You probably already know that social signals are increasingly important in influencing your organic search engine rankings.

But with new research showing that trust in paid advertising lags significantly behind recommendations, many brands are combining their paid and earned media.

More than 9 in 10 trust recommendations

The recent Nielson survey shows that while 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and 70% trust reviews posted online, ads are trusted by less than half of people.

While ‘old’ media, such as newspapers, magazines and TV, still maintain higher levels of trust than new media, such as search, banners and mobile ads, it’s clear that earned media from social websites are increasingly valuable.

Paid media is not going away

Given the reach of paid media, even with lower trust levels, it is not going to go away.  Brands that combine paid with social (eg Sophie, Sean and Paddy are fans of Brand X) are increasing response rates by 55%, according to Neilson.

Paid media can also be used to draw consumers into a brand’s owned media, such as their website or social channels.

Advertising will never disappear, but the most successful current strategies combine social within ads and build the all important relationship with customers.

By Iain Martin