Over on the Neilsen blog is a great set of numbers showing that a survey of 25,000 internet users across 50 countries found that people tend to trust the recommendations of friends and online aquaintances much more than anything other interaction.
This should not come as any great surprise, and presumably given these are internet users, bothering to respond to a survey they feel quite strongly about how they get to know about products and ideas and how they choose their path.
This links with the discussion on New World Notes about trusting anonymous avatars. The split between knowing who someone is, versus respecting what they actually do online without needing to know their physical embodiment in any way. I am not going to retype my comment from that discussion, merely to indicate that trust and the effort put into the trust of others is as valid online as offline. The expression of that trust and the notion of understanding the signals we give off in a digital expression (I keep linking back to my Lie to Me post) I find very intriguing and something that become even more important to products, brands and business online given the graph at the start of this post.
If you want people to buy your product, service etc. You need them to get to know you or your representatives in ways that is far more engaging, based on dialogue and trust. That aspirational glossy TV advert will become a very expensive low return item compared to the engagement of a real person with the customers.