Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day

Part III: Chapter 11 “Ratings and Reviews”

Building on Chapter 10, "Social Content: Multimedia," you'll continue working through the social media content channels. In this chapter I'll focus on ratings, reviews, and recommendations. These are social content, just as much as blog posts, photos, and videos. They too are created by people based on an experience, and like a photo or video they are intended to be shared.

Ratings, reviews, and recommendations are an extremely important form of social media applied directly to commerce. For thousands of years, people have wanted to know whether others were happy with their purchases (or animal trades), and whether they'd recommend the merchant (or trader) at the center of the transaction. Once again, it's life moving in circles.

  • Ratings, reviews, and recommendations are different elements: each has a specific sweet spot.

  • Use recommendations to encourage direct action closer to the point of purchase in the consideration cycle.
  • Use ratings to provide information that will set expectations and address performance questions earlier in the consideration process.
  • Use reviews to provide detailed information needed to make an informed decision that can be "passed down" after a purchase experience: implement reviews of reviews and community policing to maintain review quality.

  • Voting, typically via simple recommendations, both drives and hobbles the Social Web: it indicates consensus, typically based on experience. However, it can also drown out diversity as mass interests overwhelm niche content.
  • Consider building or adopting a ratings platform to provide both the capability to customers to inform each other, and to provide the data that you need to drive your business. If you don't have an online store, you can still tap ratings and reviews by adding them to print campaigns and end-aisle displays.
  • Help your satisfied offline customers tell their story. (The dissatisfied ones will figure it out on their own.) Look at Wal-Mart as an example: include a simple note on the cash register receipt.