Results from the fifth annual «US Digital Trust Survey» were just released in the Digital Trust Benchmark Report 2021. The research looks at how concerned US social media users are about privacy, safety and deceptive content in social media, how their attitudes affect their willingness to engage with advertising there, which social platforms rank highest in trust – and which ones are losing trust among the users.
Digital trust is the confidence people have that a platform will protect their information and provide a safe environment for them to create and engage with content, including advertising and sponsored content. There seems to be a link between how the users perceive that the platforms are looking after their privacy and safety, and their perception of the platform’s trustworthiness.
More than half (52%) of US adult social media users said that whether a platform protects their privacy and data is extremely impactful on their decision to interact with the ads or sponsored content they see there. So building trust is critical for social platforms and their advertisers; it affects how users feel when they use social media and may also impact whether users want to engage with ads on costal media platforms.
Strong majorities of the respondents in the research felt that the same three factors that most affect trust – «Security» (the platform protects my privacy and data), «Community» (the platform offers me a safe environment to participate and post) and «Legitimacy» (the platform shows med deceptive content) – were either extremely or very important on their decision to engage with ads or sponsored content on a social platform. Notably, users felt these trust factors were more likely to impact whether they engage with ads on social media than factors directly tied to the quality of their ad experience or ad relevance.
For many advertisers, the effectiveness of social media advertising has tended to outweigh crises of trust surrounding social platforms. Trust concerns haven’t always led to advertisers actively pull back on their social ad spending. But this study suggests that advertisers do need to consider the state of user trust in their ad spending decisions. The impact of security, legitimacy and community on users´ willingness to engage with ads are strong, meaning that the higher a platform ranks in these areas, the more likely it is that users will be receptive to the ads they see there.
LinkedIn and Pinterest again led as the No. 1 and 2 most trusted platforms. Instagram rose by one spot, to No. 3, while Facebook again landed at the bottom.
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