Just four per cent of people now trust influencers, as faith in the internet declines

Tyrone Stewart

Influencer marketingThe majority of internet users don’t have confidence in the information they see and read online, ranking influencers as the least trustworthy sources on the web.

According to research from media agency UM, which saw more than 56,000 internet users surveyed from across 81 countries, just eight per cent of people think that more than three-quarters of the information they see on social media is true. This figure falls to four per cent when it comes to influencers. Perhaps surprisingly, even governments are seen as more trustworthy (12 per cent) than influencers.

In the UK, 54 per cent of people believe most of the news they see online is fake, compared to a 46 per cent average of all users worldwide. 44 per cent of UK internet users (47 per cent globally) say they are influenced by opinions shared online, compared to 46 per cent (54 per cent globally) in 2017.

Moreover, just 36 per cent of people in the UK trust the opinions of bloggers and vloggers on products and services, compared to 42 per cent globally.

“The research highlights how headlines over the past two years have made people more aware of issues surrounding credibility and transparency on the internet. This is particularly the case with social media – scandals like Cambridge Analytica have had a huge impact on the extent to which people question what they see and hear online,” said Liz Haas, head of client insight EMEA at UM.

“Legislation like the EU’s GDPR is working towards rebuilding that trust, particularly regarding what is done with our personal data, but brands will also have a key role to play over the coming years. It’s clear that trust is fast becoming the currency of the new internet, and brands able to demonstrate that they’re transparent and responsible in the moments that matter are going to be best placed to succeed.”

The research also found that people aren’t as tied to social media as they used to be. The percentage of people who ‘worry about missing out if they don’t visit their social networks’ fell to 46 per cent globally, having been 50 per cent in 2017. In the UK, it fell from 41 per cent to 39 per cent.

People now also value streaming platforms above social media platforms. Netflix (28 per cent), YouTube (27 per cent), and Spotify (27 per cent) all ranked as being ‘a great place for someone like’ – with all the major social platforms ranking outside the top five.

At the same time, 60 per cent (51 per cent in the UK) of internet users around the world consider social networks to be ‘an integral part of their social life’.

“In an era in which the divisions between people are bought into sharp focus by events like Brexit, it’s clear consumers believe that social media has an important role to play in enabling them to feel a sense of community. This is often shaped by moments, which may be defined by how we come together in response to broader socio-political and economic events, or by the shared dates and cultural rituals within more tightly defined groups or subcultures,” said Haas.

“Either way, the social networks still have a vital role to play in how each of us shape our identities. Brands can tap in to this but have to think carefully about how they use social platforms to engage people at the specific moments that matter to them without being invasive.”