Social Commerce & Customer Reviews

These days, I don’t spend my money anywhere until I’ve read customer reviews. From a new apartment to skincare products, if I have a choice between my total lack of knowledge and someone else’s experience, I’m going to take their opinion into heavy consideration.

Online customer reviews are plentiful, and, according to Adweek, we care more about those reviews than what our friends say when it comes to making purchase decisions. Fortunately, there are plenty of people out there who love giving their opinions, present company included. Jeremy’s recent blog post on Yelp highlighted an entire community of people reviewing for no other reason than because they wanted to. The only motivation for those of us who love to review is our desire to showoff. And nothing is more gratifying for us showoffs than to be able to plaster our opinions all over our social networks, which brings me to the whole idea of “social commerce.” In future tense, any business selling products that doesn’t utilize some customer review functionality is absolutely going to see it hurt their bottom line. Customer reviews encourage purchases, without a doubt.

Power Reviews just launched a service for retailers called Brand Connect, which offers a two-tiered approach to reviews: Listener, which will track what customers are saying, and Megaphone, which allows reviewers to push their reviews out to their social spaces like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Their website didn’t offer any sort of demo of the product, but this blog post on Cnet had a few screen shots to offer. I also snagged some screen shots of the reviews in action from the Fetchdog site.

Listener apparently has a fairly wide reach, applying consumer segmenting tactics like categorization to the insight they gather. They can also do real-time tracking of “detractors” so that brands can minimize the impact of negative reviews. This element of the service is most interesting to me, because while I personally believe it’s never a good or ethical idea to delete bad customer reviews, it is helpful to keep a close eye on them for damage-control purposes. If, for example, the product really does have a terrible flaw, you’ll catch it quickly via customer reviews.

Megaphone allows the consumers to share their reviews via their social spaces, thereby turning their followers into potential customers. When they publish a review to their wall, only a snippet is shown with a “read more” link at the bottom, bringing the friend back to the product page to finish reading the review. Nice touch.

I’m interested to see how this functions once it’s rolled out. Does anyone have any experience using this service or company? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments.

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