The 3 R’s of Social Consumers

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In the last weeks, I came across the same issue in many meetings with clients. Social consumers increase their use of Social Media and social networks to state their opinion about a company, brand or service. Sometimes to rate the way companies make use of Social Media, or how they engage with them in campaigns or branded social hubs. Sometimes to complain about incredible customer service, or the quality of products. Sometimes just to link or share some content piece that attracted their attention.

The input described above by consumers can be summarized under the 3R’s: ratings, reviews and recommendations. These 3 R’s will challenge companies and brands in the future. Companies know that they have to find a way to deal with all the content published, as well as to establish ways to make use of it in the context of their business.

Years ago, we would have seen ratings on Amazon, eBay or rating platforms Ciao. Today, there are external and internal rating opportunities for customers. Most modern content management systems have implemented rating systems. Content and shopping pages have their 5-star systems, percentage scales or „thumbs-up-and-down“ to evaluate the quality of the content or product provided. Facebook, Twitter and other social sharing buttons act in the same way, reach out and distribute ratings to a wider audience to name just some options the social consumer has here.

While the chance to find yourself as a brand in a Twitterstorm was low in the past, the tables have turned. Companies like H&M, Motrin or BMW have become victims of reviews in the last years. Whether through crowdsourcing or blogging, reviews could leverage or damage your business success in a day’s time. The question remains the same for brands. Most consumers don’t differentiate between the trusted and personal reviews. In which reviews can they trust, what not, and what could end in a brand nightmare? The list of review sites is long, the one of personal blogs, social networking accounts, etc. even longer, and getting intense the more people review their personal views. And then, organizations have to bear in mind that 97% of purchase decisions are based on digital experiences.

Probably, the most dynamic part of the 3R’s is the recommendations part. In social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn) people hint, share and forward quick opinions about a film, a hotel or a show in minutes – and forget about it. Companies and brands need to take a position on these recommendations, or clear up the damage as best as they can. Well, if they find them and have the processes, people and resources in place to react. Some recommendations are still in the stealth mode as of semantic detection issues, or as they are only shared within the social graph of a person. And some recommendations are not even recommendations. They get catalyzed through social banner opportunities with Googe Plus buttons inside Google ads or via recommended people of the personal social graph in Facebook ads. And some will stay invisible for brands – most offline spoken words.

Spot On!
The challenge for companies in the future will be to educate social consumers on their way to social purchase. Social consumers often don’t pay attention to who said what, their gender, habits, age and preferences. Customers tend to be affected by a negative scale although it may be positive. 97% is not 100%, 4 start is not 5 star, the last opinion that was the only one negative, and so on. Most consumers don’t check who or how many people have rated the hotel on tripadvisor or So, what is better? One rating in the 100% range, or 5 ratings getting 95%? A review where companies can react and improve the quality of their service? Or a recommendation that they could use as a statement to their blog? In my eyes, we will need to have seal of quality buttons that tell people to be aware of the fact that the 3 R’s are a good orientation for quality but not the final truth. And marketers should think about the best alternative to straigthen and strengthen their brands whatever effective the 3 R’s might be for their business.

Would you agree…?

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