Corporate Eye

Recommendations Are Still the Most Trusted Form of Advertisement

In a new report by Nielsen that tracked advertising spending and effectiveness in the United States during the first quarter of 2011, 76% of consumer respondents indicated that recommendations from people they know are the most trusted form of advertisement. However, even the opinions of people that consumers don’t know are important. 49% of consumer respondents to the Nielsen survey indicated that they trust opinions published online by other consumers, including strangers.

What does this mean to businesses?

In simplest terms, you need to get people to use and then talk about your brand. The social web provides a perfect place to do this. By engaging with online influencers and your brand’s target audience through social media tools and websites, you can start conversations, join conversations, and guide conversations in the right direction. Not only should you encourage consumers to write reviews on your own website, but you should also ask them to do so on your Facebook page, on Twitter, and on local sites like Yelp.com, MerchantCircle.com, Epinions.com, or similar sites that are popular in the countries where you do business.

Consumers don’t always trust ads, but they trust other consumers who have real experiences with brands, products, and services. Take some time to connect with online influencers who have the attention of consumers in your brand’s target audience. Reach out to them and get on their radar screens. Ask them to try your product and review it online (be sure to follow regulations related to consumer endorsements — CFR Title 16 Section 255 in the United States).

Think of it this way. You can spend thousands or millions of dollars on advertising, or you can work on building word-of-mouth marketing related to your brand through consumer conversations and recommendations on the social web. The latter takes more time, but it costs a lot less and can be far more effective over time. In other words, ads are great for short-term results, but social media and online word-of-mouth marketing can benefit a brand for years to come.

What is your company doing to generate word-of-mouth marketing and consumer reviews for your brand online? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: stock.xchng

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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