Knowledge leaders are coming back into style

While the rise of social media also gave rise to the level of trust we put in the great unwashed (aka, friends, peers, and other people just like us), that now seems to be leveling off, according to this LA Times article. It looks at the Edelman Trust Barometer's latest findings:

According to the survey, since 2008 the number of people who view their friends and peers as credible sources of consumer and business information dropped by almost half, from 45% to 25%. Similarly, in the past year, the number of people who view peers as credible spokespersons also slipped. Even more strikingly, however, after a precipitous decline earlier in the decade, informed consumers have regained trust in traditional authorities and experts.

Blame the increasing professionalization of social networking sites as companies have climbed on board, and way too much irrelevant noise from just about everyone (myself included -- sorry!). Also from the article:

After indulging the thoughts and opinions of anyone who was "just like me," it seems that people are now looking for a firmer guarantee of clarity, objectivity and accuracy.

I'd like to add to the mix that social media has also spawned a whole new crop of experts who have risen above the "just like me" level while still feeling more like a friend and peer than an aloof expert (think Jeff Hurt, for just one of many in this business).

Does this mean that people now will translate this to the face-to-face environment, with participants wanting fewer peer-to-peer sessions, unconferences, and roundtables and more expert-delivered lectures? Geez, I hope not, but it does make me wonder. (Thanks to Lisa for the pointer!)

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