Did the Influencer Bubble Just Burst?

What do the BBC, Google, Amazon and social media influencers all have in common? According to a Mindshare survey of UK customers, they all have zero (or worse) credibility.

“Most UK consumers believe the BBC, Amazon, Google and social media influencers have zero credibility, according to Mindshare’s Power to the People report, which also found that 70% of the public believe brands should not get away with virtue-signaling unless it is backed with behavior,” writes Ben Bold in Campaign.

“The study,” Bold continues, “which is being released at the WPP agency’s annual Huddle event, found that 57% of consumers believe brands that associate with good causes are doing so purely for positive publicity. However, 53% think that even if a brand is using an ethical message to sell more product, some wider good can come of it.”

Not surprisingly, younger consumers are harsher judges of brand character and place massive importance on trust. Bold notes that 75% believe brands need to step up and take responsibility for the environment, while 66% think it’s a good idea for brands to unite to solve problems for the greater good.

Image Source: Campaign

Researchers subtracted negative sentiment from positive sentiment to attempt to arrive at credibility scores to different organizations. When it came to overall credibility, the survey respondents made on thing very clear: the vast majority of the content we consume is not credible, scoring dismally on the credibility spectrum: -42% for advertising, -50% for social media, -53% for politician, and -54% for social media influencers. Given these scores, I suppose news media should be grateful for their -%18 score. The BBC ranks better at -2%, and only charities scored in the positive numbers, notes Bold.

Do UK consumers trust anyone or anything anymore? Turns out, they do.

“Consumers are apt to put trust in their fellow consumers when it comes to product and service reviews,” Bold continues. “Three-fifths (61%) said reviews give them an objective means of understanding how good or bad a product was, half said reviews influence their buying decisions across a broader range of products than in the past and 35% said they often buy products they had not heard of before after reading good feedback.”

Image source: Campaign

It’s heartening to see newspapers and magazines continue to rank higher in credibility than most online sources; that dovetails with other research that print magazine ads can and do raise the trust factor for brands. Yet it’s still sobering to realize that we are all marketing and selling to such a cynical bunch in the UK (and yes, probably just as cynical here at home).