Harnessing Trust In Bloggers
Insights into Influencer Marketing in Canada
On April 19th the second annual CanTrust Index was released, providing a snapshot of how Canadians’ trusts in leaders, industry, and sources of information have changed over the past year.
When diving into the data to look at the world of digital influencers and bloggers, the 2017 CanTrust Index indicates that as a nation, Canadians’ overall trust in “bloggers you follow” declined slightly, coming in at 29% (down five points from last year). The combination of an overall increase in influencer marketing, fake news, and updated Canadian advertising standards mandating that influencers clearly disclose their endorsements on social media, likely all contributed to the decline in this trust score.
It’s possible that the use of #ad, #sponsorship or other such terms are having a negative effect on trust as they could imply to some readers that the content or endorsement is not authentic. Some may not have known that this type of sponsorship was already happening.
However, when looking at Canadians who are daily users of social media, their trust scores as they relate to blogs/bloggers they follow are significantly higher than the national average. For example, 47% of daily Instagram users, 40% of daily YouTube visitors and 34% of daily Facebook users have a high level of trust for blogs/bloggers they follow compared to the national average of 29%.
A few other interesting points from the CanTrust Index:
- Blogger content is shareable content, meaning the ripple effect of a blogger partnership cannot be understated. The CanTrust Index indicates that 42% of Canadians trust information shared on social media by friends or family members. Further, the second most trusted source for information about a product, service, brand or organization is “word-of-mouth/recommendations from people I know” (coming in at 74%). When we share or talk about a post by a blogger we follow, the reach goes well beyond a blogger’s immediate “followers” and can easily translate into – or fuel – word of mouth.
- New Canadians, who make up 20% of the population, are among the most trusting. The CanTrust Index indicates that their trust overall is growing year over year. The same seems to hold true when it comes to influencer marketing, as new Canadians’ trust score came in at 36%, seven percent higher than the national average.
- When it comes to trust in “blogs from bloggers you follow” there is a meaningful gap in trust based on one’s age. Trust rises as age decreases. Trust among those 25-49 is at 33% and those 18-24 is at 36%. Millennials constitute a large segment within this age range.
So, how can marketers use the insights generated through this data to their advantage?
- Channel your trust. As stated above, daily social media users have a significantly stronger level of trust in the bloggers they follow than the national average. And some channels garner more trust than others. Further, trust in influencers can be swayed by an individual’s perception of whether the content is authentic. So selecting an influencer who is “native” to a specific channel will help ensure that the content they create is viewed as authentic. In other words, selecting the channel that your consumers trust the most can help make your influencer content more trustworthy – and thereby – work even harder for you.
- Small, but mighty. It can be very attractive to select an influencer who has a huge following and public awareness. But going the opposite route by working with a “microinfluencer” (those with between 500-10,000 genuine social media followers) is an alternate approach whereby you may need to partner with more people, but each individual brings with them an exponential level of trust. Microinfluencers tend to have dedicated and loyal followers and generally enjoy higher engagement rates. They are followed because their content is viewed as valuable. Their opinions are deemed authentic. And their recommendations are thereby trusted.
- Vet for authenticity. The process used to vet and select an influencer partner is vital. I’ve now touched upon how to look differently at qualifiers such as the number of followers or reach. Smart marketers are now considering whether potential influencer partners are aligned with both the company’s brand and values as the starting point. Adopting a quality over quantity approach builds relationships grounded in the love of a brand and will contribute to the development of authentic content – which is essential to fostering and building trust.
Bottom line: Do your homework to understand where your customer’s attention is and who is influencing their opinion. Then select the right influencers who are naturally aligned with your organization’s brand and values. By doing so, you will be better positioned to create authentic shareable content and earn/maintain the endlessly valuable element of trust. You can learn more about the 2017 CanTrust Index findings and download the full report.