I am old enough to remember a time when the only critics of your brand were people who had first-hand experience with it or professionals paid to publish formal reviews. Now, with Social Media, everyone is a critic.
It was reported that 3,600 people blogged about the Super Bowl commercials this year. These weren’t blogs about the Super Bowl or the halftime show; they were only about the commercials. Look at the discussion threads for some of the more controversial spots (Audi “Green Police”, Focus on the Family’s “Tebow” spot), and it is apparent that some of the posts are coming from people who didn’t even see the spots.
Similarly, my Facebook news feed is littered with rants, raves and follow-up comments across a wide range of issues. I’ve witnessed a fairly comprehensive review of the service at major auto repair facilities. I’ve formed impressions of restaurants and the food they serve based on the photos friends have posted. I’ve even been privy to heated debate about political candidates in states where I can’t even vote. In many of these cases, my overall impressions are formed not just from the initial posting, but the replies of people who jumped on the Social Media soapbox and offered a point of view even if it wasn’t based on first-hand experience.
So, will Social Media become the primary tool by which are brands will be evaluated in the future – regardless of the whether the critic has personal experience with it or not? According to Edelman’s recently released Trust Barometer, probably not. It reports that only 25% of us consider our peers credible sources of information and that we must hear the same message from 4-5 different sources before it is considered trustworthy.
However, it would be naïve to categorically dismiss Social Media generated criticism as a hot trend that provides a self-absorbed generation their 15 minutes of fame.
It is more likely that Social Media’s critical commentary will establish itself as one of those 4-5 points of influence, challenging marketers to further refine their tracking, analysis and response to address the many levels of experience it represents.
– Pam Alvord, Chief Strategist