We care what people think. We care about the opinions of our fellow consumers, about their experiences. Before we spend our valuable time or money, we want to hear about others’ experiences with the service contractors, retail stores, and physicians. We look for this information in two ways: we ask friends and family and we search the internet for glimmers of truth among reviews. Online reviews provide us with the vital information we need to make an educated purchasing decision.
Online reviews matter because they influence our opinions and behaviors, and since they are created by people who were not compensated by the organization, they seem more reliable than ads. Reviews provide buyers with reassurance that their hard-earned money is going to the best possible goods and services.
This means reviewers have an immense power, and it is up to them to wield it responsibly, since online reviews have the power to boost a new business or crush an existing one.
What it really boils down to is trust. Online reviews are built off mutual trust; consumers trust that what the other consumers in the online community are saying is true and based off true, real-life experiences. When a review platform violates this bond of trust, the consumer experience is tainted.
But what about the power of online review platforms? Here are a few examples of powerful online review platforms:
Google Places is a front-runner in the online review arena, considering Google is so very integrated into the average internet user’s life. Millions of people use Google to perform internet searches via both mobile and desktop interfaces. Google Places is one avenue a business can take to take advantage of the power of online reviews.
When your business is listed on Google Places, it will be easier to find online. An optimized Google Places listing will help with a hyper-local campaign, increase your SEO ranking and showcase positive customer reviews, attracting new business.
When it comes to online reviews, most internet users are familiar with Yelp. In the 13 years since Yelp’s creation, its dedicated community has created a comprehensive review database with over 77 million reviews. However, problems with Yelp arise when trust and authenticity are factored into the equation. We have already discussed the importance of trust to the consumer when turning to an online review.
Yelp is facing lawsuits and backlash from business owners. Not only has Yelp been slow to remove false reviews that damage small businesses’ brand image and profit potential, but Yelp’s algorithm forces business owners to use Yelp’s advertisements or else negative reviews will show up on their page, bringing down their ratings.
UpDog is a new video-based review platform that utilizes video and social media integration to keep reviews honest. The folks over at UpDog have put the power of the review back in the hands of the consumer.
Online reviews really are a powerful thing. They can make or break a consumer’s decision to cross your threshold or cause her to turn to another business. Having positive consumer reviews on trustworthy review platforms will drive traffic to your business and help to create a positive brand image. It’s worth noting that once something is online, it’s there forever; if multiple consumers post bad reviews to a company’s social media platform and the company does nothing to remedy the situation, this can and will hurt the company’s brand image. On the other hand, multiple positive reviews can draw attention to a new or existing product.
For a business, it’s important to harness the power of online reviews and all the credibility-building, profit-earning, traffic-generating potential that comes with it.