Even though people still trust offline media advertising more than any other form of advertising, social marketing and “one voice” blogging can become the exception in the coming year.
When you dump “word of mouth” advertising into the pot you get a wider view of the power of showing up on a “one voice” blog in your target market. Word of mouth is the most trusted form of advertising on which decisions are made almost instantaneously by people who trust the “mouth” giving the word.
“Despite an ever-expanding array of advertising platforms and sources, consumers around the world still place their highest levels of trust in other consumers, according to a recent global Nielsen Internet survey.” See the full study at Nielson.
In blogging, one way to measure trust is via RSS feed subscriber counts. Not at any given time, but by how the feed count grows and how long people stay subscribed.
Trust can also be measured by what the blogger has generated in affiliate commissions for products endorsed in the last year. One would expect with a high degree of certainty that conversions are higher for trusted one voice blogs than any other form of affiliate marketing. They certainly have been for me and my clients since we started blogging and building trust.
Search Engines Get A Bad Rap As Peer Marketing (Social Marketing) Grows
Search marketing is all the rage and is what gets the most attention and books written about it.� But applied surveys are showing people are starting to look elsewhere first for opinions on products and services from their peers (other consumers). Then they use the search engines to find merchants because they know they will be hit with a lot of advertising when they Google, and the merchant or best price is bound to be in one of the ads.
This says a lot about what people are starting to think about search engines as they’ve become more and more financially successful vie more and more advertising. If people are starting to think of engines more as billboards or yellow pages, this doesn’t bode well for the traditional search industry.
Indications are that more and more searches are started on non-traditional sites than on Google, Yahoo, or MSN. They’d almost have to since new vertical search and community sites pop up every time you blink. People definitely are finding value in social sites and communities where they feel fewer people there have something gain (other than good will) by reviewing or recommending a product or service.
More People are Digging Before They Buy
An excellent article entitled “Searching for Alternatives” was done by Alexandra Wharton for Revenue Magazine. Wharton reports that people are using sites like Digg.com to see what their peers or other regular consumers of a product think before they hit the “bias engines” to find the best deal. That’s word of mouth advertising on the web. Digg searches very often end up on blogs, one voice blogs, where people feel a high degree of trust even if they aren’t subscribers or have never seen the blog before.
This is based solely on the fact that people trust other people, not marketers or manufacturers, first and foremost.
Social Marketing Silly?
So, still think social marketing is a “silly waste of time?” Lots and lots of people made such brash statements about social media marketing last year. Yet with more and more people using alternate methods to search for and read up on products and services of all kinds, now is a very bad time to get caught saying such things.
Consumers are actually using sites like StumbleUpon.com, Reddit.com, Digg.com and many other “peer information finding engines” and are straying away for the traditional use of algorithm-based search engines which are becoming known for heavy advertising and less trust of results.
Algorithm search is becoming popular for finding the right place to buy something after you’ve made up your mind to buy based on what your peers are saying about the product over at Digg or TechCrunch.
So my questions are, how much social media marketing is in your marketing plan and are you putting your business in front of people looking for trusted information on which to base their buying decisions? Can any trusted information be found on your products or services? Or are all your eggs in the in-your-face advertising methods that are turning people away in growing numbers?
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