Google, Yelp, Foursquare, Urbanspoon; these are all sites that we as consumers use in order to get the most accurate, helpful and immediate advice when it comes to searching for just the right business you need at the moment. Whether its trusting these sites with our appetites, directions, clothing or businesses, we as consumers live and breathe by the ratings these sites provide to fulfill our needs.
Just in the past year, online reviews have become increasingly more important to consumers and businesses. According to Local Search Columnist, Myles Anderson, 2012’s Local Consumer Review Survey shows a positive shift in consumer trust and appreciation of online reviews. Approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business. In online consumer reviews, customers have usually experienced the business or product first hand and feel they can be brutally honest. This honesty, even though it may come from a complete stranger, is what drives consumers to be more likely to trust these reviews rather than advertisements coming from companies directly.
Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey found that although consumers still had trust in paid television, magazine and newspaper advertisements, the level of trust has declined by 24 percent in the past year. Randall Beard, global head, Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen, stated that “consumers around the world continue to see recommendations from friends and online consumer opinions as by far the most credible. As a result, successful brand advertisers will seek ways to better connect with consumers and leverage their goodwill in the form of consumer feedback and experiences. The growth in trust for online search and display ads over the past four years should give marketers increased confidence in putting more of their ad dollars into this medium”
With this increase in trust in online reviews, it is becoming more important for business to receive good reviews from their consumers. Positive online reviews can act as free advertising for companies. According to BusinessWeek.com, “70% of Americans say they consult product reviews or consumer ratings before making a purchase.” Without these positive reviews companies can suffer in a negative way. Even when companies are receiving positive reviews, there is no way to prevent a competing company or that one unhappy customer from writing a negative review. According to Mark Reffert, one negative review is all it takes to damage a company’s reputation and that single negative review is often the first step toward an avalanche of bad press because the trust in online reviews from site such as Yelp, Google Places and Foursquare is a growing epidemic.
With all the noise in the social sphere, how do you maintain your credibility as a small business?
Photo by: Jason A. Howie