Everyone’s a Critic: The Power of Internet Influence

While the customer may not technically always be right, they certainly have an opinion. And in today’s digitized age, more and more consumers are ready and eager to share those opinions, be them positive (#blessed), annoyed, or, after careful thought and deliberation, whatever available emoji best reflects their current emotional status. One could chalk it up to there being so many open forums for customer feedback and reviews. Or it might have more to do with the preternatural desire in human beings to be critics of anything.

Regardless, everyone’s guilty of it. For example, we sit down in our seats at the movies with our extra-large popcorn and five-gallon drum of Coke and impatiently wait for the film to begin. The lights dim, phones are silenced, the preview trailers start and suddenly every person in the theater is Roger Ebert. Those reviews then appear on countless apps and sites, decrying the experience as garbage or giving it two thumbs up. Of course, this all assumes you didn’t visit rottentomatoes.com to form a well-informed opinion ahead of time.

On the flip side, consumers are super keen on what others have to say about everything — from style to food to what washing machine to buy. Think about the last time you went to dinner without consulting an app. We want to know how many stars it has out of how many ratings and what the ratings say before we even consider leaving the house.

So why do reviews and online opinions hold such sway? It all comes back to trust. According to Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust the recommendation of a close friend or family member. Perhaps due to the constant connection consumers experience with other users on social channels, 70 percent are perfectly willing to put their faith in the online reviews of total strangers. That means brands must work extra hard to figure out what customers (existing or potential) want, not only in exchange for hard-earned cash, but also for loyalty and feedback in the comments section.

That feedback is important because everyone loves word of mouth, especially if it’s entertaining, funny, and (probably most importantly) tells a story. Internet influencers, brand advocates (usually just highly satisfied customers), and user-generated content are huge boons to companies looking to tap into markets without spending a lot of money on advertising. Brands win by creating unique, engaging experiences that are then shared with wider social audiences by influencers or other users.

Of active Twitter users, 49 percent are willing to trust the opinions of well-known influencers. On average, consumers spend 90 percent more time on sites with dedicated user-generated content sections. In turn, those sites see a 50 percent increase in engagement as a result.

If users see the brand as personally valuable to them, and also trustworthy, they are more willing to make the brand part of their own story on social channels.

Image source: Amazon.com

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