by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded
It’s been said that crowd sourcing is the new way to find the best information, products and services. In fact, the business of Search is based on this. For example, Google’s algorithms is built on the premise that the more links a site gets, the better the information it must have regardless of who writes it or creates it. In the early years of search, that may be true. Now, it’s becoming apparent that this is a major flaw. Even Google has admitted to this “hole” and is trying to find a fix. (read “Googled” by Ken Auletta for excellent insights).
Here’s the problem. The “crowd”, more often than not, doesn’t know what is good information and what isn’t. That’s how rumors and misinformation gets traction. Too often people believe, “If it’s on the the internet, it must be true.” or “All these people can’t be wrong.” I do believe the concept of 2 heads are better than 1, but it depends on the two heads. If they are idiots or don’t know what they are doing, I’d rather go with the one head that does know what they are doing. Here are some other interesting information that is coming to light:
• Based on a research report by Edleman in Chicago, there is a significant drop in trust in social media referrals. In 2008 over 45% of people trusted what social media said about a company. By the end of 2009, it dropped to 25%. Almost half!
• The trust in opinions of “average Joe’s” has been steadily decreasing year after year, experts have been gaining trust each year to the tune of 64%, gaining 2 more percentage points over 2009.
So what does all of this mean in terms of marketing, branding, and advertising? For one, though social media is hear to stay, the weight it carries is beginning to diminish. Even Twitter, the current social media darling, is still trying to gain wide acceptance. According to a Business Week survey, the media and advertisers have jumped on the bandwagon, but consumers have not. If a vast majority of consumers don’t buy in, it won’t be a platform for marketers. Second, people are beginning to realize there is a real difference in sources of information. The web has started to become a place where there is too much information that is just chatter with no substance or value. In fact, there’s more useless information online than there is on TV. I go back to the concept of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Voices of real expertise and authority are becoming more valuable and trust-worthy even though they don’t get the largest amounts of links and don’t rank in Google’s top 10 in search. Finally, this opens a window of opportunity to set your brand apart. By being a valuable resource, demonstrating that your brand is truly an expert and educating what are the hallmarks of excellence in your category, you’ll be able to establish a real credibility with your core customer.
If marketers can set themselves apart as experts in what they offer, whether it’s removing stains or delivering the perfect cheesecake experience, they will stand a better chance at making their brands THE voice of authority in their arena. Though the wisdom of crowds, in theory, work at times, most of the innovations and advances come from those who buck the trend, ignore the crowds, and establish themselves as unique. Not a follower.