There are lots of reasons why advice from friends is so much more influential than advice from strangers. Trust is a big one. The Wall Street Journal today has a piece about the growing sway marketers have over product recommendations online. "Paid to Pitch: Product Reviews by Bloggers Draw Scrutiny." I was particularly struck by the marketer who requires bloggers he hires to use a seal that says "Sponsored Post. 100% Real Opinion." It's so murky. Even if the overwhelming majority of amateur reviewers have no commercial interest (or hope of one in the future), the fact that some do undermines trust in the rest. There is always something comforting about knowing that the person you're getting advice from is putting you first.