Now, when was the last time you acted on the recommendation of a friend or someone you trust?
Chances are the second question is easier to answer than the first. There is a difference between the media you know from an arm’s distance and the “friend” who’s part of your “community” – be it family, work, Facebook or Reddit.
When I worked in television news, we felt we had earned the trust of our viewers; when they heard it from us they could feel safe acting on it. When we went on the air during the hot summer and made a plea for donated fans the public would step up and deliver.
I was having lunch recently with a friend who runs the US digital practice of a global PR firm and we got to talking about the changing media landscape. I launched into my tried-and-true opinion about the media bestowing credibility, and I could see by the look on his face he differed with my take.
“Not anymore,” he countered. “Nowadays, the share is the thing.”
The fact is … we get and share our information differently today. We shout out to members of our hand-picked community in Facebook. We posture on Twitter to the people who choose to listen to us. We do whatever people do on Reddit! We review a restaurant or realtors on Yelp and, thanks to crowd-sourcing, people looking for a good restaurant or realtor read our review and take our advice.
All of the above have replaced watching the evening news or opening the paper (including reading the online edition). See the difference? With traditional media, you tune into a broadcast – broad in that a diverse array of news is delivered. With social, you’ve become selective about what you want to learn and discuss – and with whom.
You’re more invested in the process because you’ve essentially shaped your personal diet of daily information. As a result, you put more stock in what you hear and read.
For instance, think of how often you will read a friend’s post, click through to the site she’s recommending, see something related and click on that and read a few of the comments, then jump to something else. Your path through social media looks like a twisting mountain road rather than a straight freeway. And that’s how it usually goes when we are consuming our daily information.
So it’s understandable that like beacons lighting the way, those “shares” or recommendations from friends and acquaintances help us make sense in a chaotic world overstuffed with choices and decisions.
What do you think? Where do you get your information? Whom do you trust?