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Rising skepticism toward influencers sparks shift in consumer trust

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, a recent Reddit study sheds light on the diminishing trust in influencers and AI algorithms among consumers, prompting marketers to address the growing wave of skepticism.

The study revealed a significant erosion of trust in the authenticity of influencers’ recommendations, leading to concerns about the impact on consumer confidence. A notable finding from the study highlighted that twice as many U.S. Gen Z social-media users, aged 18 to 26, are expected to rely less on influencers in the next five years.

Rob Gaige, Reddit’s Head of Global Insights, emphasized that trust in recommendations is declining, with over half of social media users suspecting that bots generate fake product reviews on platforms like Amazon. Gaige explained that online communities, such as Reddit, are becoming increasingly influential in shaping consumer trust, with one in four Reddit posts being recommendations.

“We’ve been dominated by search algorithms and influencers for the past five to 10 years, but consumers have started to lose trust in those channels. They understand there are competing incentives at play, such as recommendations and summaries driven by artificial intelligence (AI), as well as fake sponsored listings and reviews,” Gaige stated.

The study highlighted shifting preferences among social media users, as approximately 40% reported hearing about products and services through search engines, influencers, or platforms like Amazon. However, a growing perception of these resources as unsafe, impersonal, and untrustworthy is prompting a reevaluation of their credibility.

Consumers are increasingly seeking direct interaction with brands, and Reddit forums provide a platform for such engagement. Gaige noted that Reddit offers an opportunity for brands to connect with early adopters, with 74% of people using the platform to challenge their thinking and views.

Gaige pointed out that consumers are willing to engage with brands on Reddit, presenting an avenue for authentic interactions. As per the study, 90% of respondents expressed openness to new ideas, and 79% showed interest in brands sharing information about their products on Reddit.

In conclusion, the study underscores the changing dynamics of consumer trust, emphasizing the need for marketers to adopt strategies that resonate with evolving preferences and address the emerging skepticism surrounding influencers and AI-driven recommendations. Reddit’s role as a platform for genuine interactions and information-sharing presents an opportunity for brands to build trust directly with consumers.

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