Edelman Trust Barometer 2012 says trust in social media is up

The latest installement of the Edelman Trust Barometer has now been published and as usual, it is interesting reading. This year, there have been some dramatic changes in the views of the public in most of the countries surveyed. Trust in government, business and NGO’s is declining while trust in media is rising.

Trust in government shows an exceptionally sharp drop in the 2012 Barometer, after rising steadily for four years. In Sweden (“informed public”), trust in government is quite stable, dropping only from 64% to 62%, making Sweden the market with the fourth highest level of trust in government. Trust in business is also decreasing, although in Sweden it is acutally up from 52% to 54%, possibly thanks to the relatively stable Swedish economy compared to many other countries.

If we look at different media sources, it is interesting to see the dramatic increase in trust in social media, now almost at the same level as corporate information. Note: responses are for “informed public”, i.e. college educated, high income, high media consumption.


Overall, there is a huge drop in trust for CEO’s while trust in pers such as regular employees and “a person like yourself” is increasing dramatically.


In other words, there is less trust in messages communicated by CEO’s through traditional corporate channels and increased trust in messages from our peers, communicated through for example social media channels. There’s a lot more to read and you’ll find the whole presentation here below.

Can you trust TechCrunch enough to share their stories?

TechCrunch is the second most influential blog on the planet according to Technorati and with such authority comes a huge responsibility. Thousands of readers read the content and spread links to newsworthy articles to even more readers via Digg, Delicious, Twitter and so on. Unfortunately many people only scan headlines and quickly read the through the content which means that if a story is not correct, misleading information quickly spreads across the web.

TechCrunch yesterday published a story with the headline “Google Maps Don’t Lie. Sweden And Canada Among Worst Greenhouse Gas Emitters.” How sensational, those self-righteous Swedes are worse than Americans. Yay, I can keep my Hummer. Such a provocative headline obviously appeals to a lot of people who share the story with their friends. Tweetmeme has tracked 166 tweets about the article so far and most of them just recycle the headline and the link. The problem is that the entire story is bunk for several reasons.

First of all, the data that the article is based upon shows that Sweden has had the highest increase (in percent) in green house gases from 1990 to 2006 (with 110%). While that indeed looks bad it does not mean that Sweden a) emits most of all countries or b) emits most per capita. To the contrary, a quick look at the data reveals that the US and many other countries emit many times more per capita than Sweden.

Second, as is revealed in the comments, the map is based on incorrect data. Sweden has produced a new report with updated data that show that Swedish emissions in 2006 were at level with 1990 (zip file). In other words, not even an increase compared to 1990.

The first point above is just the result of poor journalism by TechCrunch, but the second point is harder to foresee. But readers quickly pointed out the first mistake that the writer Erick Schonfeld had made so it wouldn’t have been especially hard to correct the misleading headline and content. But Schonfeld apparently didn’t see it that way, instead he posted denigrative responses to reader comments.

“Do you dare question a Google Map?”

“Where did you learn to read, Sweden?”

“That is the default map. Go petition the UN (or Google) if you think it is misleading.”

Instead of doing the right thing and using the input from readers to improve a poor article, TechCrunch chose to leave incorrect statements up on their site. Instead of subscribing to Dan Gillmor’s view that “my readers know more than I do”, TechCrunch apparently think that their readers are idiots (and that Swedes can’t read).

Any leading publication today, be it a blog or a traditional newspaper, must take responsibility for the content they publish if they want to keep any sort of credibility. Everone makes mistakes, but news is shared at lightning speed today and if you are the source of incorrect information that spread across the web, you should do everything in your power to stop the false information from spreading any further. If not, how can anyone trust you in the future?

I didn’t expect this kind of behaviour from a leading blog in 2009. Big fail.

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More trust in business than in government says Trust Barometer

The international PR agency Edelman today released their ninth Trust Barometer which showed that the respondents (3,100 representatives of the “opinion elite” – college-educated, wealthy, well-informed individuals in 18 countries) have more trust in business than in government, in 14 out of those 18 countries.

“Global companies headquartered in Sweden, Germany, and Canada are the most trusted; companies headquartered in China, Mexico, and Russia are on the bottom of the list”, the press release says.

The entire study will be presented at the World Economic Forum that opens on Wednesday in Davos. Another interesting finding is that “a person like myself” is the most trusted source for information (58% trust “me”, slightly above financial/industry analysts at 57%, academics at 56% and healthcare specialists at 55%). Respondents also have more trust in a regular emplyoee than in the company CEO.

If you bear with me for a few more days I will give you the views of Swedish bloggers on the same topic. In my BlogSweden3/BloggSverige3 survey of 1,000 Swedish blog readers I also asked who they trust most as a spokesperson for a company. I am soon done with the report, so stay tuned.

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Swedish companies the most trusted in the world

The last few days, Swedish media have been reporting about brand consultant Simon Anholt who talked at a seminar in Stockholm this week. Mr Anholt called Sweden “a Switzerland with sex appeal” already three months ago. And it turns out you can be both sexy and trustworthy. Edelman, one of the world’s largest PR agencies, have just published the 2007 Edelman Trust Barometer and it contains a number of interesting findings. The survey revealed that “companies headquartered in Sweden and Canada are the most trusted globally; Brazilian, Mexican and Russian companies are the least trusted.”

We can also see that for the third straight year, American brands operating in Europe continue to receive a trust discount. For example, McDonald’s is trusted by 60% of respondents in the United States and by only 26% across the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

Furthermore, according to the survey “A person like me” is the most trusted spokesperson across the European Union, North America, and Latin America. In Asia, it is second to physicians. This underlines the importance for businesses to manage relations with channels where “persons like me” meet, like blogs and community sites. And with physicians…

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In me we trust

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2006, global opinion leaders say their most credible source of information about a company is now “a person like me”.

In the U.S., trust in “a person like me” increased from 20% in 2003 to 68% today. Opinion leaders also consider rank-and-file employees more credible spokespersons than corporate CEOs (42% vs. 28% in the U.S.).

Also interesting is that trust in government is low in the U.S. (38%) but high in China (83%, up from 63% in ’05).