definitely want to factor in responsive design to make sure your customer or prospect gets your message in the same manner regardless of which device they are on

Here's the full infographic:


Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions. 

steve olenski

Steve Olenski

A regular contributor to Forbes, among other publications, Steve was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book StumbleUpon For Dummies. Follow him on Twitter@steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle Marketing Cloud.

See Full Profile >


Kent Ong
Posted on January 6th 2013 at 11:13PM

Hi Steve, I got a totally different data from Nielsen. 94% of people trust friends or families recommendations. Which is true then?

Posted on January 8th 2013 at 9:20AM

I've seen similar data, but in regards to friends and family (cc: Kent Ong) as well. Regardless, if your brand is able to influence your audience's friends and families, it's a win-win. Make sure this is a large focus of your brand communication strategy and you will be successful.