Social Media Trustworthy Poll Trustradius

Should you trust social networks as a source of information? Here’s what other professionals think.

As a human, a citizen, and a consumer you care about trust. But as a professional, trust is important, too–to your success with coworkers, customers, and your boss (or if you’re the boss, the employees you manage).

Maybe you use social media to network with people you know, or want to know. Maybe you use it to keep up with industry news. Maybe it’s an important source of data, an advertising channel, a customer support channel, a recruiting tool, or a revenue source for your business.

You may choose where to focus your time and efforts based on performance metrics–measuring the difference between different social networks in terms of how many views or clicks you get, what your response/engagement rate is, how much data you can pull, etc. Or, maybe you prioritize based on who is using the platform, or simply based on how valuable the information you find there feels.

Yet trust is another important piece of this puzzle. Whether you’re posting information you hope will resonate with your audience, or looking for information you can rely on, you need to consider the trust factor.

Poll shows LinkedIn is the most (and typically only) social source of information professionals trust

We asked our audience of business technology buyers, users, and vendors, to weigh in on this issue. 971 professionals voted on which social networks are trustworthy sources of information in their eyes. We didn’t limit them to one choice. Still, LinkedIn was the overwhelming winner, beating Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by a landslide.

TrustRadius social media trustworthy poll

Source: 2019 poll of 971 site visitors on TrustRadius.com

On average, respondents selected 1.2 answers. While a handful of professionals trust more than one social network as a source of information, most have a strong preference for just a single trustworthy social media platform: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is over 7x more trustworthy than Facebook, almost 8x more trustworthy than Instagram, and over 3x more trustworthy than Twitter.

Here are some quick summary stats:

  • More than 2 out of 3 professionals trust information on LinkedIn.
  • Less than 1 in 10 professionals trust information on Facebook or Instagram.
  • Less than 1 in 6 professionals trust information on Twitter.

Why professionals don’t trust Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

For the social networks they don’t trust, we asked respondents to explain why not. They raised concerns about privacy, security, hackers and leaks, fake news, propaganda, advertising, fake people, suspect data, posting for profit, unknown sources, unverified information, superficiality, clickbait, political agendas, deceptive business practices, and a lack of professionalism.

Overall respondents said they think LinkedIn does better than other social networks in all of these areas. But there were three concerns that really rose to the top: oversight, context/credibility, and accountability. Many of the comments we received talked about how these issues affect trust in social media networks as sources of information, and why Facebook, and Instagram, and Twitter are not passing muster compared to LinkedIn.

Oversight

Some brought up the very nature of social networks as suspect, because they rely on UGC and crowd-sourced information. Others pointed out that on certain social networks, like LinkedIn, users are more likely to help police the authenticity of information. There is also a perceived difference in how well the social networks themselves monitor accuracy and enforce data quality standards. Here are a few opinions about oversight and trust from our poll respondents:

“Facebook is rife with fake news and false and misleading statements. There are no checks. People share obvious garbage and misleading macros without hesitation. The entire product shows the limitations of social media as a tool to spread information.”

“not enough control on accuracy”

“Anyone can claim anything. On LI, questionable claims get pushback from knowledgeable peers.”

“Facebook doesn’t have business related information that well scrutinised. Instagram suggests a crypto entrepreneur as a business contact which is not a supplementary business. LinkedIn focus on primarily on real businesses.”

“It’s more difficult to game and manipulate LinkedIn. Others are easily gamed and exploited by 2nd rate publishers and downright nefarious actors.”

Context & Credibility

Context is everything. Respondents pointed out that while Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be used in both B2B and B2C professional contexts (for networking, social selling, marketing a brand’s image, location details, reviews, etc.), they are designed for personal use first. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is strictly professional. There’s a clearer line when it comes to what’s appropriate, and from whom. Here’s what respondents had to say about trust and professional credibility on LinkedIn versus other, less trustworthy social networks:

“Users have less at stake. Trust is more important on LinkedIn.”

“Informal networks where the posters expertise is unknown or unverified. Also, they do not have their professional reputation at stake.”

“They are full of hoaxes and fake stuff. LinkedIn is a more professional network.”

“emotional networks are less reliable.”

“There are a lot of users involved that cannot be considered as experts.”

Accountability

Frequently, respondents said it’s hard to trust information if you don’t know where it comes from. Social platforms with a lot of fake profiles and partial profiles are suspect, because they make determining the source and intentions behind the information difficult. LinkedIn provides more details about identity and background, making it easier to vet the source and affiliation of information. In particular, it’s easier to see financial/business motivations. Education, work history, and skill endorsements also show where someone is coming from, and which organizations or individuals you may be able to contact as references if you need to check up on them. Here are some examples of how respondents talk about the way source accountability plays into trust:  

“Identities look more genuine on LinkedIn”

“those other platforms are too open to unverified influencers”

“Harder to assess the credibility of the poster.”

“On others you will not be able to find the source of information and hence cannot establish accountability.”

“too many unverified sources”

“So far, Facebook consists of many fake ID’s. Hence it is not trustworthy.”

Bonus Commentary

Some respondents truly did not mince words when we asked what makes social networks untrustworthy information sources. Just for fun, we’ll leave you with a handful of our favorite snarky responses. These professionals cut right to the point:

“Irresponsible people talk things out of their lungs without proper rational thinking process.”

“lot of fake politically motivated messages especially on facebook. Instagram is too much of a show-off.”

“If one reasons they do not trust Facebook, how then could they reason to trust Instagram given common ownership? This is a self-fulfilling answer if ascribes to same.”

“trolls, fakes, clickbait, promoters”

“Trust nothing, check , check , check, and check again before quoting, and not checking social media sources.”

“Scammers and profiteers”

“Proliferation of phony and scam accounts. Excessive algorithmic parsing and filtering.”

“Social media is generally full of fake news and broken facts with a single world view”

“too much rubbish”

Emily Sue Tomac

Emily Sue Tomac is Research Manager at TrustRadius, where she studies reviews, the buying process, and buyers themselves. Her research aims to arm people buying software at work with the tools and information they need to work better, smarter, and easier. She's on a mission to tell their stories, and drive change in how software is bought and sold. Prior to joining TrustRadius, Emily Sue worked on research in linguistics and the digital humanities.

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