Survey: Only 24% Say They’d Trust Bloggers Who Write After Given Free Stuff; 19% If Blogger Was Paid

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Is your brand or agency working on a “blogger giveaway” program? It could be a good way to get the word out about your product our service, but will people trust the coverage if they know bloggers were incentivized to write? Not so, according to a new survey from Fleishman-Hillard and Harris Interactive.

PRNewser attended an event hosted by the agency last night in New York, where they released findings from their 2010 Digital Influence Index, a seven-country survey of 4,243 people between December and January.

Key findings from the research include:

More than half (53%) of the study’s respondents think others share too much information about their lives online, and only around one-third of Internet users find user-generated content interesting.

Across all countries in the study, an average 39 percent believe it is safe to communicate with others online, while only 19 percent think otherwise.

Seventy-six percent of consumers reported that they are less inclined to trust content written by a blogger who receives a free sample from a company they are writing about. Trust in blog posts by writers who are paid by a company to blog about its products or business is also low, with less than one-fifth of respondents reporting them as reliable.

75 percent of people surveyed said they view companies that microblog — sending short, frequent messages on sites like Twitter or status updates on social networks like Facebook — as more deserving of their trust than those that do not.

Internet use in China went from less than 1 percent of the population to more than 28 percent in the 10 years since 2000. This is the most rapid shift in communications and technology uptake in human history.

The Economist‘s Gideon Lichfield, who moderated the panel, said China is “almost a completely different planet” in terms of digital consumption. On a related note, Fleishman’s just hired New York GM, Steve Hardwick, also made an appearance and noted that he was only “16 hours into the job.”