Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations

The recent (2012) Search Engine Land’s Local Consumer Review Survey shows that since 2010, consumers are more likely to use the Internet to find local businesses, and they are doing it more often.  They are also just as likely to turn to the internet, and trust online reviews as they are to ask for personal recommendations about local businesses.

  • 85% of consumers surveyed have used the internet to find a local business in the past 12 months. This number is up from 79% in 2010.
  • The majority of consumers surveyed use online reviews to make spending decisions. 27% of consumers are regularly reading online reviews, while another 49% are occasional readers.
  • 65% of consumers (up from 58% in 2010) are reading between 2-10 reviews when researching local businesses.
  • 72% of consumers trust online reviews as they do to personal recommendations.
  • 58% of consumers trust a business which has positive online reviews (up from 55% in 2010)
  • 52% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if they have positive reviews
  • 28% of consumers cite location &/or price as main decision making factor (down from. 38% in 2010)

If you own a business, the statistics are clear, you need a strong online presence, you also need to monitor reviews and be proactive in following up with reviewers in a positive and constructive manner.

Reviews, even negative have always been opportunities to learn, to improve and create fans, do not ignore them, acknowledge reviewers, make things right if you can, pledge to improve, be transparent and truthful

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New Social Media Stats Facebook and Instagram

Facebook and Instagram (now owned by Facebook) just published new statistics

Facebook revealed in its first earning report that it has 955 million active users, 552 million of which are using Facebook daily. 543 million of them are using Facebook from mobile devices, an increase of 29% and 32%, respectively, year-over-year.  Facebook “Growth Team”, yes, Facebook has a squad whose sole purpose is to grow the user base, announced that they are on track to reach the 1B users mark by the end of the year

Instagram,  has hit the 80 million user milestone and about 4 billion shared photos.

Reinventing Customer Service Harnessing Social Media

Social media  leveled the playing field on which brands and consumers face off. Where  brands controlled the means of broadcast (through PR, advertising and news coverage), consumers now have a megaphone of their own in the form of social media to voice their opinion and force companies to rethink customer service

Social sharing and viral content means an angry mob has never been easier to assemble, and brands behaving badly can now find their reputation in tatters in a matter of hours. Just ask Addison Lee’s cyclist-bashing chairman John Griffin, who turned the company into a virtual punching bag for the denizens of Twitter and Facebook overnight. Griffin sparked anger by claiming the majority of cyclist road deaths in London are the result of inexperience on the part of the cyclist.

This is just one example from recent times when the consumer’s megaphone has become louder than that of the brand. Not only does social media amplify complaints, but with criticism out in the open it allows media outlets to offer coverage of the discourse, amplifying the criticism further How many news stories have you read which cite “Twitter outrage” or a “Facebook campaign”?

This reshuffling of power has forced many companies – both large and small – to rethink their customer service and marketing. Having suddenly had power wrested from them, many are now fighting back and employing some experimental and interesting methods to get back in the driving seat.

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New Google+ Study Confirms Minimal Social Activity, Weak User Engagement

Larry Page recently called Google+ the company’s “social spine.” If that’s the case, then Google’s backbone might be much weaker than Page has been letting on, at least according to a new report from RJ Metrics.

This week, the data analytics firm provided Fast Company with exclusive new insights on Google+. The findings paint a very poor picture of the search giant’s social network–a picture of waning interest, weak user engagement, and minimal social activity. Google calls the study flawed–we’ll explain why in a second–and has boasted that more than 170 million people have “upgraded” to the network. RJ Metrics’ report, on the other hand, is yet another indicator that Google+ might indeed just be a “virtual ghost town,” as some have argued.

Let’s start with the findings. For its study, RJ Metrics (RJM) selected a sample of 40,000 random Google+ users. RJM then downloaded and analyzed every sample users’ public timeline, which contains all publicly available activity. One important caveat: RJM was only able to look at public data, which as it points out, “is not necessarily reflective of the entire population of users,” since some users are private or at least have private activity. That said, the stats are eye-opening:

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Three Facts About Facebook Advertising

Buddy Media. has been helping advertisers succeed on Facebook, and the other major social networks, ever since. Today, close to 1,000 companies, including 8 of the world’s top 10 global brands, use Buddy Media to manage their Facebook advertising and social marketing programs.

This has given Buddy media a front-row seat to the social marketing game, and with it, access to a large set of aggregate data about the state of Facebook advertising and the the actual results they are seen are different from some of those cited in a story from The Wall Street Journal that mentions brand advertisers are souring on Facebook advertising.

The aggregate, quantifiable numbers, as well as knowledge of  brands’ ad spend, show the speed at which brand advertisers are investing into Facebook.

Companies that spent $1 million last year are spending $5 million this year. Companies that spent $10 million last year are upping spend to $25 million or more.

In the first quarter of 2011, our technology managed 3 billion social ad impressions. In the same period this year, we managed 127 billion impressions. That’s a 42-fold increase in just a year.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a brand manager at Kia Motors as evidence of advertisers’ “big doubt.” “The question with Facebook … is, ‘What are we getting for our dollars?’” asked Kia’s Michael Sprague.

To address Michael’s question–as well as any doubts about the state of Facebook’s advertising business–you need to understand three simple truths.

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For Brands, Social Media Shows Returns but Measurement Hurdles Remain

Executives see improvements in marketing and sales efforts, and market share gains as a result of well-planned campaigns

C-suite executives are increasingly convinced of the benefits of engaging with their customers on social media platforms. A February 2012 survey of 329 senior executives in North America by management and digital consulting firm PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit found that the vast majority of companies who had invested in social media saw a positive shift in their bottom line as a result.

Executives who said their companies had established an extensive social media presence reported a return on investment that was more than four times that of companies with little or no social network engagement activity

Companies should use social media to create spaces for consumers to have meaningful conversations with employees and other stakeholders. Almost seven in 10 respondents said they had seen a spike in their sales by letting customers talk about their brands on social media platforms, even if some of that dialogue was negative. This kind of approach builds trust and credibility with consumers, potentially transforming them into brand advocates whose value is immense, if difficult to measure.

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