5 Types of Social Ratings and Reviews Your Customers Use
Social media ratings and reviews influence sales.
Ratings and reviews aren’t new. They’ve been around since people started exchanging goods and services.
How do you find a doctor or hairdresser? Most likely you’ll ask a family member or close friend and then you may check the Internet to get further information.
Social media and the Internet more broadly allow customers to see what others think about a wide range of products and services – it’s the connected wisdom of the crowd. Bestseller lists are a specialized version of this activity.
Ratings and reviews defined
Ratings and reviews are a key form of basic content that customers, whether they’re B2B or B2C, actively seek. For prospects, this type of information may be accessed at point in the pre-purchase process. Post-purchase, ratings and reviews provide customer feedback for servicing current customers and attracting future buyers.
- Ratings allow prospects and customers to vote on products and services. They tend to attract more interaction since less activity is needed on the part of the user.
- Reviews allow prospects and customers to give fuller feedback about products and services. These are longer and can speak to specific issues that the reviewer experienced. In some cases, photographs and videos may be added.
Why ratings and reviews are social media
Ratings and reviews are social media for the following 5 reasons.
- Allow prospects, customers and the public to read, comment, create and share information about products, brands and companies.
- Provide for multi-directional communications, one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many.
- Utilizes a variety of different platforms.
- Involves different types of information, such as text, voting, images, and videos.
- Happens in real time and asynchronously.
Social media ratings and reviews: The numbers matter
Ignore this social media and content marketing at your peril because your key audience is using it.
- 47% of Internet users actively check consumer review sites seeking product information.
- 61% of people have written a review, while 87% of multi-channel buyers write online reviews.
5 Types of social media ratings and reviews every marketer must consider
Social media ratings & reviews fall into 5 major categories.
1. Rating and review sites
This category encompasses a wide range of sites that enable customers to provide their feedback about a specific product or service.
- Amazon. As the granddaddy of ratings and review websites, Amazon is in a class by itself. For many shoppers it’s their go-to-resource regardless of where they actually purchase. Their customers also rate the reviewers. Amazon has the advantage of being one of the most downloaded mobile apps.
- Dedicated ratings and review sites. These encompassed a wide range of options, many of which are focused on a specific product category or vertical. Top names in this group include TripAdvisor and Yelp. Their roots are in traditional print products like Zagats and travel guides.
- Retailers’ own ratings and reviews. These are the ratings and reviews that appear on your website and your competitors’ sites. You can use third party options like Bazaarvoice or Power Reviews.
2. Social commerce providers of ratings and reviews
Beyond targeted rating and review sites, social media offers a wide variety of options.
- Social commerce. This is a growing and diverse category that includes sites like Etsy and eBay. Pay attention to activity on these sites if they’re relevant to your products.
- Location based services (aka LBS). While not necessarily focused on ratings and review, this tends to be an added feature. This applies to Foursquare and Open Table.
- Niche social media sites. These social media sites can be below the radar for most marketers. Focused on a specific vertical, members may rate products and services they use. For example, the members of the social media knitting site, Ravelry, rate yarns and patterns.
3. Forums and message boards
Although they’re somewhat older forms of online social interaction, forums and message boards offer product information, especially if they’ve got an involved following.
- Targeted forums. With their roots in listservs, they’re targeted by topic. For example, FlyerTalk, focused on business travel, has been around for years.
- Social media question and answer sites. While some may argue that they fall under social media, they provide product and service related information in the form of participant questions and responses. Among the options are LinkedIn Groups and Quora.
- Lists. These are email lists or Yahoo Groups where like-minded individual communicate.
4. Expert and blogger input
Shoppers also turn to experts to gather insights. Consumer Reports has been a go-to resource for decades.
- Expert input. With strong credentials in a specific field, experts offer their guidance for the best products to buy. Ideally, these resources provide an unbiased third-party perspective.
- Research organizations. These are a form of experts specialized in a category of information that provide third-party assessment across a range of different features for a set of products, brands and/or companies.
- Bloggers. Based on their usage, bloggers offer input on products. These reviews vary in quality and may be biased. For example, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income is very open when he tells his readers about his products.
5. Social media networks to gather personal rating and review input
The marketing challenge is that you may not realize your prospects are turning to social media for input.
- Prospect’s own social media circle. A potential customer puts out a request to their social media connections on a network like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter for input regarding products or services. This applies to both B2B and B2C. Having good social listening and customer service on social networks can help here.
Understand that social media ratings & reviews are here to stay.
Therefore persuade potential buyers to purchase from you with these 3 steps.
- Engage across relevant platforms to answer questions and become known as a reliable source.
- Respond to negative comments and issues quickly. Try to make your customers happy where possible.
- Encourage customers to leave their ratings and review.
What has your experience been with ratings and reviews, both as a marketer and as a consumer?
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