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Social media ‘even more toxic than the banking industry’

July 9, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Next time you’re thinking of marketing via social media, think about this: Australians distrust social media intensely, far more than any other media category, according to a landmark new survey.

Conducted last month by Roy Morgan, the Media Net Trust Score Survey reveals that social media is deeply distrusted in Australia, with Facebook by far the most distrusted media brand.

In short, the trustworthiness (or perceived reliability) of social media stinks. About half of all Australians (47%) distrust social media, compared to only 4% who distrust, for example, magazines.

If you think it’s a generational thing, you’re right – but not the way you might suppose. It’s young Australians who distrust social media most: 68% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 53% of 25 to 34-year-olds don’t trust it. Men (49%) distrust social media marginally more than women (45%).

Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine points out that trust is now firmly on corporate Australia’s agenda, “But distrust is the critical measure everyone’s ignoring.

“Distrust is where our deepest fears, pain, and betrayal surface – the shock of discovering we were foolish to trust too much.

“And nowhere is that sense of betrayal more profound than with social media.

“Australians told us that their distrust of social media is being driven by fake news, manipulated truth, false statistics and fake audience measurement. They are feeling the shock of discovering they were foolish to trust the global platforms too much.”

According to survey respondents, their top-5 drivers of distrust in social media are:

  • Fake News / manipulation of the truth
  • False statistics / audience measurement
  • Personal information stolen and distributed
  • Anyone can make claims without any evidence
  • News is sensationalised / becomes entertainment

But why does distrust matter?

According to Levine:

  • Distrust triggers audience churn
  • Distrust kills audience engagement
  • Distrust kills advertiser spend
  • Distrust is the tipping point for reputational damage
  • Distrust is the bellwether for an unsustainable future

“The real picture is revealed only when distrust is subtracted from trust to reveal a Net Trust Score or NTS,” Levine said.

“Social Media’s TRUST score is 5%, however, its DISTRUST score is 47%.

“So, when we subtract one from the other we reveal a social media NTS of minus 42%, making it more toxic even than the banking industry,” she said.

“We have also conducted four surveys of all brands, and they reveal the banking industry as the worst performer with an NTS of minus 18%, compared to the media industry with an NTS of minus 7%.”

But even the banks’ negative NTS doesn’t compare to the low public opinion of social media.

Facebook is the most distrusted media brand in Australia with an NTS of minus 39%. That’s more than twice as untrustworthy as the banking industry.

“This is where we get a powerful sense of how toxic social media in Australia really is,” Levine said.

So what media channel do Australians trust the most? The ABC. After the ABC, SBS is Australia’s second most trusted media brand. Fairfax comes in third as the only other media brand with a positive NTS.

SBS is also Australia’s most trusted commercial television network with an NTS of +5% – well ahead of the other three commercial networks, all with an NTS of between minus 6% and minus 10%.

Edited by Peter Needham

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