Consumers regard brand fans as unreliable

Home Consumers regard brand fans as unreliable

Yesterday, InSites Consulting launched the 2012 edition of its “Social Media around the World†report. One of the things that really surprised me was the results regarding reliable sources of information. Apparently brand fans have become just about the least reliable source of information.

Staff and CEOs more reliable than fans

We asked consumers the following question: “In your opinion, how reliable is the information posted on social media by each of the following persons?†People we know personally receive the highest score by far. In other words: the most important “influencers†are those closest to us, regardless of the number of followers they have. This means that instead of “influencersâ€, we should be looking at “influence†and that is something everyone has.

What really struck me was the extremely low score obtained by brand fans. Politicians were the only category to do even worse. Information presented by staff or even the company CEO is more reliable than information coming from a fan. Remarkable, isn’t it? An “ordinary†customer and his feedback and conversations therefore have more influence than feedback from a fan.

I believe it’s got everything to do with objectivity. True brand fans (that you don’t know personally) are no longer viewed as neutral individuals, hence their lack of credibility and their lack of influence on purchase decisions. This is an important conclusion to take into consideration when elaborating a social media strategy.

So what about those fans?

Does this mean we should no longer invest in recruiting fans on Facebook? Should we simply throw them out the window?

No, of course not. I still see a number of aspects where a fan represents an added value for a brand:

  • A fan is quick to share content. By sharing brand content, the brand’s reach expands. Once “ordinary†consumers also start sharing that content, its impact increases significantly.
  • A fan is usually also of financial importance to a company. It’s wonderful to have a place (e.g. Facebook) where you can strengthen the relationship with your fans. This makes them more likely to stay and, therefore, more likely to keep buying.
  • Moreover, fans are clamouring to be involved in co-creation projects. Non-fans may consider them to be unreliable, but they are often intimately familiar with the company’s range of products and services. By using their knowledge and fanship to improve existing products and services, companies can make the most of an excellent opportunity.

There may be other implications I haven’t thought of yet. Please feel free to share your opinion on the role of a “fan†in a social media plan.

Want to know more?

If you would like to learn more about the study then you should definitely check out our free research report. Just click on the following link to view and download the report.