In the Age of ‘Fake News’, Magazines Deemed More Trustworthy than Social Media

Much has been said in recent times about how social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are expected to replace traditional news media as readers look towards the internet for to-the-minute updates on stories around the world. However, recent research suggest that rather than following this predicted trend, the vast majority of people still look towards traditional print media and magazines for reliable information.

This is according to survey of 3,230 consumers conducted by MediaCom North and Magnetic, which found that as many as seven in ten Britons find magazines to be more trustworthy than social media. Somewhat surprisingly, given the natural inclination of younger generations to look toward digital sources, the survey found similar results among those above 35 as those below, with only a small difference noted between the two groups.

This leaves just 30% of Britons who trust social media over magazines (a figure which rises to 35% for the under 35s).

This is seen as a growing issue of particular importance to advertisers, who rely upon the trust garnered by such media platforms to lend some validity to their advertised product and/or service, especially at a time when trust in business and society has apparently been falling in general.
In order to ascertain the trustworthiness of the differing media formats, Magnetic gave each a ‘T-score’ based upon six key factors - relevance, reliability, objectivity, diversity of views, transparency, and fame. On four of the above six measures, magazines came out on top.

The four categories in which magazines continue to reign supreme in terms of audience trust are relevance, reliability, objectivity, and transparency, while social media scored better on diversity of views and fame.

Ffion Turner, business science director at MediaCom, said the study showed that “context is really critical”. She explained, “Trust by itself doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Trust in relation to an institution or a media brand can mean very, very different things.”

Anna Sampson, head of insight at Magnetic, spoke of how an increased level of trust in any given platform has a “brand rub” effect, whereby advertising partners and other affiliates gain a boost as a result of the platform’s positive reputation. To back up this assertion Ms Sampson cited five case studies for brands, including Tesco’s F&F and Pearl Drops, and showed a large uplift in brand trust metrics from 64% to 94% after using magazine media.

“Crucially, it’s about the magazine brand, not the channel,” explains Sampson. “Combining magazines and social media enhances that rub effect. If you want to deliver brand trust, use trusted media.”

So while it is apparent that social media has a key role to play in advertising in particular as businesses adapt to an increasingly-technological world, let us not forget the value that is still to be found in more traditional printed media such as magazines. Ideally, your brand should be perceived as reliable, personable and responsible; to properly achieve this, a mixture of platforms will likely be necessary.

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