Today's fast-paced digital world has created a marketplace filled with show-me customers that place high values on social proof and influence. Modern marketing campaigns need to be dynamic enough to integrate these necessities into their strategy to best engage, appeal and convert those customers into sales that drive the bottom line.
Integrating powerful examples of social influence into such strategies is not as simple as paying a celebrity to hold up a product and smile for the camera. Instead, cultivating positive ratings and reviews and other forms of social proof that can focus a customer base on the benefits of a product or service within a realistic context is essential to finding success in a competitive environment.
Ratings and Reviews: A Primer
The undeniable potency of social influence can be counterintuitive. Although consumers have generally become more doubtful towards brand identities and messages, the influence of ratings and reviews offered by perfect strangers within an anonymous digital environment continue to grow in power. Whether that social influence is accurate or not is secondary to the impact it has on ROI. In essence, social influence defines a brand identity within the public domain.
The Importance of Social Influence
To quantify the importance of social influence, a recent study found that 88 percent of consumers now place a significant amount of weight in the ratings and reviews of any given product or service despite the fact that such feedback is unsolicited and effectively anonymous.
Obviously, these statistics only bolster the notion that companies must foster and maintain positive ratings and reviews in order to enhance their brand image and loyalty in a splintered marketplace that always seems to view businesses from a furrowed brow.
Mind Brand Trajectories
Ratings and reviews do not live in a vacuum. They are dynamic and exhibit the same ebb and flow that you see in other facets of commerce. In other words, tracking social influence isn't so much about where a company stands within the public's eye today but the direction it's heading into the future.
The most effective marketing strategies are about creating momentum. In the specific case of social influence, that momentum is measured from the public's perspective, tracking a brand's trajectory to gauge trends and direction within the market. The trajectory of a company's ratings and reviews can significantly improve its ability to monitor that ebb and flow of brand identity, providing insight on the effectiveness of their marketing strategies.
Yelp: The King of Social Influence
Most companies have at least a peripheral knowledge of Yelp and how powerful its user ratings and reviews can be. However, contrary to popular belief, businesses are in no way helpless to the unflinching whims of the Yelp gods. Getting comfortable with the Yelp filter software is critical to maintaining as positive a review base as possible.
Yelp’s filter automatically segregates significantly outlying reviews as well as those from users with low activity. While this feature can help with singular negative reviews, it can also damage a brand if a positive review was to meet the same fate. For that reason, it is in a company's best interest to constantly monitor those segregated reviews and reach out to users who left positive feedback that was removed by the filter. Such communication might inspire that user to become more active on the platform. Company employees might even want to "friend" the user on Yelp to increase their activity and boost the chances of their reviews clearing the platform's filter.
No Room for Passivity
Companies that choose to take no action on sources of social influences in the digital landscape are allowing the hand of fate to control their destiny. Like it or not, maintaining positive social influence has become a critical component to being successful in the digital marketplace.
Businesses that are active participants in their brand identity are best posed to successfully compete in a crowded marketplace. Be deliberate, have a game plan, and constantly monitor sources of social influence to take control of that critical brand identity.