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Stronger than Twitter, Faster than Facebook: Product Reviews as a Marketing Tool

As a marketer, which of these would you find more useful?

Tweet: @sumbuddy dont buy the BrandCo table it sux–hasnt stood up at all

or

On site review: (2 stars) For what we paid for this table, my husband and I expected something more durable. The wood dents way too easily for a kids’ table. We expected a lot more from BrandCo.

RejectedWhile both product reviews are negative, the on-site review giving a client’s product two stars might make us cringe a bit more than a single Tweet (even if the Tweet was as specific as the other review). But the on-site review might also be the better marketing tool, at least according to Ad Age today.

Ad Age contends that product reviews are more useful to companies and marketers than the oft-touted media sweethearts of social media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube (the triumvirate of YouTwitFace), and the like.

The big difference between those on-site reviews and the other feedback (aside from the fact that the rest of the feedback is spread throughout the Internet instead of right at the point of purchase)?


And while Twitter conversation and Facebook chatter is interesting and important, it’s not structured, and can be difficult for marketers to implement into their processes. Review data, on the other hand, address a particular product — and when a consumer is in the mode to talk about it.

People do tend to be more specific in on-site reviews. And while site owners can just make negative reviews go away, that doesn’t mean they should. In fact, the Ad Age article gives specific examples of companies that took negative reviews to heart, examined the criticized product and actually worked to improve it.

The Ad Age article has a sidebar with five techniques to use reviews right:

  • Embrace the feedback—”Both the positive and negative feedback provides hints to what you’re doing well and where improvement is needed.”
  • Figure out who needs to know—Have someone who can react and fix product problems to read the low-rated reviews
  • Tout customers’ favorites—positive product reviews “can make great ad copy.”
  • Incorporate customer service—Let customer service reps know about potential product problems or complaints in reviews
  • Don’t stop there—If your customers really enjoy talking about your products, develop a larger community. Oriental Trading Co., for example, “asks users to help solve each others’ problems and share their stories.”

We’ve discussed the same phenomenon with five ways negative reviews could actually help your online reputation. Andy’s fifth reason take the use of negative reviews to another level:

Learn from competitors’ mistakes. Don’t just read your negative reviews, read those of your competitors. If you learn where your rivals keep slipping-up, you can fine-tune your offering to make sure you don’t make the same mistake. Better still, how about reaching out to an unhappy customer of one of your competitors and fixing their problem—you could win a new customer for life!

What other ways can negative reviews lead to a better product or help companies?

  • http://www.toddmintz.com Todd Mintz

    …unless the negative Twitter review goes viral in which case the company needs to go into damage control mode.

  • http://www.bigpictureweb.com jlbraaten

    I’ve heard all sorts of comments about how ratings and reviews can increase conversion rates by up to 50% on sites. Also, a few negative reviews won’t hurt your conversion rates–they actually increase them. I guess folks like to see a little bad mixed in with the good to help them believe the product isn’t TOO good to be true. If you have an ecommerce site, ratings and reviews could be the single greatest social media element you could implement to help your business.

    jlbraaten’s last blog post..Choosing Content for a Usable Website

  • http://www.iangilyeat.com Elizabeth

    There’s an idea I hadn’t thought of before, not only keeping track of your negative reviews but also your competitors. That really would be an excellent way to keep ahead of your competitors by fixing similar mistakes or preventing them in the first place.

  • http://www.electroluxvacuumcleaner.com Michelle1976

    Product reviews have been being used as a marketing tool, probably longer than we realize. Many times we see these reviews and we don’t think that the very review could have been composed by the company of the product. We take the reviewers word for it…trusting I know. And video reviews even on ad networks like Adwido are still viewed as credible.

  • http://adammetz.com/metzmash Jason Levy

    I completely agree. What amazes me is that a significant number of brands don’t allow any feedback (especially negative feedback). I comment about this in a two-part blog post that starts here:
    http://adammetz.com/metzmash/loving-your-haters-embracing-negativity-on-the-social-web-part-one

    I’m interested in everyone’s thoughts that touch further on this topic of negative feedback specifically on brand’s own sites.

    Also, let me know what you think about the creative uses of negative press/feedback as it is incorporated within social web integration platforms and the offline community.

    Jason Levy’s last blog post..Loving Your Haters: Embracing Negativity on The Social Web, Part One [1]