Traditional Media, Facebook Win Credibility Contest

Traditional Media, Facebook Win Credibility Contest

Most social channels bring up the rear in earning audience trust

There is much more to how viewers and readers perceive and vet branded content than meets the eye. While newfangled digital platforms tend to dominate headlines and preferred practices by many media and PR practitioners, what’s old is new again – or, rather, it has never gone completely out of style in the first place.

According to the Acquity Group, a subsidiary of Accenture Interactive, the public still holds newspapers and magazines in high regard as media for information and news. Though usage of these forms as a primary source of current events coverage continues to decline, people still place a high level of trust in print newspapers (second place), television (fourth place) and news websites (fifth place) as credible informational sources, even when consuming branded, or company-produced, content. These were among a multitude of takeaways from Acquity’s “The New Generation of Commerce” report.

Rounding out the top five trusted channels for company- and brand-created content were Facebook, which actually came in at first place, and email, which ranked third. Other social digital channels, including Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat brought up the rear, comprising the remaining 10 ranked channels. Company- or brand-developed blogs came in the very last spot, ranked 11th.

Generational shifts and preferences underlie the findings, with Millennials (ages 23-30) and college-aged consumers (ages 18-22) ranking Facebook as their number one trusted channel, though only 16 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 52-68) share this view, perceiving print and online sources with more authority.

According to the Acquity Group, companies and organizations should not put all, or even most, of their eggs in one proverbial PR or marketing campaign basket: “Brands looking to target audiences across platforms will need to pay attention to where content is most trusted in order to reach their audience most effectively.”

Social Sharing: Surefire Impact but Hard to Come By

These days, social sites are increasingly favoring or adopting a monetized model. As a result, businesses and organizations face greater challenges in organically building a fan base and heightening consumption of content without generous advertising budgets or well-funded campaigns for each targeted social platform. This makes companies more co-dependent on fans and followers to proactively latch onto and share content with their personal networks to maximize a brand’s social success.

Competing for content shares has major implications for businesses, since it’s a tough hurdle for brands to overcome, with no guarantees viewers will pay attention or evangelize on their behalf. Per the Acquity report, social users are more apt to view content posted or shared by a friend or family member rather than the following:

  • A post by a favorite brand
  • A post that includes a discount code for a brand I’ve not shopped at before
  • A post by a brand that has been shared multiple times in my network
  • A post by a celebrity associated with a brand about that brand

“The interplay between audiences’ real-life relationships and organizations’ need to tap into these networks is very real,” says Vanessa Wakeman, CEO and founder of The Wakeman Agency. “Our teams continue to monitor the latest research in this constantly changing space, so that we can stay ahead of the curve in producing results for our clients. Our novel approaches still cut through the clutter, reaching the hearts and minds of social-change audiences, amid these very real challenges.”

One such Wakeman Agency success story involved its repeat engagement with the New York Urban League. After leading media relations for the organization’s 2010 football classic, The Wakeman Agency’s role expanded in 2011 to incorporate social media consultation as well.

“We wanted to combine both channels – traditional media relations and social media – as a way to engage generations of HBCU alumni, as well as those who wanted to contribute to the cause through the college fund,” Wakeman explains. “Football classics are a huge source of pride for many people of color, as they were among the first large-scale games that many had attended in the early days.”

The Wakeman Agency leveraged social media to tap into audiences across various generations, harnessing the groundswell of emotions and pride associated with the event. Social media fans and followers were encouraged to share their game-day memories and fashion – all the while motivating ticket purchases, spreading team spirit and advocating for a meaningful charity.

Does your experience jibe with the Acquity report’s findings? In light of this new research, which changes do you anticipate making in your organizational print media or social strategy? Join our dialogue on The Wakeman Agency’s Facebook page.

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