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May 24, 2016

Who do consumers trust online?

Increasingly, consumers are being influenced by popular individuals online when making purchasing decisions. These individuals have become known as social media influencers. Within this context, businesses who are looking to build strong e-commerce operations need to ask themselves; who do consumers trust online?

Trust is a core business asset, according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer. In its Executive Summary, the study

Who do consumers trust

reveals that 80% of respondents admitted that they have bought a product or service because they trust the company behind it. Meanwhile, 68% have recommended a business they trust to a friend or colleague, suggesting that endorsements often inform purchasing decisions.

As digital technology advances, consumers are increasingly turning to sources other than family and friends to inform their purchasing behaviour. Bright Local’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey suggests that 88% of respondents now trust online reviews and personal recommendations in equal measure.

Social media influencers

The Independent reports research from Twitter and analytics firm Annalect suggests that consumers are increasingly looking to social media influencers for purchasing advice. The term ‘social media influencers’ refers to individuals who build massive followings via sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and then use their “internet celebrity” status to recommend products and services to followers.

Around 40% of respondents say that they have purchased a product or service online after seeing it used by an influencer on YouTube, Vine, Twitter or Instagram. Two in ten (20%) say they have shared a product or service with others online that after seeing it endorsed by an influencer.

Changing endorsement market

Commenting on this survey, Twitter’s Director of Market Research and Insights Jeffery Graham said: “I think what this is telling us is that you don’t have to be a mass media star or a household name to be influential and actually drive people to buy stuff. Continuing, Graham explained:

“But actually, this whole cadre of influencers through social media – especially Twitter because that’s what we know about from the research – are driving a lot of purchases by a lot of people.” The point Graham is making is that social media has changed the product endorsement market. A generation ago, a household name would be placed on a product to foster consumer goodwill. Now, social media influencers can decide which products to endorse, instead of being chosen to do so.

Far-reaching influence

It is hard to overestimate the power of social media influencers. Just look at UK-based YouTube star Zoella. She rose to prominence by posting shopping advice videos and makeup tutorials on YouTube from her bedroom in Brighton. Zoella has since gathered millions of followers online and has become so powerful that she was featured on Debrett’s 500 most influential people in Britain list in 2015.

Recognising her influence, cosmetics chain Superdrug has partnered with Zoella. Fashion publication Glamour writes that Zoella released her first ever range of beauty products with Superdrug in 2014 and they sold out on the first day of sale. She went on to launch her ‘Tutti Fruity’ range of beauty products with the same brand in 2015.

The line was released online via Superdrug.com at midnight, proving a massive hit for the cosmetics chain. Its website received double the amount of visitors than normal, with 25% of users heading straight for Superdrug.com’s Zoella page.

Brands and influencers

It is vital that brands secure return on investment with their online marketing campaigns. Establishing trust is the key to developing the consumer goodwill necessary to market goods and services via digital platforms.

Therefore, Twitter and Annalect’s research suggests that brands can benefit by partnering with social media influencers. By adopting this strategy, companies can position themselves as a trusted brand to a social media influencer’s considerable following.

If you would like to discuss how to develop a trusted brand via social media platforms and other digital channels please contact me at simon@igniyte.com or call me on +44(0)203 542 8689.

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