By Holly Buchanan
As more and more advertisers and brands tap into the word-of-mouth power of social media, will the very act of tapping into that power reduce it? Are more and more women skeptical of what they see, hear, and read on social media sites?
As Tony Fannin pointed out in his post about why crowd sourcing may not be the wisest thing to do -
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!
If someone tweets, “Just tried XYZ brand product and absolutely loved it!” will I now be less likely to believe it’s genuine? Probably, if I don’t know who the tweeter is. But that’s one of the key pieces to trust – who’s doing the e-talking.
For women – relationships more important than “experts”
While men trust opinions of “experts,” women trust the opinions of “people like me.” If wine industry guru Robert Parker gives a wine a high mark, that’s an indication to men and women that it’s a quality wine. However, women still want to know, “but will that wine appeal to someone like me?”
As Tony pointed out – just because someone is linked to or quoted often does not necessarily mean that person is an expert. But if I’m the mother of toddlers, and I hear another mother of toddlers talking about something, I’m probably going to listen to her experience. The more I know about her, her values, her passions, her life philosophy, the more likely I am to trust her opinion.
Details matter to women
For women, to trust or not to trust often depends on the details that are shared. The more product details and the more details about the reviewer the better. She wants to know not only that someone liked the product, but specifically why they liked the product. She also wants to know who the person or reviewer is. Again, she’s wondering, “is this person like me?”
Because she values relationships, she’s less likely to lie or fudge the truth
Women value relationships above all else. Because of that, she’s not going to recommend something to you if she thinks it’s a piece of junk. If she recommends something to you, and you don’t like it, that could hurt the relationship. There seems to be a fear out there that women bloggers will sell their soul for free products – that they will give advertisers rave reviews simply because they got something for free or got paid to do a review.
If she were to do that, she would instantly lose the trust of her readers, friends, and followers. That trust is sacred to her. She’s not going to blow those valuable relationships by giving a false review.
Advice for advertisers who want to connect with women using social media
Encourage reviewers to give details about the product and talk about why they personally liked it.
Encourage reviewers to include details about themselves, their families, their values and their lives.
Encourage her to share thoughts on how to improve the product. I know this scares a lot of advertisers – they don’t want anything negative out there, but reviews where all she does is gush aren’t as believable as reviews where she shares the good and the bad. Plus you can actually use her feedback to make improvements.
Use regular people rather than industry experts to promote your products.
Use real people as company spokespersons. Don’t just be “Brand xyz” on twitter or on Facebook. Have a real person in the company behind your social media presence, or several people. Think Barry Judge, the CMO for Best Buy. He’s not ”Best Buy” he’s “Best Buy CMO Barry Judge“ Women now have a human to interact with.
At the end of the day, the more she feels she knows you, the more likely she is to trust you. Here are some more tips on how you can earn a woman’s trust.
Holly Buchanan is the co-author of The Soccer Mom Myth – Today’s Female Consumer: Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys. You can read more at her blog Marketing to Women Online.