Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Value of Your Opinion

iProspect put out a report detailing user behavior online with an emphasis on social networks. To summarize some of the results:
  • Despite buzz about social networks, search engines still outweigh social networks in terms of reach and use
  • However, niche social networks are useful to reach a particular demographic and most social networks are regularly visited.
  • Purchasing behavior is somewhat influenced by social networks (this includes Amazon.com and Yahoo! Answers)
  • Most comments are positive, few are negative, but most people don't comment at all.

Interesting report, but one where our intuition really pointed to, which is before you listen to a marketer, you'd rather listen to a third party with no real vested interest in the product. Further, with a very small amount of people that are actually commenting or rating a product, you're left with a core group of activists that are driving a large percentage of ecommerce. Scary thought. The good news is that most people are fair and actually skewed toward product advocacy. The chart shows that a small amount of people are "Debbie Downers" that is, they just post negative comments. A few levels up are the fair folks, those that post both negative and positive - the "speak your mind" folks. And an even larger number are positive folks. Positive comments only. It appears that many net users follow what your mom used to say "If you don't have anything to nice to say, don't say anything at all." Good news for marketers. The scary part are the Debbie Downers, the makers of iPod's Dirty Secret, the whistleblowers, the Negative Nancys, etc. After all these website filtering mechanisms make it easy to find these negative ratings amongst a sea of positive ones. What to do? Don't ignore them. Don't delete them. Address them. Show your loyal consumers that you have nothing to hide and if it is your mistake, admit your humanity. Through this transparent communication, your product advocates will emerge out of hiding and champion your product against the Debbie Downers out there.

Another interesting point is what they call brand awareness versus actual conversion - Amazon obviously leads in conversion while YouTube does a pretty good job of brand awareness. Kind of obvious because you go to Amazon to research a product while you go to YouTube to view stupid human tricks.

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