Bloggers are losing credibility, social media is turning suspect and “owned media” – where companies hire journalists, writers and producers to create and distribute their own “content” – is officially dubious.
Anyone who has kept one eye open in the past 12 months will no doubt be punch drunk from the wave of excitement big brands and institutions have invested in their own content and shipped through their own “customer-media” networks and beyond to the grab bag of new digital channels desperate to transmit stuff – any stuff.
But the latest figures from the worldwide “Trust Barometer” study from global PR outfit Edelman paints an intriguing picture of the amount of trust and credibility enjoyed by traditional media and the hot new siblings in the blogosphere, social media and microblogging like Twitter. In a nutshell, the credibility of these new channels sucks.
In the past year the trust that Australians place in social media as a credible source of news and information has plummeted 21 percentage points to 18 per cent. The so-called “owned media” channel, which is information created and distributed by companies and brands themselves, dropped 11 points to 26 per cent in Edelman’s latest study. These are seriously concerning figures.
Social and “owned” media channels are without question where the big brand owners and corporate institutions are focusing much of their attention. Marketing budgets are being re-cut to invest in these new platforms with breathtaking ambitions to resolve the lack of credibility and interest from the broader population for everything else they do and say. But it looks like the blogging, social media and “owned media” evangelists are not going to have it quite as good as they have been preaching.
Traditional media is also losing credibility
Let’s not get too carried away here; traditional media in Australia has also been hit with a drop in credibility in the past year. Punters who trust newspapers, TV and radio have dropped 10 points in the past year to 54 per cent. But traditional media still has more than double the trust levels of the new digital prancers.
This should be a critical point of interest for the $30 billion marketing industry because so much faith is being put in emerging social, blogging and owned media channels as a great hope for corporate propaganda and consumer “engagement”.
Many brands, institutions and management teams will discover pain and disappointment soon. Some are already. Metrics like Facebook “likes” to a brand page and Twitter “trending” stats are often ridiculously lightweight measures for corporate performance but used relentlessly to justify social media nous. They are media channels which demand attention and investment but they should not be overcooked as the be-all.
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