Posted June 10, 2011 3:16 pm by with 7 comments

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We’ve all been told not to take candy from strangers, but advice is a whole different matter. According to a new report from Meebo, more than half the people surveyed went to someone they didn’t know when looking for advice on the web.

Here are some of the stats:

  • 53% of people said they want to get advice from someone who is knowledgeable about a topic, but whom they don’t know.
  • More than a third of the population (38%) turn to anonymous sources for product and service recommendations.
  • 41% of people would prefer to connect with “everyday experts” on travel information, whereas only 17% would turn to people they already know.
  • 43% would turn to unknowns for recipes or cooking-related content, while only 22% would connect with people they know.

The concept of going to a stranger for advice isn’t all that new. Before the internet, we sought outside experts to plan our vacations, sell our homes and decide on a new hairstyle. Relationship problems? Joe the bartender can help you out with that.

The good thing about asking strangers for advice is that the advice doesn’t come with strings attached. If the DIY expert on the web suggests you paint your living room blue, you can feel free to paint it yellow. If you mother suggests blue, then you could be in for trouble if you go with a sunnier shade.

On the marketing side, setting yourself up as an expert is an excellent way to promote your brand. Search Twitter for questions on your topic then answer them for all the world to see. Run Q&A days on Facebook. Load your website with helpful articles that go beyond the scope of your product.

Here’s your assignment for today, give out one tip on Facebook or Twitter. Something that will help the reader feel, look, or do something better. It will only take a moment and it will come back to you two-fold.

  • This is so interesting…I never thought about it before…But it is so true…When I seek advise it is usually outside my circle of friends…Great advise on Twitter and Facebook! Thanks for sharing this!


  • This makes absolute sense. Part of the reason is that we seek folks who have the information we want, and that is not always someone we know.

    Case in point, I want to offer a workshop in my hometown when I go there for a high school reunion. I sent email to a few friends asking for suggestions. Only one of them has responded, and he didn’t have all the details.

    At the same time, I wrote to a guy who’s a member of a travel group called who lives in my hometown. Although I’ve never met him before, he immediately understood what I wanted, did some research, and sent me a list of libraries, community centers and a restaurant that he had called to confirm what they offer.


    It’s about finding people who have knowledge, willingness and stamina to help you with a problem. Unfortunately the people you already know may not fit the bill.

  • The only problem with this is that people get their information from people online who may or may not actually be experts, I have to give people correct information all the time because they got their information from someone who had no idea what they were talking about but claimed they were an expert.

  • This is really interesting. I would have thought the opposite but when you think about it, it does make more sense to seek advice from strangers who are more knowledgeable rather than some one you know. I also agree with David, a lot of people paint themselves as professionals but often fall short with their advice. The best approach would be to ask multiple experts as well as friends and see how the advice measures up.

    Interesting Post, Thanks

  • People want the best advice they can get, and sometimes that means branching out of their social circle. If you need to know what is wrong with your car, you take it to an auto body shop, not your hairdresser. Sometimes our friends don’t have the answers we need, so we turn to anonymous sources of information.

  • That’s really interesting, Cynthia. What advice would you give to someone that wants to seen as an expert?

  • I will take advice from a stanger if I’m assured they know what they speak of and they have some kind of proof that they are knowledgeable in the area I seek. Otherwise, I do tend to ask friends and if they don’t know…I tend to ask them to ask their friends…LOL; Good Article…Thought Provoking