In a New York Times op-ed, David Brooks chronicles the evolution of trust from close circles of friends and family, to trust in brands and in strangers based on online reviews as evidenced by the emerging peer to peer economy (Airbnb, Lyft, Uber are prime example).
He observes that among other things this new economy is driven by “a personalistic culture in which people have actively lost trust in big institutions.” Instead, people are increasingly relying on other people, and their reviews, as they make economic decisions such as paying for rides or renting a room.
While people have always relied on others’ opinions, but in the past those were others they knew well. Friends, family colleagues etc. Today, the internet gives a voice to strangers and people trust those strangers more than they trust claims made by businesses.
In their recent Local Consumer Review Survey, BrightLocal found that 88% of those surveyed read online reviews to make decisions about where they ate and shopped – up 3% from 2013. These consumers aren’t just reading a couple reviews: 85% said they looked at up to 10 reviews about a single location. Given the depth of research consumers are willing to do, Myles Anderson, BrightLocal’s CEO, stresses the importance of “‘managing’ out bad reviews and focusing on generating regular, fresh, positive reviews.”
So what does this mean for businesses:
- Increasing importance of online reviews. When people have a few minutes to look you up on their smartphone, they should see a stellar reputation. Whether they look you up on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook or Google, for most consumers less than 3.5 stars automatically takes your business out of the running. .
- Increasing importance of online posts on social networks made by your customers. There is no more an authentic endorsement then when a customer checks in, posts a photo or writes about you. The readers of that endorsement are the customer’s friends and family meaning your business gets the ultimate word of mouth.
- Increasing importance of personalizing your brand. The faceless, personality less corporation is on its way out. To stand out today every business needs to build its online presence on character, personality and people.
Want to learn how to achieve all those things? Contact us at OwnerListens