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How Do Consumers Determine Which Reviews are Trustworthy? [Study]

November 16, 2011 | By | No Comments

When I shop for anything online; I have thoroughly researched the site I am buying from and have read multiple ratings & reviews for the product I’m interested in purchasing (from more than one source). I know for a fact that I am not the only one who follows a regiment when shopping online: according to the 2011 Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker Survey four out of five consumers changed their minds about a purchase based solely on negative information (reviews, ratings, etc.) found online.

That’s a major shift upward from the 67% who said the same thing just one year ago. Positive reviews prove to be powerful too: 87% of those surveyed said positive online info confirmed their purchase decision. Edelman Digital’s Vice President of Social Media, Michael Brito claims, “Customers are viewing blogs as a credible source of information when researching products and services online.  This is up almost 20 points from 2010.”

What’s really interesting is how consumers actually determine which reviews are trustworthy:

  • 69% say it’s trustworthy if the source had used the product/service before (experience)
  • 60% say it’s trustworthy if the source has topic credibility/expertise (expert knowledge & advice)

What’s not important when judging the reliability of an online review? A large following: only 8% of those surveyed said it was important for the information source to have a lot of social media followers (quality over quantity).

Are you reaching out to the online influencers just because they have lots of followers, or are you pinpointing influencers who have the right blend of experience and credibility? (Ideally, those experienced, credible influencers will also have many fans and followers, but that’s not always the case!) Chapter 5 of Mike Lewis’ book, Social Media Leadership: How to Get Off the Bench and Into the Game thoroughly discusses social commerce insight: from rankings & reviews to the understanding of group buying.

Social Commerce (A.K.A. e-commerce) although a new concept, is evolving very quickly.  Brands need to get their fans involved in communities and groups; not only so that their consumers can share common interests & concerns but also a tactic for the brand to test new products and services on an honest audience without having to take anything public. Are you targeting the right audience to help grow your business online? Contact the experts at Social Strategy1 to learn more about targeting sales and service to the customers who are helping grow your business.

Michael F. Lewis II is a Social Media Consultant and Marketing Analyst for Social Strategy1.  He contributes several blogs weekly to the SS1 site.  Connect with Michael on Twitter via @mlewii.

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