It turns out that social media users place a lot of trust in what their friends are saying online about products, businesses, and services. So much so that Bing now integrates reviews from friends of users who are searching for a specific business or service. Even though a recent new study came out that suggests that 15% of online reviews posted on social media sites will be “fake” (e.g. businesses can compensate users to write untrue reviews) by 2014, social media users still claim to have a lot of trust in what their online connections have to say.
The fact is, social media reviews are very important for businesses. They allow actual customers to share the highlights and places that need improvement for a business. Honest reviews can help a business grow (by taking their criticisms and suggestions into consideration) and may also convince an online user to try it just because a friend reviewed it online.
This is why it makes so much sense that Yelp integrated with the Facebook API. Once your Yelp account is connected to your Facebook account, Facebook friends that join Yelp are automatically added to your list of friends on Yelp. This helps users see any Yelp reviews from people they already know. This definitely can build up trust.
Compensating users for reviews may not be a bad thing, as long as the business goes about it in the right way. For instance, allowing the users to post a review in their own words (not a scripted one that someone from the company gave them) will make it more genuine, leading their online network to trust them. Companies should trust in the business or product enough to reliably hope that a posted review about their business is generally going to be positive. If a business is scared of negative reviews, then there is something within the way the company is structured or how their business is going overall that needs more consideration.
If a user is compensated for a review, but it is honest and written in their own voice, many probably wouldn’t mind it. After all, getting paid just to share your honest opinion isn’t a gig most people would pass up (especially if it was something you were interested in). However, getting spammy sites to “review” a product isn’t the best way to make your company’s reviews successful online. Stick to working with genuine people and the business referrals will most likely follow.
Kelsey Jones runs her own social media and search marketing business, The Social Robot, where she helps clients grow their online presence. She was voted one of the top 100 marketers of the year by Invesp in 2009 and has worked for Yelp, Run.com, and Bounty Towels. Check her out at The Social Robot and on Twitter @wonderwall7.