Marketers in the US are expected to spend about $3.7 billion on influencers this year, but it appears consumers are more likely to turn to everyday social media users for product recommendations, according to new data from Bazaarvoice.
The survey of 9,000 global consumers reveals the everyday social media user – defined by Bazaarvoice as family, friends and other connections who post day-to-day content without an incentive to promote or highlight products – is the most trusted influencer. Consumers say they are most likely to take product recommendations from an everyday user (37%) over those of subject matter experts (25%), celebrities (7%), social media stars (6%) or even a brand’s own social media account (8%).
This supports an earlier study by Kantar Media which found friends and family are the preferred source of product recommendations. Additionally, Ipsos found that consumers appear to trust customer reviews, television ads, and companies themselves over influencers.
Meanwhile, even though a similar share of respondents say subject matter experts (39%) and everyday users (38%) make the most genuine and authentic content, more than one-third (36%) agree the everyday user is more likely to give an unbiased review of a product than other influencers (subject matter experts: 3%, celebrities: 12%, social media stars: 9%).
To help curb consumer concerns about post authenticity, some countries have put restrictions in place requiring influencers to disclose if they have used filters or editing software on their posts. However, these regulations haven’t done much to build the trust of the consumer. Indeed, while 36% say they trust influencers more now than before the regulations took effect, 25% say they do not and 39% say their trust level has not changed.
Consumers take the issue of authenticity seriously. A full 8 in 10 say that it should be mandatory for influencers to disclose if they have used any editing on images, and believe that those who violate these regulations should be permanently (23%) or temporarily banned (23%) from platforms, prevented from monetizing their content in the future (21%) or face a fine (15%).
When it comes to the types of content consumers prefer, they like branded content less than ads and say they see too many branded posts on their feed. Indeed, 83% say they mostly trust posts that influencers have not been paid to promote while only 18% say they trust sponsored posts more.
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About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 9,000 global consumers.