According to a survey (PDF) by the Online Publishers Association, 90% of all online publishers said they expected to be featuring so-called native advertising this year.

We should take note of native advertising then—not only because it's a fresh vehicle for brands to propagate content but because of what it is to the consumer. It's another advertising channel to become desensitized to and requires consumers to work to differentiate between what content to trust and not trust.

Add native advertising to paid blog posts, TV spokespeople promoting brands, and celebrities being paid to tweet. So, where will consumers turn for genuine and authentic content?

The answer is simple. The social networks of friends and family are where consumers will find opinions they trust and where they'll be swayed to consider what brands to buy and what content to consume and share.

The Power of Friends and Family

A recent survey of more than 10,000 social media enthusiasts found that 86% of respondents say the opinions of family and friends have the most impact on their purchase decisions. Some 56% report that professional reviews carry weight. Bloggers (39%) and celebrities (11%) trail in influence by a significant percentage.

The implication for brands is clear: Harnessing real "consumer influencers" to spread the word about your product or service is an important tactic to cut through the clutter and drive purchase.

The challenge is how to build an effective consumer influencer strategy that is efficient and scalable.

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image of Susan Frech

Susan Frech is a co-founder and the CEO of Social Media Link, an enterprise engagement and activation platform launched in 2009 to help brands build communities. She has 20+ years of experience in advertising and marketing services.

LinkedIn: Susan Frech

Twitter: @SueFrech