Edelman survey: Trust in all media plunges!

People's trust in their peers has fallen sharply, bad news for social media gurus. But, all forms of media are affected...
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

The annual Edelman Trust Barometer always has interesting results. The tenth survey consisted of 4,875 interviews (25 years to 64 years):

The finding that jumped out at me was this:
- Trust in information from friends and peers, "people like me," dropped by 20 points, from 47 to 27 percent.

- Trust in information from digital media--blogs, social networks, and free content sources like Wikipedia or Google news, remains low: only between 11 percent and 22 percent of respondents express trust in information about companies from these sources.

This is bad news for PR agencies because social media has been the 'point of the spear' for so many firms. This is what brings in new business. This is bad news for all the 'social media experts' out there trying to convince companies to buy their services because of the potential brand damage from not responding to 'conversations' in social media.

What's the point in jumping to engage if people don't trust their peers anyway?

This is bad news for many startups that offer real-time monitoring of the 'social' web. There is less need for their services. But it's not just social media...

Other types of media have also fallen in the Edelman Trust Barometer, but not to the same degree as trust in peers.

- Trust in credibility of TV news declined by 20 points, from 44 to 24 percent.

- Trust in news coverage on the radio dropped by 17 points, from 48 to 31 percent.

- Trust in newspapers fell by 14 points, from 46 to 32 percent.

- Only 38 percent trust media (as an institution) to do what is right, down from 46 percent in 2008.

- Media companies (as an industry) have declined in credibility by 16 points (from 48 to 32 percent).

- In the U.S., media companies are tied with the insurance industry for last place. Banks are second from the bottom.

- Top trusted industry is technology and it has widened its lead over other industries.

- Tied for the second most trusted industry is Biotech and Automotive at 63 percent, followed by Energy, Retail and Food at 61 percent.

But why is ALL media less trustworthy?

- Is it because we now have more media now than ever before, both social and traditional sources of media?

- Is it because more of any thing, devalues that thing? We have more media in more forms, at more times, than at anytime in our history. Is trust in media being lost because trust has become more diluted?

- Traditional media still leads as a source for social media. But traditional media is under pressure, with fewer resources. That means more mistakes, less time to check sources, resulting in a lower quality product. That can't be good for building trust in media.

- Is social media losing trust because of all the social media marketeers that seem to be the loudest voices in many streams?

That would make it seem as if social media can be manipulated, or used to an advantage by businesses. Which is exactly what the social media mavens are saying. A key finding of the Edelman Trust Barometer is that trust in businesses is fragile.

Therefore, is it business involvement in social media that is affecting people's trust in social and traditional media?

The Edelman survey has raised some interesting questions...

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