Trend 23: Increasing Importance of Peer Reviews & Recommendations

Jan 25, 2011 Comments Off by

Like it or not, peer reviews rule. Honest peer reviews are increasingly considered more credible than any information a supplier could provide. Positive reviews may help a bit, but negative reviews will hurt a lot.

People tend to trust the comments and feedback of other customers and their peers much more readily than they do the comments of marketers employed by a business.

You can accept and embrace this – and make it work for you, or you can ignore it.

Ignore it at your peril!

User Generated Content Can Be Very Valuable Content

Peer ratings and reviews now guide consumer choices

On many sites, customers are being encouraged to leave comments, reviews and testimonials. Sometimes this user-generated content becomes the main value of the site.

If you are planning to travel, check out the reviews on Recently when my wife and I went to Vietnam, our whole trip was planned around what other people suggested in reviews on TripAdvisor.

User-generated content is also the basis for Wikipedia, the free multi-lingual online encyclopedia, now considered to be one of the most authoritative sources  of information due to the nature of its content creation, editing and management systems.

What Is Being Said About You Online?

Businesses need to find out what is being said about them online, and respond appropriately. Far from being negative or damaging, many comments and reviews on review sites are constructive if not positive.

Some censoring of comments may be appropriate for some sites, but when negative reviews are removed or altered, the review sites quickly lose credibility.

Trip Advisor has a vast range of reviews, and as far as I know, they don’t censor, modify or remove reviews. Some are very damning, and must inevitably affect the business being reviewed.

Even when reviews are negative, this feedback needs to be seen as an opportunity to improve, innovate or respond.  It is fascinating to read the dialogue between a reviewer and a business that has been the subject of a negative review.

Some businesses are aggressive, some defensive and some seem to try to deny that a customer could possibly have had a bad experience. Some take the feedback gracefully and gratefully, and learn from it – or at least pretend to.

As a potential customer, it is great research to learn how a business responds and tries to rectify a bad situation.

You have to assume (and you can almost guarantee) that other people including prospects, customers and competitors will have noticed the review  and will be watching to see if, when and how you notice the review and choose to respond.

Monitoring & Managing Your Reputation

It is amazing to find that even today, many businesses do not bother to learn what is being said about them, their products and services in sites that are frequented by their customers.

Peer reviews and recommendations are continually being provided on services and sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and monitoring these sites can be an important part of a business strategy.

Niche sites are becoming industry standards, and business owners need to know the sites that may affect them and what is being said about them.  is popular in providing reviews of restaurants and cafes around the world, while is becoming one of the world’s top movie review sites.

A huge range of Social Media tools are available to monitor what is being said about you on various websites and in blogs.

Word of Mouth has long been the best form of advertising in the traditional off-line world, and this has not changed online.

What have changed are the tools available for customers to use to spread their word of mouth comments. Instead of telling one person or telling 50 people, a happy customer or an unhappy customer can now tell millions of people, almost instantly.

These comments could sit in a review site waiting for someone to visit the site, search for your business and read the review.

Alternatively, the comments could be propagated virally around the globe within minutes, and never be able to be questioned, explained, defended or deleted.

It’s tough, but it’s real. This social proof of how you have performed for others in the past can help you or harm you long into the future.

Questions To Ponder

  1. Do you know where people might be talking about you, your products and your organization?
  2. Do you know what is being said about you?
  3. What are you doing about it?
  4. Do you encourage and promote your customers to give reviews of your products and services?
  5. Do you know how to defend yourself online with appearing to be defensive?

Go to next trend: Increasing Loss of Control of our Personal Information & Identity

Go to previous trend: Increasing Importance of Trusted Brands

Strategies & Roadmap, The Big Picture, Trends
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