Online Influencers Wary of Fakes


The most influential consumers—those who are likely to recommend products to friends and family—are growing skeptical of the opinions they find on product review sites and community forums, according to a new study.

WPP Group PR shop Burson-Marsteller in August surveyed 1,000 influential consumers’ trust of online reviews. The study found that, compared to a similar poll conducted five years ago, an increasing number of consumers believed that fake reviews or positive comments left by corporations are a problem. About 30 percent said this is a big problem, compared with 20 percent in 2001. >>Full Story

Thoughts// While marketers may have figured out that seeding comments on a blog or message board is a great way to gain publicity and buzz, it turns out that consumers have figured that they don’t like it. While the study does not present any ground-breaking results, it does begin to discuss the issue that some consumers are becoming skeptical of some forms of user-generated content.

To that point, as marketers, we have a responsibility to ensure that we use this medium properly or risk alienating consumers from user-generated content sites (as we know them).

“There’s now a skepticism of what is happening online and an expectation [that] if you’re in a community site and a commercial entity [is] being discussed, there’s someone paid to be weighing in.”

While the article should not deter open and honest marketers from using new media and social sites to communicate with an audience, it should make you pause and consider if your approach to this type of marketing is completely transparent.

“There’s no rocket science here: transparency matters,” she said. “Those entities that are the most transparent and say, ‘It’s us and we’re proud of what we’re saying,’ do far better than those organizations that don’t reveal themselves.”

I could not have said it better myself.

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