Posted January 28, 2011 2:13 am by with 2 comments

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It’s time for the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer! Trust me when I say, you’re going to want to hear this.

According to the survey, there’s been a pretty big shift in whom we trust to give us credible information. In both 2009 and in the current report, academics and experts got the biggest vote of confidence with 62% and 70% respectively. But in 2009, “Person like yourself” got 47% of the vote, but in 2011 that number dropped to 43%.

Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital wrote an excellent article about the Trust Barometer survey and I like his take on this particular drop.

I believe the reason for this is that, as more of us join social networks, there’s been a devaluation in the entire concept of “friendship.” A separate survey found that people don’t know 20 percent of their Facebook friends. Consider that “unfriend” was Oxford’s word of the year for 2009.

But here’s where it gets weird. The trust metric for CEO’s jumped up from 31% in 2009 to 50% in the new survey. Seriously? Suddenly we have trust in what the CEO’s of companies are telling us? How did that happen?

Maybe this new found trust factor comes from the fact that CEO’s appear to be more transparent these days, more accessible to the general public. Not to mention the fact that half of them look like college kids who just came from a frat party (excuse me a moment while I adjust my bifocals and shawl.)

Another related shift came in the form of this question: where do you go first for news about a company? In 2009, the top tier (29%) went to online search engine. Now the lowly search engine has dropped to 16%, bested by online news sources and print.

People saying bad things about you on the web? That’s cause to worry, because 59% of the survey respondents said they believe it if they hear it 3-5 times.  No wonder those celebrity death rumors on Twitter take hold so fast.

The Trust Barometer has tons more information but they sum it up neatly with this very simple graphic that shows how companies have had to change over the years.

In the past, it was all about controlling the flow of information making sure the public only saw what you wanted them to see. These days, however, it’s transparency that precedes trust.

Who do you trust?

  • Wow, the CEO trust level is quite shocking to me as well! Like you said however, they are becoming more transparent and are of the younger generation so that could have something to do with it. On another note, people saying that they will believe something if they see it 3-5 times does worry me a little. The Internet is such a competitive place these days and many people and companies have started using negative marketing (say negative stuff about competitors in hopes that their customers will go to the business making the negative remarks). The company being spoken of negatively could be a really great company but because people and other companies take the easy way out, it leads Internet users and customers to believe that they cannot trust them and that’s a shame.

  • It truly has shifted from editing to sheer transparency and I, for one, think this is a very good thing. Businesses have been able to get away with poor products and shoddy services for far too long. Social media is leveling the playing field for those of us who are small business owners ready to compete with the big guys at last.

    Fascinating post, thank you!