Trust These Numbers

The folks at Edelman are out with their latest Trust Barometer and the results are interesting. Of course, one can ask “why are they important?” As the study’s sponsors put it:

Trust is a forward-facing metric of stakeholder expectation. It is an asset that institutions must understand and properly build in order to be successful in today’s complex world.

I agree. So what did they find?

The study surveyed 6,000 “informed publics” aged 25-64 across 27 markets, finding that online search engines are now the most trusted source of general news. Search also widened its lead over newspapers and TV as the first source for general information and the source used by most to confirm and validate news.

In other words, what you and I might consider as traditional media sources of news and information have fallen behind search engines.  Not surprising in some ways since the “always on” version of traditional media is skewed one way or another with respect to how things are reported. The issue with search is “garbage in – garbage out“.  While algorithms tend to give more weight to “credible” sources such as the same traditional media outlets we might discount on other platforms, many of the highly read digital sources pop up on search engine result pages on an equal footing.  The obvious issue is that many of the newer outlets offer as much quality control as a blind man in a paint factory.

That said, once you become a source, you stay there:

  • Friends and family (72%) and academic experts (70%) are the most trusted sources of information consumed by informed publics on social networking sites, content sharing sites, and online-only information sources. Informed publics are almost twice as likely to trust content created by companies they use (60%) as content from brands they don’t use (32%).
  • 8 in 10 informed publics have chosen to buy products and services from a company they trust during the past year, and 68% have recommended them to a friend or colleague.

So whom do you trust?  More importantly, what are you doing to cultivate trust among your stakeholders?


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Filed under Consulting, digital media

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