Social Media Ratings & Reviews Success [Research]
No matter how nervous your senior management is about revealing customer feedback, if you don’t provide it on your website and social media profiles, prospects will seek it out elsewhere on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor as well as your competitors’ websites.
Recent research entitled, “Social Influence Bias: A Randomized Experiment” published in Science magazine on August 9, 2013 by Lev Muchnik, Sinan Aral and Sean J. Taylor sheds new light on the impact of ratings and reviews that marketers and business executives must take into consideration. Here are 3 elements that influence social media ratings and reviews during the buying cycle.
- Customers trust other customers. This is nothing new. Customers referred products and services to each other before the Internet existed. Nielsen research from 2012, their most recent study on the topic, showed 70% of consumers trusted consumer ratings and reviews.
- Existing reviews sway customer ratings. The Social Influence Bias research found that the first person to view a randomly positive comment was 32% more likely to give it a positive rating than if there was no rating.
- Positive reviews influenced prospects more than negative reviews. Social Influence Bias findings revealed an asymmetry in social influence. Respondents were more swayed by previous positive responses yielding a 25% increase in the final rating score. By contrast, people either personally corrected for negative input or added information to counter the negative review. As a result random negative votes didn’t have an impact on a comment’s final rating because positive and negative activities cancelled each other out long term.
When it comes to ratings and reviews, the great silent majority of lurkers doesn’t act. About 9% will do something easy such as a rating or a like and about 1% will write a review.
7 Ways to wow prospects by improving brand or products ratings and reviews
To wow prospects provide great customer experiences. On social media, the goal isn’t to game the system but rather to encourage interaction that enables you to convert potential customers. Here are 7 actionable marketing tips to help you improve your social media ratings.
- Respond to issues quickly and sincerely. The best time to act is while the prospect is on your site or in your establishment. Think win-win. Engage with all of the customers who comment, not just the negative ones. Skip the corporate-speak and be human, not defensive. Where appropriate, make good beyond a “We hope you’ll come back.” Offer a refund or replacement where appropriate. Do right by upset customers to convert them into evangelists. Know that they’ll tell everyone about your failures even if they don’t post it on a social media platform.
- Reach out to your biggest fans. Syncapse research revealed that raving fans contribute to persuading prospects to purchase. Leverage the power of your fans. Give them special opportunities to test your new products and/or get special access.
- Nudge customers to rate your products. This is particularly important for new products and locations since it’s easier to gather additional ratings once customers have commented. Experiential brands tend to do a better job of this than other businesses. Therefore use the power of each customer touch point such as customer receipts, comment cards, bulletin boards and handouts. Here are examples of how real life merchants and marketers encourage ratings and reviews on different platforms. Don’t overlook traditional formats such as guest books and signage.
- Make connecting on social media easy. When a customer has a great experience with your brand, product and/or store, help them to share it. Go beyond asking for reviews. Provide customers with the necessary tools. While on vacation in Mexico, I took a great local adventure tour. At the end of the tour you could select photos taken of you and burned them to a CD. As long as the tour company had the computer there, they should have provided a means to collect reviews and record comments on the spot.
- Follow up with customers regarding purchases. Take a page from Amazon’s playbook. Send customers a post-purchase email to gather reviews. Amazon has a long tradition of requesting customer feedback and is an online resource that shoppers turn to for customer responses. If your firm is new, you need to find another way to build customer equity such as offering an incentive.
- Don’t run from bad reviews. As the research shows, prospects have built-in ways to assess reviews. A bad review from one customer can be a great reason to use your product or service for another. For example, an older couple complaining about your loud bar that stays open until 4 am can be a selling point to a twenty-something. Another example: the Hans Brinker Hotel in Amsterdam turned its negative reviews into a badge of glory for students seeking cheap sleeps.
- Monitor rating and review tools that apply to your target market. Think beyond Facebook. Consider TripAdvisor and Yelp or whatever targeted social media platform your customers use.
To reap social media success from ratings and reviews, you must actively encourage customer activity and make it easy for them to do.
What other recommendations for gathering ratings and reviews do you have?
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Branding, by definition, is about imprinting our identity onto others. Traditionally, it’s been about telling people, “if you want to fit in, first you must buy in.”
In this manifesto, CJ argues that Belonging is more powerful. When you’re in the business of helping others design their identity, you access something deeper and more permanent than their desire to just keep up, you access their desire to matter.
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- 7 Ways to Do Right By Your Customers on Social Media (Elvis Presley inspired!)
- Customer reviews support sales
Photos in point 3: ©2013 Heidi Cohen – All rights reserved