What I found most interesting, however, was some of the general social media sentiment from the research that showed just how far social as to go to supplant search as a primary source of purchasing data for some areas of consumerism. Check out this chart.
We want to think that because there is an implied relationship in social networks that they would be at the top of the recommendation food chain but people still trust a mediated result that is determined by a much less personal decision helper called an algorithm. Is this just because people have gotten used to turning to search for answers or do people really trust search more than their “friends”?
The next chart shows that this trust in social signals as it relates to influencing purchases is growing but it’s not the kind of thing that is simply handed over. What jumps out in this chart is the significant growth from 2009 to 2010 but the much slower rate of growth in this area from 2010 to 2011. Could it be that the more experienced people get with social networking the more jaded they are becoming as to the true value of what their network has to offer with regard advice? Maybe, maybe not.
All in all, social for marketers is still in its nascent stage. We read all day every day about how people have it figured out and thus promote their sure fire ways to bring success through marketing on Facebook etc, etc. People who are really serious about this discipline and are truly thinking about what is happening in the online marketing space realize that there is nothing to really “figure out”. Instead it becomes more of a mindset of accepting the growing role of social in the online marketing world while giving it a fair amount of latitude regarding how it plays out.
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It’s impossible to master anything that could have changed while you were reading this post. Once people relax with this reality they are more likely to follow some of the sound advice offered by the likes of this Forrester report.
So what’s your take? Is search more trusted than social at this point? Why or why not? What are the variables that come into play when someone decides which is a better decision influencer? Is it age? Is it online experience? So many questions but fortunately there are so many pilgrims to provide opinions and answers so let’s hear it!