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Monday, Apr. 7, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Are Friends More Influential Than “Influencers”?

By Robert Gorell
April 7th, 2008

This may not come as a shock, but new research suggests that, yes, our friends are more influential than so-called “influencers” like bloggers.

According to MediaPost,

…a new study from Canadian research firm Pollara, self-described social media users put far more trust in friends and family online than in popular bloggers, or strangers with 10,000 MySpace “friends.”

Of more than 1,100 adults polled in December, nearly 80% said they were very or somewhat more likely to consider buying products recommended by real-world friends and family, while only 23% reported being very or somewhat likely to consider a product pushed by “well-known bloggers.”

But what if your friend happens to be a “well-known blogger”?

When Bryan swings by the office between conferences — as he did this morning, after speaking at eMetrics Summit last week in Toronto — there’s always some new website, product, blog or book he’s recommending. This time around, he had a stack of books. “Pick one,” he said. So I grabbed a copy of Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov’s Online Shopping Through Consumers’ Eyes.

“It’s a quick read,” Bryan insisted. “Lots of great research in there.”

I haven’t read it yet, but the first page I flipped to had a chart, illustrating that “86.6% of online users would actually follow recommendation links/advice sent to them by their friends and peers.”

Before I had a chance to share that with Bryan, he was already onto the next thing.

“Have you seen yet,” he asked. “It’s brilliant. You can upload your entire trip itinerary — not just flights, but everything — and email it or text it out to friends and family in one step.”

Sure enough, I put down the book and went to to check it out. (Sorry, Bryan, but I researched it because you’re a friend, not because you’re a “well-known blogger.” ;) )

UPDATE: More interesting stuff on this topic from MediaPost.

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Comments (4)

  1. Glad I’m your friend, buddy.

  2. Well thsese research findings seem to be a given? Obviously we would trust the input of trusted family and friends over a blogger who does not know us.

  3. Brick Marketing,

    Absolutely. But there’s a trend among marketers who focus on social media (and maybe I should have harped on this a bit more in the post) to label certain people as “influencers”; the connotation being that it’s likely for people who are less removed from you personally to be more influential, just by virtue of how many people they reach. Pretty ironic considering that social media is supposed to be so different from mass media — and it is.

    Although pretty obvious to us, this research illustrates once again that WHO you reach is far more important than HOW MANY you reach; or rather that the person from whom you hear it, and who you might influence to hear it, is far more important than how many people they, or you, can reach.

    I read it as saying that in order to be effective in spreading word-of-mouth, marketers should be more concerned with creating ways for brand advocates — excited customers — to spread the word within their own circles than whether a handful of people with so-called social media “influence” (those with thousands of Twitter and Facebook “friends”) are evangelizing their brands.

  4. Remember, friends are a tribe and therein lies the power.

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