McCarthy Group Study: “Millennials trust their friends, not advertising”

Ragan PR refers us to a new study by The McCarthy Group which demonstrates, yet again, that word of mouth and social media trump paid ads, particularly for young people.

A new study from the McCarthy Group finds that millennials don’t trust advertising and sales messages, giving this type of communication an average score of 2.2 out of 5. They trust company websites slightly more (2.7), but not nearly as much as they trust their closest friends (4).

The study, “Engaging Millennials: Trust and Attention Survey,” also showed that 84 percent do not trust advertising, while nearly half (47 percent) say the one thing they could not live without is the Internet. Air? Water? Food? Nope. Internet.

These findings are very much in sync with those presented by corporate marketing expert Mark Schaefer in a recent Vocus webinar on “Overcoming Content Shock. ” According to Schaefer, the internet is being flooded with content, making it increasingly difficult for users to keep up and for advertisers to get noticed.

How do companies cut through this information overload? One suggestion by Schaeffer was to think of content as “social currency,” in which people are more likely to consume content that makes them look “cool,” “smart,” and “more relevant in some way.” If the content does those things, then people will be more likely to share it with their friends. Another advantage to going this route is that when people share content with friends, it is more likely to both get through people’s increasingly stringent “filters” and to be viewed as credible.  Because, in the end, Schaefer argues that we buy and sell things from people we know and trust. This means that companies which succeed in being more “human,” more “trusted,” will be more likely to succeed, while those that don’t will be in a world of hurt.

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