By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the statistic: according to Forrester Research, a whopping 32 percent of online consumers trust a stranger’s opinion on public forums or blogs more than they trust branded advertisements and marketing collateral. Over the past few weeks, it’s been published, republished, pontificated on and generally beaten to death throughout marketing media.
The vast majority of opinion on the stat is resolutely negative. Many see it as confirmation of the inevitable erosion of trust between consumers and the companies hoping to serve them – proof that brands need to shift resources into social media and adopt practices that assume a trust gap exists between the two parties.
While there is some truth in that, I see it as an opportunity. Brands should take the stat as a challenge and focus on building trust by listening to consumers and honoring their privacy and preferences. The brands that get it right – the exceptions to the trend – will stand out and succeed.