LONDON: Social media networks are currently under the spotlight as never before regarding content and trust, so marketers will note new research that suggests consumers place considerable trust in content from familiar brands.

According to Outbrain, a content discovery and marketing platform, three-quarters (77%) of the 1,000 UK consumers it surveyed consider familiar brands to be a reliable source of information.

That is a significantly higher proportion than the two-thirds (67%) who trust content shared by their own friends on social media. Furthermore, three-in-five regard useful and relevant content from even unfamiliar brands to be trustworthy.

While consumers tend to spend the largest portion of their time online on social networks, the research suggests these platforms have not been as effective in earning trust.

It found that consumers generally trust traditional publishers more than social media or blogs, with two-thirds of respondents agreeing that content from the likes of The Guardian or The Sun is reliable.

Indeed, out of the seven verticals included in the survey, traditional publishers are the most trusted environment in four of them, including travel and financial advice.

However, social media is generally more trusted for more light-hearted content, such as fashion and health and fitness, leading the report to state that the findings provide "useful insights for marketers in terms of where they should be placing their content to engage with consumers".

"As is shown throughout the report, marketers need to bear in mind the need for innovation and creativity," said Stephanie Himoff, Northern Europe Managing Director at Outbrain.

"Given that consumers spend much less time reading service and product reviews than other types of content, marketers would be wise to use engaging content in the environment consumers trust most: publishers' sites," she added.

The research also unearthed another interesting finding – that consumers spend around a third (34%) of their time online discovering content they didn't set out to find.

In addition, more than half (54%) say they like being guided to content because it allows them to discover new products and services they find useful, but didn't know about beforehand.

Data sourced from Outbrain; additional content by WARC staff