Facebook is the most trusted online platform for product reviews and recommendations -- beating out blogs, retail Web sites, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter and Google+.
The Social Recommendation Index sponsored by Social
Media Link found that 63% of the 10,337 active social media users trust product reviews and recommendations on blogs and retail Web sites; 56% on Pinterest; 51% on YouTube; and 41% on Twitter and
Google+. About 93% of the participants were women, and 70% were between the ages of 25 and 44.
The findings point to a shift in trust by consumers searching for information on social sites.
Some 77% of survey participants admit to purchasing products after reading fewer than 10 reviews. The study also reveals that positive rather than negative experiences drive social-media sharing. About 78% of respondents said they share information based on their experience. Less than half, or 47%, said a negative experience prompted a review.
Personal stories influence customer buying behavior compared with the star ratings seen alongside the reviews. In fact, 40% of those surveyed said the most valuable reviews are those that contain personal stories rather than a list of product benefits, which were most valuable to 34%. Only 15% view star ratings as the most valuable when it comes to influencing purchase.
Close friends and family members carry the greatest weight when it comes to reviews and recommendations, at 86%. Nearly 40% are influenced by blogger reviews, but only 11% said they take the opinion of paid bloggers and celebrity endorsements into consideration when making purchases.
Freebies impact whether consumers trust the review or the recommendation. Some 86% trust friends and family who received a free product in exchange for a review, 68% say they trust friends and family reviews that are pay-for-play, and free-blogger reviews carry about 76% consideration. Only 45% trust paid blog reviews.
The survey was conducted in October. Some 10,337 respondents in the Smiley360 social community who enjoy sharing their thoughts about brands answered a 20-question online survey. Many of the brands that are looking for an honest opinion and valuable feedback provide members with free products.