Social Media: Study Shows the Most Trusted Product Reviewer is YOU
For me, as someone who buys a lot of electronic gadgets and musical equipment, one of the best outcomes of social media has been the ready availability of user reviews. When I’m looking to buy a new guitar, or smartphone, or something else that I plan to own and use for a long time, I might look at a “professional” review. But I will always check out what people who’ve already taken the plunge have to say.
Turns out I’m not alone. According to a September 2012 study of consumers who had recently made electronic purchases, those surveyed said they paid more attention to customer reviews than professional critics in every category. The survey, which was conducted by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, looked at 10 categories of products such as mp3 players, headphones or earbuds, printers, tablets and TVs. The closest the professional critics came to user reviews was in tablets and PCs/laptops, where 39 percent of respondents said they looked at professional reviews versus 61 percent for ones generated by users.
What does that mean to marketers? A few things:
- Obviously, it’s important to pay attention to user reviews because your customers are. Not just for consumer products either. If there is somewhere for your products or services to be reviewed, be sure you’re searching for them, reading those reviews, and responding where appropriate. You don’t want that important conversation happening without you.
- If you have a formal review program but nothing going toward social media, you may want to reconsider how you’re allocating your budget. Your customers may be paying more attention to people with no particular expertise or credentials than they are to that reviewer with the great pedigree. Even a small investment in managing the customer groundswell could pay big dividends.
- You have a concrete example of the effectiveness of social media. Users aren’t paid to put up reviews, nor do they gain a lot of prestige by doing so. They simply have had a good or bad experience with your products and want to share that experience with random strangers. Other users know that, so there’s a lot of power in their words.
- You should take advantage of your great reviews. It’s likely you’d promote a good review by a professional critic. Why not do the same with user reviews? Put a “Here’s what actual purchasers say” link on your website or a landing page. Email the link to prospects, and ask other satisfied customers to contribute their thoughts. Take advantage of the power of the people to help you close the sale.
The one thing you don’t want to do is try to stack the deck by contributing “fake” reviews. Despite their popularity, 80 percent of those surveyed said they have questioned the authenticity of user reviews at some time or another. Getting caught shilling for your own products can have a huge backlash against your organization. Word spreads fast through social media.
What do you think? Does the same thinking apply to B2B products? In your experience do positive user reviews translate into higher sales? And how much weight do you give to user reviews?